Allendale New Options High School

New Options Star Student: Yulexis Ruano

Allendale New Options, Yulexis Ruano

It was just four weeks ago that Yulexis Ruano left the comfortable hallways of East Kentwood and started a new chapter in Allendale at New Options High School. Just one credit short of being admitted to the high school, his personal goal of pursuing a spot on the football and baseball teams, and later a career in car mechanics and auto body repair, is propelling him to work hard and make a difference.

“Since I’ve come here, I’ve been more motivated to become something and do something with my life. No one in my family really did anything and I really want to be that person–the one who makes it,” he said.

Since his time at New Options, Yulexis has been particularly inspired by a field trip he took to the Careerline Tech Center. Once he heard that they are number one in the state, he was prompted to research the opportunity further. Seeing the facilities and learning about the practical training available opened his eyes to a field that he wasn’t interested in at all before. He’s determined to spend half his day at the tech center during his senior year to complete their auto-related programs.

“I’m seeing the future and looking forward career-wise and taking it more seriously,” Yulexis added.

Guidance counselor Marie VanFarowe glows when she mentions his name, saying she attributes his success at New Options to his personal goal of getting into Allendale High School. “Yulexis is  great student and he’s working hard at getting the credits he needs to transfer to AHS.”

To make up the credit he needs for that transfer, Yulexis is taking double the normal class load of his peers and earned a 4.0 last trimester! He hopes to spend his entire senior year at AHS so that he can graduate with the high school class. “I’m coming to the high school and I’m going to do something to better the high school. I just need a little — a little — help to push me, to motivate me to do so,” he said.

While he waits for that transfer to happen, the junior spends time on the courts as a player for the Stars, an alternative basketball team in Allendale. He is currently the only player from New Options and says he’s doing it to have fun even though it really isn’t one of his “good sports.”

Yulexis’ enthusiasm and zest for life are apparent from the moment he smiles. He already has plans for ways he’d like to get involved once he’s a Falcon — and his teachers believe he’ll make them happen. Ms. VanFarowe adds, “He’s a great kid, very polite, well mannered and respectful. I wish I had twenty Yulexis! It’ll be hard to see him go, but I’m going to be happy for him.”

Dream big, Yulexis! We believe in you!

Categories: Allendale New Options High School | Tags: | 1 Comment

New Options Elects New Student Council President

Shianne Frantz, Allendale New OptionsLife hasn’t always been easy for New Options High School’s new student council president. While it’s true that she makes leadership look easy and compassion appear second nature, those qualities have taken root after very real personal heartache and hardship. Still, Shianne Frantz is showing the world that each day holds new hope for those willing to risk.

After growing up and attending school in White Cloud, Michigan, Shianne was abandoned by her mother. With nowhere else to turn, she left to find a new home with her aunt in Allendale, who currently has power of attorney, but not legal custody, of Shianne. Caught in a messy legal web, Shianne — a young mother herself — is left to hope for speedy resolution and safekeeping for the longterm in our community.

“Going to school and being a mom isn’t easy,” she said. “But I think it’s easier going here than somewhere else. People here don’t judge you because they know that everyone has a different reason for coming here. It’s not just because they’re bad. We’re just a big family here and the teachers help a lot.”

Undeterred by personal issues, Shianne still hears the voice of those calling out for help. In fact, her desire to help led her to run for student council.

When Shianne saw that her friend was being bullied, she immediately wanted  to do something about it. Knowing that her friend was not interested in taking a leadership position within the school, Shianne acted on her behalf, running for and winning a position on student council.

Shianne has dreams for her school that demonstrate extending compassion and empathy to others.  For example, she would like to:

  • …create a Roar video to the new Katy Perry song, similar to the one that AHS did. She feels that New Options needs their own, with a unique slant on being courageous.
  • …make a presentation to her school emphasizing that bullying is “not okay”
  • …get New Options students involved in a community project to decorate the brown lunch bags in which kids living in homeless shelters receive their meals.

Student council advisor and science teacher Liz Lillibridge said, “I’m really excited for Shianne to be the president this year. She’s already come to me with quite a few ideas of things that we can do for the community. She’s also an excellent student. Her attendance is great, she’s always here, she’s always doing well. I don’t think she hardly ever has missing work or late assignments — she’s always on task.”

Ms. Lillibridge shared a list of ideas that student council is considering for fundraising, increasing school spirit and reaching out to others. She is excited for what this year may bring.

“I feel like sometimes people have a wrong perception of New Options kids, so we’re trying to get out into the community so they can fix that. I want others to see that our kids are good kids.”

