Fine Arts

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the APS Spring Musical

If the first notes of Somewhere Over the Rainbow take you instantly to a little farm in Kansas, you’re not alone. The L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz hit the big screen seventy-five years ago, creating an American staple that ranks consistently among the Top 10 Movies of All Time in the fantasy category.

This spring, Allendale High School is grabbing some of that magic in its own rendition of this timeless musical. With a script nearly identical to that of the big screen (with the exception of one extra song), the students promise that lovers of this timeless story will be equally spellbound by their fresh take on an old performance.

wizard of ozThose playing the lead roles, Allison Taylor as Dorothy, Aubri Carrell as the Cowardly Lion, Jamie Mashue as the Tinman, and Jacob VanNeuren as the Scarecrow (pictured above during dress rehearsal) say they are looking forward to the challenge of singing and dancing later this week.

For Allison, this opportunity represents a full-circle moment. She explains, “I love this story — I was Dorothy four years in a row when I was little and was a munchkin in this same production the last time Allendale performed it. So for me, playing Dorothy and getting to sing these songs is truly a dream come true.” Allison is a sophomore planning to study musical theater this summer at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

Aubri noted that all four of the leads are also in Chamber Choir together and enjoy many of the same things. However, all of them agree that the dancing component of this story has been a bit of a hurdle.

“Dancing is something that’s not in any of our backgrounds — we just didn’t know anything about it, so learning to dance while we sing has been a challenge. We’re starting to get the hang of it, though,” said both Jamie and Jacob.

Aubri, a junior playing the Cowardly Lion, bubbled over when discussing her involvement. “I’ve done lots of plays in my life, but this is different — this is having a lead role in a musical! And what makes it more fun is that we’re all really good friends outside of this, so it’s a fun way to make more memories together.”

If you would like to come out and support these young thespians, mark your calendars for one of these performances:

Thursday, March 27 – 7:00 pm

Friday, March 28 – 7:00 pm

Saturday, March 29 – 7:00 pm

 Tickets – $7 Adults  ::  $6 Student  ::  $3 children 5 and under




Categories: Allendale High School, Fine Arts, High School Musicals/Plays | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Allendale High School Band & Choir Students Bring Music to Disney

This past Spring Break, while you were cleaning your garage or road tripping with your family, a team of over one hundred Allendale High School musicians traveled to Florida to bring music to the streets of Disney World.

photo of a tour bus of studentsThe group left their familiar surroundings on Friday, March 29 and drove straight through to Orlando, arriving the next day. Mr. Bush noted what a joy it was for him to witness so many of his students taking pictures of Indianapolis and Louisville, cities much larger than some had ever seen. Mr. Bush kept his bus engaged by turning the intercom system into a Science trivia show about the plate tectonics of Kentucky.

“It was fun to see them notice there is much more to this world than life in Allendale — the Earth is big and it’s awesome!” said Mr. Bush.

Allendale High School Choir performing in Disney World

In the planning stages for years, this trip occurs once every four years, a cycle that has been long-established in Allendale with the hopes that each student would have the opportunity to go once in their high school career. Band Director, Mr. Tony Bush, proud to continue the tradition, notes that Allendale boasts Disney trophies dating back to the 1980’s.

But getting to Orlando is not as easy as stepping on a bus: Mr. Bush and Ms. Verdonk first began the application process one year ago!

Disney officials require a daunting list of information for bands. Aside from requesting a list of all local parades the applicant has played in, theme park planners ask for a list of honors received, photos of uniforms, and videos of the band marching.

After receiving this packet of information, Disney coordinators convene to choose a parade best suited to the visiting band’s skill level. The best groups are assigned to evening parades in the Magic Kingdom which are the most high-profile. Mr. Bush was thrilled to hear this response from Florida:

“You’re the biggest and the best, that’s why you get to play in Magic Kingdom’s Electric Light Parade right before evening fireworks!”

photo of Allendale High School performing in Disney World

Allendale High School band performing in Disney WorldWith the help of fundraisers and the generosity of Allendale High School Band Boosters’ scholarships, students worked tirelessly to earn the $900 needed to make the journey. And while that may have been their biggest challenge, the concern weighing on the teachers’ minds was coordinating a safe trip.

