District Updates

High Fives to Another Successful Family Fitness Frenzy!

What do cup stacking, Gaga ball and obstacle courses have in common? They were all part of Allendale Public School’s 6th Annual Family Fitness Frenzy!

Allendale Fitness Frenzy

The event, organized to raise support for Allendale Parent Teacher Organizations, had a financial goal of raising $15,000 which would sponsor things like additional science learning opportunities, mother/son events and daddy/daughter dances, 4th & 5th grade “Fun Day” and buses for field trips to name a few. Wendy Williams, co-director of Fitness Frenzy, noted that they had already brought in over $13,000 from students prior to opening the morning’s silent auction.

“We’d love to reach $20,000 this year!” she said. “We want to give kids experiences at school that maybe they wouldn’t be able to have without this fundraising, whether it’s assemblies that are coming in, field trips they are going on or material purchases that they need within their classrooms.”

Melissa Fennell co-directs the event with Wendy and says that this event is unique from other fundraisers:

“We’re trying to teach from an early age the importance of being physically active. The event is multi-pronged: it’s to bring the community together with our sponsors, provide a venue for families to interact with teachers outside of school, and to get the families out and about. We try to do this one big event so we’re not bombarding busy parents with multiple fundraisers during the year. Plus, with other fundraisers, you end up writing a check for your student but don’t really get to do anything with your family. This is so different in that sense.”

Allendale Fitness Frenzy

This year hosted events like Kick it! Kickboxing, gymnastics, Michigan Blood Drive, free massages from Brusveen Chiropractic Clinic & Therapy, Grand Valley Dentistry play doh station, indoor track, AHS cheerleading, fan favorites GVSU football and volleyball, and many more.

The group based much of their planning, which began in September 2013, on results they received from various surveys distributed by the PTO. They found that parents were looking for new ways to engage 4th & 5th graders, so the committee brought in the True Value Climbing Wall. They additionally conducted another survey with the hopes of bringing in additional parent volunteers, however the results were disappointing, forcing the committee to look at other possible options for future years. If you’re interested in helping plan for Family Fitness Frenzy 2015 or have ideas to spur fundraising in the future, contact members of your PTO to get involved.

Thanks to Wendy, Melissa and the entire planning committee for their months of dedicated and careful planning! Our community reaped the benefits of your hard work!

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Allendale Fitness Frenzy

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School Kicks off By Offering Early College Program

Early College Program, MCC, Muskegon Community College, Allendale Public SchoolsFor many Allendale students, high school means classes, sports, lab reports, and even prom. For others, it may mean working after school, volunteering in the community, or starring in the spring musical.

But this year there will be another item to add to the list for a handful of students hoping to take advantage of additional learning opportunities offered through Muskegon Community College.

Allendale High School is proud to launch the Northwest Ottawa County Early College program this fall, which will allow juniors like Joe Secord and Jason Marshall (pictured left) to spend just one more year in high school in exchange for a free associate’s degree upon graduation.

“The program was designed for anyone, but particularly for the student who may not desire a four-year experience or for the student who can’t afford a traditional college degree. This will offer the opportunity for high school students to earn a two-year degree with all tuition costs covered,” said Allendale High School guidance counselor, Mr. Jason Fogel.

Mr. Fogel began laying the groundwork for this program a year ago after a meeting with Jason Pasatta at the Ottawa County Intermediate School District. At that time, the idea was just a skeleton with piles of paperwork looming, but with more and more schools inching toward this destination, they knew that offering college coursework to Allendale students was an achievable objective.

Allendale is now part of the first 60 student “cohort” to join Muskegon Community College’s program. With Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Coopersville rounding out the cohort participants, the number of students allotted per school is determined proportionate to the school size.

To fill those slots, interested students must first take the MCC Compass Placement Test which determines whether the applicant is ready for the academic rigors of college-level classes while yet in high school. Accepted students will be bused to the Tech Center, where MCC professors will be waiting to provide instruction. At this writing, both Joe and Jason (pictured) are candidates for the program.

“I think it’s always good to get a jumpstart on your education,” said Joe. “I wanted to have a plan so I can get moving more quickly, which will help save money. I’d like to study to be a math teacher because I love math and being around math, but I’d prefer to help others rather than just do my own thing. It just feels right.”

Jason’s motivation is different, but still reflects the drive to keep moving and seize this unique opportunity.

“I’m actually almost done with all my high school credits and I need good classes to fill in space,” Jason explained. “I’d like to go into the medical field, so I’ll be taking a lot of math and science classes–for free!”

Principal Dan Remenap explains, “This program helps students earn a degree. That’s what’s most appealing for the kids. Once they have that, it can’t be taken away. It also gets kids focused on their career sooner, which is a good thing. Even if they decide to not pursue this program, just considering it helps them move in the right direction.”

