Community News

Open Houses Are Around The Corner!

Fall. This one word conjures images of pumpkins and changing leaves, sack lunches and bus stops. For students, the turning of seasons undoubtedly carries with it a range of emotions and an array of questions. Our school Open Houses are designed to calm fears, answer questions, and remind students that school is the place where old friends return and new ones are waiting to be made … all in an environment of learning and discovery.

This year, as in years past, each building will host its own “welcome back,” and we hope you’ll make every effort to attend. Principals and teachers will be on hand to address concerns and join you in your excitement. Planned for parents and kids alike, we think you will appreciate gaining the familiarity that comes with a sneak-peak at classrooms, schedules, and lockers.

*Note that where “orientation” is included in the description, there will be a planned format beginning at the start time. We hope to see you there!


D-K/K: August 28, 6:30-8 pm

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS: 1st – 3rd Grade Open House & Orientation: August 27, 6:30-8 pm

OAKWOOD INTERMEDIATE: 4th – 5th Grade Open House & Orientation: August 29, 6:30-8 pm

MIDDLE SCHOOL: 6th – 8th Grade Open House & Orientation: September 4, 6:30-8 pm

HIGH SCHOOL: 9th – 12th Grade Open House & Orientation: September 5, 6:30-8 pm

NEW OPTIONS: Open House & Orientation with Ice Cream Social! September 5, 6:30-8 pm

Categories: Back to School, Community News, News You Can Use | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating a Summer of Reading

For the past fourteen years, the Amazing Reading Bus has lumbered through the streets of Allendale loaning books and borrowing smiles from students who might not otherwise visit a library during the summer months. Monday’s celebration at Allendale Township Park was a colorful reminder of just what this program means to our community members and how much our youngest readers value the opportunity to search for new stories.
Over the past six weeks, the Amazing Reading Bus (whose interior is pictured above) has shared fiction and phonics with over 600 students! With the goal of simply keeping kids reading throughout the summer, Allendale Elementary Assistant Principal Ryan Coghill noted that getting books in the hands of kids is paramount. By creating bus stops and disseminating a schedule, students are given the chance to get new books each week!

The Amazing Reading Bus Party was a culmination of more than a month of the mobile library encouraging reading and boosting reading comprehension. The twelfth of its kind designed to by Title 1 Coordinator Richelle Rybinski, yesterday’s celebration was a carefree family outing filled with fun. Jill Wilson, Principal of Allendale Elementary School, summed it up by saying, “It’s a nice time of year to reconnect with families and get them excited about the transition back to school.”
The success of the Amazing Reading Bus hinges not only on the kids who eagerly await its weekly arrival, but also on the wonderful women behind the wheel.

Connie Merrill and Deb Oros devote their summers to helping students find books at their reading level, study new sight words, and create flash cards to help students practice. They say that there’s nothing better than hearing kids get excited about reading and recommend books to each other. It makes their day when two friends choose the same book so they can read it together.

Amazing Reading Bus drivers Connie Merrill & Deb Oros pictured with Title 1 Program Coordinator Richelle Rybinski (L to R)

The ladies of the Amazing Reading Bus also wish to thank the parents who so often have brought them something to drink, a snack to enjoy, or let them in their homes to use the restroom. “We even got root beer floats this summer!” they commented.  

All agreed: it’s the kindness of Allendale families that make their jobs a joy. Thank you to all of the families who joined us at the Township Park and for all the hours you spent reading with their children this summer! See you next year!

Categories: APS Celebrations, Community News, Reading Initiatives | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Allendale Community Field Day This Saturday

This Saturday the grounds of Allendale Middle School will come alive with students, parents, and community members joining our efforts to launch the nationally run “Project Budburst” on our very own campus.

Shovels will be slicing the earth and carving out new places for native plants, trees, and flowers that will help our students learn about the different stages of plant “phenology” (studying the natural cycles of plant life as they relate to climate). After students make observations together, their findings will be entered into a database for scientific study across the country!

If this sounds exciting, YOU CAN HELP!

This Saturday from 10 am – noon you are invited to join in our First Community Field Day as we begin a “garden” space that will be used for years to come!