“Anytime I have over fifty students taking a trip, I get a little anxious about making sure that everyone is getting my communications, understands the information, and stays safe. When you’re moving across several states, you depend on kids to behave. Luckily, we have perfect kids — they were great the whole time!” said Mr. Bush.

Performing in the Florida climate, even at night, proved tedious work. Students were sweating, working diligently, and concentrating on perfectly performing Louie Louie, Hey Baby, and the fall marching band tune, Magical Mystery Tour.  Mr. Bush said that seeing the group backstage after the parade was his personal highlight:

“The kids were euphoric! They wanted to do it again — or at least return next year! They knew that all their hard work was worth it. Our kids truly shined!”

Congratulations to Mr. Bush, Ms. Verdonk, and all the students who made us proud in Orlando this spring! We applaud you!

Categories: Allendale High School, Fine Arts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Allendale Fifth Graders Enjoy “Fine Arts Day” in Grand Rapids

Fine Arts Day, Allendale Public Schools

Fifth graders Rory MacGeorge, Dakota Riemersma, and Kaylyn Whitten share their experience on Fine Arts Day.

With fresh snow as a backdrop to their adventures, Allendale fifth graders struck out to explore Grand Rapids on their February Fine Arts Day.  Elementary art, music, Spanish, and physical education teachers partnered with classroom educators to create a well-rounded field trip that tied multiple curriculum strands together into a cohesive experience. Departing first thing in the morning, the day was packed with learning opportunities ranging from music to Mexican food!

The group made stops at:

  • The Grand Rapids Symphony
  • The Grand Rapids Art Museum
  • Cinco de Mayo (Mexican Restaurant)
  • Rosa Parks Circle for ice skating

Students were visibly happy upon returning, chattering eagerly about their trip with the wheels still spinning wildly under mops of hair and swinging pony tails.

Allendale Public Schools, Fine Arts Day

Kaylyn shared her favorite memories of Fine Arts Day

Kaylyn Whitten beamed when she described the symphony concert, “The musicians were playing Harry Potter music! I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and I couldn’t believe they were playing it the day we were there. We had learned about a lot of composers at school, but I hadn’t learned about that one!”

Dakota Riemersma agreed, “I was surprised by the enthusiasm of the people playing the music. They even stopped for a slideshow discussion and read poetry to us!”

“We had just studied Beethoven in school and it was cool to hear that music being played,” commented Rory MacGeorge.

The kids bubbled over with excitement, sharing highlights from the art museum, connecting existing projects to ones debuted at ArtPrize, and discussing new exhibits. They also shared how they were instructed to order their lunch in Spanish to native speakers!

Ice skating at Rosa Parks provided a unique opportunity for the fifth graders to accomplish something difficult. Some students, like Dakota, have been skating for years, while others had never been in ice skates at all. Regardless of skill level, spinning and circling the rink incorporated physical education, strength building, and fresh air into the day.

Teacher Gwen Luban shared her own highlight, “At our last stop for the day, one of my students said, “I am so tired.” I asked him why he was so tired. He said, “I’m just trying to take it all in.” What a great experience for many of our students. Families are busy and sometimes we forget about the arts and the impact they have in our lives.”

She went on to sum up the day perfectly:

“There is no substitution for hands-on learning such as this. Students get to touch, see, hear, smell, and feel the experience. It is unlike any understanding that might happen if they were to watch a video or listen to someone retell an experience. Many of our students have never ice skated or seen a live symphony. Some have never eaten in an authentic Mexican restaurant or ever been to an art museum. The West Michigan area has so much to offer. We are blessed to have our students be able to experience such a great trip.”

Categories: Allendale Elementary Schools, Fine Arts | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Allendale Seniors Take Scholastic Art Awards By Storm

APS, Allendale High School, Scholastic Art & Writing Award

(L to R) Kendra DeVrou, Rachel LaBrecque, Lauren Niergarth, Rebekah Van Slooten

For ninety years, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have been recognizing and rewarding creativity in students across the United States. With Robert Redford, Joyce Carol Oates, and Andy Warhol among a litany of Scholastic “alumni”, these young women are in good company!