Categories: Allendale High School, Allendale Public Schools, District Updates, News You Can Use | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Teachers and Staff Members Prepare for Success

From L to R: Kari Brose, Elena Berkemeier, Andi Lee, Laurie Bulleman, Terri Maness, Rachel Barker, Emily Verdonk

It isn’t every year that we have the privilege of welcoming so many new teachers to our district! This fall however, our ranks are swelling and we feel lucky to be introducing you to some of those teachers today. As we accommodate new state legislation mandating all-day kindergarten and increased requirements for foreign language, these teachers come aboard with highly specialized qualifications and hearts for reaching and teaching the next generation of Falcons. Please make them feel welcome and supported next time you see them in the hallways of your child’s school!


1. Elena Berkemeier joins our middle school and high school Spanish team this year after having graduated from Grand Valley State University in December of 2011. Ms. Berkemeier holds a Teaching Major in Spanish degree along with a minor in psychology and spent last winter in a long-term subbing position at Grandville Middle School. She is excited to have her own classroom and get to know her students, the other staff members, and the Allendale community.

Elena is the oldest of six children from Jackson, MI, but has been living in the greater Grand Rapids area for seven years. A “little-known fact” about her is that she is half Nicaraguan! Make sure to ask Ms. Berkemeier about her heritage when you welcome her!

2. Terri Maness will be joining the Kindergarten team in our Elementary school.  With a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Mrs. Maness has taught pre-school, 1st grade and Kindermusik classes. She most recently served as a Title I interventionist at Allendale Elementary School, and shares that she is “so looking forward to creating a wonderful atmosphere in my classroom for our Kindergarten children to learn, grow, sing, play, create and make new friends.”

Terri lives in Allendale with her husband Jim, their 4 children ranging in age from 10 – 20 years, and their dog, Snickers. She enjoys hiking, biking, playing tennis, singing, playing the flute, entertaining friends, and watching her children grow. Allendale is thrilled to have you, Mrs. Maness!

3. Rachel Barker will be joining the fifth grade teaching staff at Oakwood Intermediate. She has a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and Learning Disabilities from Hope College, and worked most recently as a special education instructional aide at Oakwood. When asked what she’s most looking forward to, she replied, “… getting to know my students and helping them set and achieve academic and personal goals (… and going to fifth grade camp!).

In her spare time, Rachel also works as a group exercise instructor, teaching Pilates and PiYo classes at SnapFitness and at Grand Valley State University. She draws her inspiration from her grandfather, Les, who is going to 93 in September and continues to exercise daily. She shares that her grandfather has taught her “…a great deal about perseverance, commitment, and being thankful for each day.”

Mrs. Barker lives in Allendale with her husband, Drew, and their two cats. Please stop in and give her a warm Allendale welcome!

4. Kari Brose joins us this year as a fourth grade teacher at Oakwood in a job share capacity with Ms. Carrie Helmholdt. Mrs. Brose majored in science with a mathematics emphasis and Elementary Education minor. She joins us after having also taught third grade at Griffin Elementary in Grand Haven Area Public Schools. When asked what she’s looking forward to this school year, Mrs. Brose shared, “At the beginning of each school year I really look forward to meeting all my new students and really getting to know them. It is so exciting to watch them grow and learn throughout the year.”

Mrs. Brose lives in Allendale with her husband, their four children, and a “great big dog”!  Please join me in welcoming Kari next time you’re at Oakwood Intermediate!

5. Mrs. Andrea (Andi) Lee adds to our Kindergarten and Developmental Kindergarten ranks with degrees in Special Education, Elementary Education, and an Early Childhood Endorsement from GVSU. She comes to us after having taught one year of Kindergarten in Grant, MI and two years of preschool in Newaygo, MI. Like many of the others we’ve interviewed, Mrs. Lee most looks forward to meeting her students and their families, and watching the student growth that will take place over the course of the year.

Andi and her husband currently reside in Sparta, MI.  A “little-known fact” about Andi is that she collected real cash registers as a child! (yes — the grocery store kind!)  Welcome, Mrs. Lee!

6. Laurie Bullerman joins our district family as an Occupational Therapist with a Masters Degree in the same from Western Michigan University. Laurie last worked in a pediatric clinic in Cedar Rapids Iowa for 2 years. She looks forward to getting settled in a classroom and getting started with her “kids.”

Later this month she and her husband, an engineer at Johnson Controls, will be moving into their new home in Hudsonville with their Bernese Mountain dog, Ollie. She calls herself a compulsive cleaner and vacuums her home twice a day! Remember to take your shoes off when you welcome Laurie to our team!

7.Emily Verdonk comes to us as a High School Vocal Music Teacher. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Western Michigan University and has previously taught middle school/high school vocal music in Nekoosa, WI. She is most looking forward to meeting all of her students and getting to know them as they learn and make music.

Ms. Verdonk feels extremely blessed to live close to family in West Michigan. Both of her parents live in South Haven, an older brother lives in Grand Rapids, and a younger brother attends University of Michigan. Emily loves birds and has two of her own: parakeets named Brahms and Bronte. She practices yoga regularly and frequents South Haven for its beaches and beautiful sunsets. Please give a warm welcome to Emily next time you hear music in the hallways!
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