  • NO SHOVELS NEEDED! We will provide all the tools you’ll need!
  • PLANTS WILL BE WAITING AT SCHOOL! In an effort to plant only native species, we will provide all the foliage to plant.
  • MEET IN THE EAST PARKING LOT AT AMS: Look for the crowd!
  • NOT A GREENTHUMB? NO PROBLEM! We’ll be here to help!
  • WEAR DIRT-FRIENDLY CLOTHES!  Leave your new stilettos at home!

In exchange for your efforts, Dr. Riemersma and Mr. Piccard will be providing a FREE LUNCH to all who are willing to roll up their sleeves and help!

Saturday will be a day of planting more than trees: we’ll be planting the future…together. Join us!

~ ~ ~

If you have questions or would like to help by sponsoring some of the activities of Saturday’s Community Field Day,

please contact Dr. Riemersma or Mr. Piccard for details.

[Dr. Peter Reimersma]:   |   [Mr. Piccard]:

If you missed last week’s feature article on Project Budburst, you can read more about the program HERE.

Categories: Community News, News You Can Use, Special Projects at APS | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Allendale Middle School Collaborates with GVSU on Project Budburst

Dr. Peter Riemersma & Mr. Keith Piccard

When Dr. Peter Riemersma, Geology professor at Grand Valley State University, first approached a group of Allendale teachers last summer about the idea of creating specialized gardens for student use on the APS campus, they were all ears.

The idea? Why not plant Michigan-specific species on the Allendale K-8 campus so that teachers have a nearby location to do research and take science “field trips”?

The teachers embraced the possibility of being able to study plants, trees, and shrubs up close and help to record data about plant phenology into the Project BudBurst National database. Project BudBurst relies on the observations of thousands of school groups, hikers, gardeners, senior citizens and others who wish to contribute to the climate change conversation and its effect on plants. We are pleased to join the ranks!

It also operates on the premise that regular observations recorded in field journals will be added to the database and analyzed by scientists looking for trends. Dr. Riemersma and Mr. Piccard believe that Project BudBurst would provide the perfect opportunity to get kids outside and enable them to enjoy nature while engaging in meaningful learning experiences. 

Students working with this national initiative will consider difficult questions about our changing climate and will work alongside interested community members to find answers.

Allendale sixth grade Science teacher Keith Piccard

Keith Piccard, who spends time doing field work in the state of Wyoming during his summers, is especially excited to contribute to field work right here in West Michigan. “I want as many kids possible to be outside. By connecting with Project BudBurst we’ll have 5-10 minute activities built-in so that kids can interact with science. Longterm, I’d love to collaborate with others to write a new outdoor curriculum that would also incorporate geology and aquatic invertebrates.” 

Dr. Peter Riemersma

For his part, Professor Riemersma is taking a sabbatical next year and will spend his time writing grants with the hopes of funding additional trees and plants to add to the Allendale BudBurst garden, as well as expanding the curricular focus to include more areas of study. 

Dr. Riemersma contacted Project BudBurst to obtain a list of recommended plants for Michigan participants; using these plants ensures that species specific to our region will be represented in the garden.

Both he and Mr. Piccard are looking forward to initiating Allendale’s participation in this project by launching a Community Field Day on May 12. This day will give community members, parents, students, and teachers the opportunity to plant new flowers, trees, and shrubs that will then be observed for years to come.

We are so grateful to both of these men–and the many others working behind the scenes–for their vision, their dedication to excellent authentic learning experiences, and for their generous gift of time to make it all happen!

Mark your calendars now for May 12 and come back next week for more information.

Lastly, If you would like to help with this project by acting as a sponsor, please contact Mr. Piccard or Dr. Riemersma.

Categories: Community News, Special Projects at APS | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

May 8 Is Voting Day!

Whitney Houston became famous when she so beautifully declared that “the children are our future.”  The words of that song touched a generation and are still so true today. We at Allendale Public believe it is our privilege and duty to “teach them well,”  but we need your help to continue to provide the quality education your family has come to depend on.