“The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards continues to be the longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the U.S., and the largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers.” (see link for quote credit)

Despite the clear display of talent from all four artists, each of them opened up to the fact that they didn’t expect to win! Even after submitting amazing works of art (as displayed in January’s Falcon Flier), these seniors exhibited humility and surprise. Their teacher, Erin Overmeyer, explained her difficult role in selecting pieces for consideration:

“I choose the work that I think is the strongest work thus far. I have to pay $5 per entry, so I have to act as juror here and only enter the work that I think is the strongest.”  

Besides her Silver Key and Honorable Mention, Rebekah Van Slooten was awarded two Gold Keys, which means her work will travel on to be judged nationally! For the time being, however, you can view her work and that of our other Silver Key winner Rachel LaBrecque at Kendall College of Art and Design.

In pondering the significance of this recognition, Rachel, who plans to study graphic design at Ferris State University, shared that “[It] means a lot… School and family will be proud no matter what, but it’s really nice to hear that you do good work from people outside that close group.”

Both Lauren and Kendra experimented with mediums unlike those used by their classmates: Lauren with photography and Kendra with typography. Lauren remarked that although it came as a surprise, it was the first competition she’d ever won, and that gave her great satisfaction.

Each of the artists praised the personal attention they receive in Allendale and the freedom they enjoy to create. The joy they experience while holding a paintbrush, charcoal pencil, or camera is a reminder that, while not quantifiable on a multiple choice test, these talents do have the power to change lives.

“The APS art program has been a big part of my life as long as I can remember. To me, art classes are fun, refreshing, and a great place to challenge myself and learn new skills. This love of art made me want to dual-enroll at Kendall. In those classes,  Ms. O helped me learn the techniques I used in my winning artwork,” Rachel said.

For her part, Ms. Overmeyer is proud of the success of her students and noted that these young women are attentive to more than just the canvas in front of them. They are leaders in every sense of the word.

“What really stands out with this year’s group of award winners is their dedication to their school and community.  All four of these young women are talented artists, athletes, accomplished students, class leaders, and active volunteers in their community,” said Ms. Overmeyer.

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

Categories: Allendale High School, Fine Arts, Student Award Winners | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Middle School Bands Grab Perfect Scores at Festival

For the past four years, Mr. Kevin Langejans has taken his middle school bands to the MSBOA State Concert Band Festival with one goal: to be the best they could be. This year, hours of class work and dedicated preparation paid off in spades when they were delivered with news of both 7th and 8th grades bands receiving perfect scores!

Mr. Kevin Langejans

Held this year at Otsego High School, the Festival consists of a panel of four adjudicators that judge bands on the musical concepts of  tone, intonation, rhythm, technique and interpretation. Mr. Langejans compares Festival to the “MEAP” of the band world, where a score of “one” (out of four) in each category represents the highest possible grade. With 230 ensembles participating across the state, the likelihood of receiving all ones is very slim, making the achievements of our students all the more noteworthy!

To underscore this feat, it is incredible to consider that these bands often practice in segments that are separated throughout the day. Perhaps one section of musicians learns and practices during first hour, while the rest of the group is taught in second hour. Mr. Langejans has to find a way to weave the class together seamlessly, getting everyone on track and ready to perform for judges with just a handful of whole group practices.

With each key being examined and every pitch scrutinized, leading a group of young musicians has proven to be a challenge that comes with great rewards.

7th Grader Kalyn is still smiling at the band’s success!

Kalyn Lemke is one of the seventh graders who is still reveling in this achievement. A flute player, Kalyn recalled the excitement she felt when she returned to the bus and heard her teacher make the announcement.

“It was such a good experience to get on the bus and hear that we got all “ones”— I was shocked!

Still, Mr. Langejans is quick to point out that despite the high praise his students deserve for their efforts, what matters most to him is not the performance delivered on a single day, but rather the effort given each day in class.