Categories: Allendale New Options High School, Star Teachers, Students in the Spotlight! | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Meet Your Principal: Tamika Henry

For our final installment in this series, we speak with Mrs. Henry. Although Mrs. Henry is technically the Assistant Principal of New Options High School, she assumes much of the day-to-day leadership with her steady presence in the building. For this reason, we are happy to include her in this series

Allendale Public Schools, Tamika Henry1. Tell us about your career journey in education, including how long you’ve been in your current role at Allendale.

I originally went to school to be either an entertainment lawyer or a psychologist. I have always had the desire to assist people in having the best life they possibly could. However, after having a family and realizing just how much both of those careers would keep me from nurturing my own household, I decided to go down the path that my father had journeyed, education. As a child I watched my father nurture children that had very challenging situations into a life of productivity. I felt as though this would be a path that I would be able to help young people while at the same time being able to be the best mother possible. I started my educational career at the University of Michigan majoring in psychology and African American studies and completed my teaching certificate at Grand Valley State University. Upon graduating from GVSU I substituted quite a bit in my children’s school. A part-time position came open in Allendale High School and I applied. I taught at the High School for 3 years and then took a position at New Options HS. After teaching at New Options for 6 years an opportunity to move into administration presented itself, and the rest is history in the making.

2. What makes you love coming to work each day?

It is said that if you have the opportunity to do what you love you will never work a day in your life. I can honestly say that I have not worked a day in the last 12 years of my life! Education is my passion because I know that it is through education that the world opens up and offers her precious jewels. A high quality education is a human right that every person deserves because it is an inalienable right. The fact that I can offer something to young people that will last them a life time brings me back every day—no matter what the day before was like.

3. What is something you do each day that people probably don’t realize principals have to do?

I meditate each and every morning asking for divine guidance and assistance to do no harm; to bring light and not heat. I believe that every encounter is one that has the opportunity of being life changing.

4. Name something you personally look forward to each school year.

New challenges and seeing how my students have changed over the summer.

5. If you had an unlimited financial and/or volunteer reserve, what would you do to improve your educational environment?
I build the most phenomenal educational edifice that would make my students know and feel that they are the most special people in the world.

6. What was the best part of your summer vacation?

Preparing my last child (my only daughter) for college. We are now officially empty nesters!!!

7. What is your favorite book? (Can be a kid’s book or an adult book)

I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. I love books (memoirs) about overcoming adversity.

8. What is one piece of advice you’d like to pass along to the students in your school?

Education is the key to the world; get your copy and unlock a phenomenal future!
Categories: Allendale New Options High School | Tags: , | Leave a comment

New Options Student Council Excited to Bring Prom Back to Their High School

Allendale Public Schools, New Options High School, Alternative EducationIf ever there was a group of kids determined to make a difference, this is it.

In their first year with a student council, New Options High School has elected members that shine with optimism, that display fierce loyalty to the “underdog”, and a resolve to create a brighter future for themselves and their classmates.

Alaina Reed, Mariah (last name withheld), Kelsey Turner, Jesse Gayle, Alexis Jimenez, Brittany Bos, Trey Tetro, Abigale Hunter, Robb Martin were elected to student council earlier this year. Those running for offices like president and vice president were asked to create a platform and deliver a speech before the entire student body, while the representatives were chosen by their teachers.

Alaina Reed decided to risk an election defeat for the chance to serve her classmates. Why? Because the idea of having a prom was worth it to her and so many others.

“I wanted to make the school more fun and more lively. Everyone deserves a prom. Just because we’re an alternative high school doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the same experiences that other kids our age get to have.”

Jesse agreed:

“We’re known as the “outcast” school, but we still want to have a great high school career and enjoy the things that traditional high schoolers enjoy.”

Prom is a big deal for this group who has yet to experience the milestone event. They have reserved Lifestream Church on Lake Michigan Drive for the location of their big night and are relying on help from their classmates to select a theme for the dance.

Using new voting technology on Moodle, the representatives will ask their classmates to cast a ballot in favor of one of the following prom themes: Halloween, Old Hollywood, Night in the City, and the Beach. Unlike many high schools, this prom will be open to students of all grades.

Aside from planning prom, student council is making waves and creating smiles by running a school store that sells popular snacks at reasonable prices. The group is also looking forward to finding community service projects that allow them to connect to others and improve their surroundings. New Options has selected “pride” — as in “pride of lions” — as their mascot to show the world that there is strength in a tightly knit “family” of determined students.

Mariah, who is serving as student council vice president, was passionate that one message came through loud and clear:

“I failed one class and I’m here to make my credits up. I chose to be here and it’s been a great choice for me. I want to prove to the community that we can take responsibility and impact the community in a positive way.” 

Congratulations to this group of leaders and brave citizens who live each day intent on making it better than the one before. We applaud you!

Categories: Allendale New Options High School | Tags: , , , , | 45 Comments
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