Two weeks from today our community will again have the opportunity to exercise its right to vote when Allendale Public Schools’ millage renewal is on the ballot. This 18 mil levy will provide our district with critical funds needed for operational expenses such as servicing buses, paying for heat and light, meeting payroll, and purchasing books and supplies.  Because this is a millage renewal and not a new millage, we are able to receive these funds without raising taxes to homeowners whose primary dwelling is in our district.

Never before has this millage been so crucial. A successful renewal would keep over $2,400,000 dollars in our district, and that means those dollars will be used to teach our students well.

Please remember to vote on Tuesday, May 8!

Categories: Community News, News You Can Use | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

An Essay Contest and An Opportunity to Contribute

click for photo credit

If your child has aspirations of becoming a published writer or seeing their name in a headline, this April they may find their dreams coming true!

This spring we’re excited to announce an in-class essay contest for APS students that will encourage them to thoughtfully answer prompts about their school, the ways that learning in Allendale is fun, and influential teachers that have impacted their lives for the better.

Each of the winners will be photographed and featured here on Allendale Outlook throughout the summer months. Not only will their essays be published, but they will be highlighted on the APS Facebook page and receive a prize!  Winning students will be contacted personally by Superintendent Jonker and awarded a certificate for a free Jet’s Pizza and a Walgreen’s gift card.

Additionally, we’d like to hear from you! Please leave us a comment telling us what stories you’d like to see featured here! Who knows, maybe your name will end up in a headline, too?

Categories: Community News, contests | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Family Fitness Frenzy

Four leaf clovers weren’t the only things springing green this St. Patrick’s Day — hundreds of Allendale students in green t-shirts filled the high school gym on March 17 for our fourth annual Family Fitness Frenzy!

Jumping their way to better health at the Allendale Eye Care Obstacle Course

Jennifer Kraai and Renee Malkowski were just two of the dozens of parent volunteers representing the Allendale PTO whose dedication made the day a huge success. Jennifer was pleased to share that the one-day fundraising event brought in roughly $15,000 to benefit Allendale schools and support special initiatives that don’t receive state funding.

The PTO is quick to share the credit, reminding us that ‘Frenzy day is truly a team effort! They thank principals Jill Wilson and Ryan Coghill and the elementary teachers for their encouragement and “awesome” support, insisting they couldn’t do it without them.

Students interact with GVSU football players at the 2012 Family Fitness Frenzy

The larger focus of helping families stay healthy was something new that captured the interest of many attending. Parents and children alike were encouraged to walk the track and explore zumba and karate together.

“It’s cool to see more families come out this year!” Jennifer beamed. “Kids had the opportunity to not only earn a t-shirt for themselves, but for every $25 raised they could earn a shirt for someone else, too. Many students took the cue to outfit their entire family for the event!”

Students receive instruction in karate

Students were tasked with completing all 6 stations which are loosely based on the Presidential Fitness Goals. We are grateful for the amazing support of our Allendale Community who made the stations possible:

Ready, set, GO!

Free jump ropes courtesy of Helen DeVos Children's Hospital!

I’m always humbled by the support of our community on days like this. It is so evident that we live in a place where parents want to see their children succeed, and in turn, they want to support the schools who help them on their way.

To all who came out, who sponsored a child’s fitness goals, who helped plan the event, who sponsored a station, who cheered behind the scenes, we thank you!

Autographs from GVSU players made his day!

Categories: Athletics/Fitness, Community News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


This winter we were surprised, as were many of you, to learn that the Advance Newspapers would no longer be making its way into your homes each Tuesday. Our Falcon Flier, it seemed, would need a new pair of wings.

While it is still our intention to share news with the Allendale community in print, we feel that you deserve something regular, timely, and available around the clock in addition to those paper mailings. And most of all, we feel that our kids deserve a place to shine. 

The Allendale Outlook is just that place. With weekly updates on current happenings and spotlight stories on exceptional students, this blog is meant to be a showcase of our best stories and our brightest moments.

Click on the “subscribe” button to receive email updates, and help us spread the word by using the SHARE button below to post us on your own Facebook page! Let’s bring the community together, one click at a time.

Categories: blogging, Community News | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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