“I was very pleased to have scored perfectly, of course,…but without a doubt the work they do in the classroom is more important than just one day in front of judges.”

We join the community in congratulating Mr. Langejans and the middle school bands for their outstanding dedication to excellence and phenomenal work at Festival!

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Beauty and the Beast This Week at AHS

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Beauty and the Beast?

Perhaps it’s little Chip or the magical rose; the lonely, disgruntled beast or the well-known songs you’ve loved for years?

(Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour!)

Whatever comes to mind, I’m confident you’ll be inspired when Allendale’s high school theater program offers their rendition of this beloved musical later this week.

Cherry Peterson, the show’s director, is in her 16th year of coaching our young thespians and is excited to see so many components of theater production coming together. With 31 high school students either on stage or in the orchestra, 2 middle school boys, and 11 elementary girls taking part, there is never a dull moment in the Fine Arts Center!

Practice for Beauty and the Beast began in mid-January and has continued through this week in preparation for three upcoming performances.

Justine Olson as Belle

Justine Olson, cast this spring as Belle, is a senior who dreams of one day acting in Los Angeles. With at least eight plays to her credit, she’ll start down the path toward that dream by moving to Chicago next year to attend either Columbia College Chicago or Roosevelt University. She gushed that her “really supportive parents” are cheering her on, wanting to see her fly.

When asked what makes APS theater so special, Justine didn’t hesitate: “The best part of being involved in theater here is working with amazing directors in an amazing building. It’s also led to some great friendships! It’s special.”

Her co-star, senior Jake Lenkiewicz, has more than 17 productions to his credit and is playing Luminaire in this musical.  Jake will be just one of fifty students attending Compass College for Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids next year. He, too, has his sights set on Hollywood and aspires to one day return to Allendale to help others pursue their own acting dreams.

Jake Lenkiewicz as Luminaire

“If I make it, I’d like to come back and help as many kids as I can that are living in a small town but have BIG dreams. They deserve to be able to do something! I’d love to build an Allendale Civic Theater so they could have their own space as nice as the Ceglarek FAC. I started in the civic theater and I’d like to give back.”

These are just two of the terrific students helping to make our spring musical really wonderful. I hope you’ll consider coming out to see the magic unfold!


Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

(March 22, 23, 24 )


Click HERE for ticket prices

Categories: Fine Arts, High School Musicals/Plays | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Oakwood Intermediate’s Fine Arts Fair

Parents enjoy the displays adorning the halls at Oakwood.

Last Monday evening the hallways of Oakwood Intermediate were brimming with families eager to support their young artists. Students grabbed their parents and led them through hallways freshly wallpapered with the work of small hands; musicians played recorders and choir members, led by Mr. Dan DeZwaan, sang for a packed gymnasium.

The "Singing Falcons" perform in the gymnasium.

Proud 4th and 5th graders share their artwork.

4th grader Abby Talcott

Mr. Bol, principal of Oakwood, was excited by the crowds at this annual event and was busy greeting young and old alike.

“It’s great to be able to have parents come in and experience some of what their kids are doing during the day!” he said.

Kids like Abby Talcott agree. Her creativity bloomed the moment Ms. Falkowski, her art teacher, asked the class to use watercolor and crayon to draw koi fish during their fall “Art of Japan” unit.

With face smiling and imagination activated, Abby caught the eyes of Mr. Bol and Ms. Falkowski, who both describe her as a kid who captures the essence of Allendale’s Three R’s: respectful, responsible, and ready to learn.

In her four years at APS, Ms. Falkowski is continually amazed at how engaged and dedicated APS families are in supporting their children. She realizes that not all schools are fortunate enough to run out of 1,000 cookies at an art event!

“Allendale’s art program stands out from the crowd because it sets a high standard,” Ms. Falkowski. “This is obviously a community that’s dedicated to the arts!”

Art teacher Amy Falkowski

I can only echo her sentiments–the support given by our parents and community truly is what makes our work in education meaningful and possible. Thank you!

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