Summer Series

Thank you Allendale, From Quentin Rauch

Allendale Public SchoolsThroughout all the up and downs I can truly say, my experience at Allendale High School has been invaluable. This four year opportunity allows kids to slowly take those first few steps toward becoming an adult. Some kids are inspired and take the bull by the horns, but some kids refuse. They don’t think much of high school, and what little they do think is negative. One thing those kids have taught me is that it is essential to have a positive attitude if you wish to succeed in any aspect of life.

I am so thankful for all of the teachers who helped me stay motivated and not lose track of what was important. I can credit all of my accomplishments to those individuals who helped me along the way. These past few years have been filled with much expenditure from being a tri-sport athlete, to being in student council, the National Honor Society, spirit club and Rotary Interact; I am motivated to continue to strive for this positive attitude while encouraging my peers to do the same.

High school can sometimes be a scary place that attempts to steer you away from your own personal beliefs and values, but Allendale is different. Allendale is unique. Our school allows every student to thrive and succeed in their own way.

Throughout my four years I have been blessed with many opportunities and learned many new lessons. Being positive about life and the individuals in it is one lesson that I will take with me for the rest of my life. Thank you to all the administrators, staff, students and coaches who have helped me become the man I am today.

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Thank you Allendale, From the Riemersma Family

Allendale Public SchoolsIt is difficult to comment merely on a particular teacher or a specific event that has impacted our student at Allendale Public Schools. Instead we would like to celebrate the imagination and teamwork of the teachers, administrators and assistants who have implemented the creative projects and fieldtrips that have enlivened learning for our son, Dakota Riemersma and the other students here.

Though we are big advocates of reading, we realize that there are additional ways to learn. The numerous projects, fieldtrips, student-led groups and independent research that you provide are vital for showcasing students’ different didactic abilities and interests.

Riemersma, Allendale Public School, Summer SeriesDakota was absorbed in research when building his Newton Scooter balloon car or diagnosing his “patient” for the problem-based learning medical panel project. He became animated when discussing his book for book club or his class newspaper journalism stories. And, of course, he was ecstatic about all aspects of the Specials field trip and the recent Camp Pinewood trip.  This excitement and engagement opens the curious mind so the learning can sneak right in.

Thank you, Allendale Public Schools, for believing that education is more than memorizing and regurgitating strings of meaningless facts and formulas. Thank you for thinking outside the box!

Lena, Peter, Dakota Riemersma

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Thank you Allendale, From Dan Hoekstra

Allendale Public SchoolsDear Allendale Public Schools,

Thank you so much for everything you have done for me growing up. For as long as I can remember, Allendale has always treated every student equally, and everyone was given the best possible opportunity to achieve greatness and excel. I graduated in the top ten with a 4.05 GPA, and I give all the credit to my teachers and the staff in charge of running the school. I strongly believe that Allendale Public Schools is the greatest school in the area.

If I would have attended school in any other district, I would not have been treated as greatly as I have been treated at Allendale, nor would I be given the same opportunities that Allendale has to offer. Growing up in the Allendale Public School system has transformed me into the positive student, peer, and man that I have become.

Not only is Allendale a great school in terms of academics and opportunity, but the faculty and staff do an outstanding job of making everyone feel like one big family. I felt comfortable 100% of the time at Allendale, and I felt like I could talk to my teachers about anything. The staff will go out of their way to ensure a safe and family-like environment, and will come in at any time anyone needs some extra one-on-one help or study time.

At Allendale, the student comes first.

Thanks again, Allendale Public Schools, for everything you have done for me. Without Allendale, I don’t know where I’d be. Growing up in Allendale has taught me so much about myself and my character, and I cannot wait to take everything that I have learned to Hope College and into the real world.


Dan Hoekstra

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Thank you Allendale, From the Rader Family

Allendale Public SchoolsWe are very blessed to live in the community of Allendale where we can be actively involved in the lives of our children.  We are thankful for the commitment of the Allendale Public Schools in helping our children achieve personal excellence and providing them with so many extended learning opportunities.  We are grateful to be able to be involved in our children’s classrooms, their school buildings, and their extra curricular activities.

This year, we had Tarek at Oakwood in Mrs. Winkler’s 5th grade class, where I had the opportunity to volunteer weekly.   I was able to be involved in the PALs reading program, where students read aloud in partners following a system of checking and questioning each other.  I was impressed with the advancements I saw in the students’ reading skills.  Tarek was focused on improving his reading this year and with Mrs. Winkler’s goal setting, help from Oakwood’s reading interventionists, and the PALs program. He also saw an increase in his Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) score of 350 points!
Allendale Public Schools, Summer series, Rader FamilyTarek also had the opportunity to spend time every day with Mrs. Beck for 6th grade math, and we are very pleased that Allendale provides opportunities for advanced placement coursework. Tarek and I also got to go to 5th grade camp at Camp Pinewood for three days this spring.  The camp had never had such a large number of students and parents; it was a testament to our school and our community that we all want to be involved in the lives of our students and their classmates.  Not only was the camp designed to teach the students about survival, nature and testing their limits, it was focused on encouraging the students to see themselves as a community and supporting each other.   I’m looking forward to seeing this class move into the middle school next year with all of these involved parents looking after them.
Our daughter, Holt, was in 2nd grade this year at Evergreen with Mrs. Knauf. This was our second time having a child in her class, and her classroom management skills are excellent; she keeps the kids focused and on task in a very quiet, no-nonsense way.  I was very happy to be able to volunteer in her classroom every week reading plays, playing math games and getting to know my daughter’s classmates.  This year, Holt was excited to be a part of Mr. DeZwaan’s zero hour Falcon Kids Choir.  He gives up his own time to come in early to support and encourage those students who love music.  The Singing Falcons and the Falcon Kids Choir capped off their year singing the National Anthem at a White Caps game. What a thrilling opportunity!
I appreciate that Allendale Public Schools are focused on pursuing personal excellence,  offering advanced placement courses, addressing student’s needs as they arise, developing new strategies, providing extended learning opportunities, and encouraging parent involvement.  I am proud that our community supports our students and their school district.  We as a family thank you for another wonderful year at APS.
The Raders
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Thank you Allendale, From Annie DeSmith

Allendale Public SchoolsDear Allendale Public Schools,

Although I have only been attending a school in the Allendale Public system for four years now (I attended Allendale Christian School from kindergarten to eighth grade), I have truly been blessed by my experience at Allendale High School.

Words cannot hope to express the full extent of my thanks and gratitude toward all who have influenced me and encouraged me at Allendale High, both in my studies and in my personal life. Those on staff at the high school are so talented and have taught me so much; I am forever in debt to the countless teachers who have shown me who I am and what I stand for. There are some teachers in particular who I would love to give special thanks to.

I have had a strong passion for writing since I was a child, and writing has been a hobby and a solace for me, especially in my high school years. However, I never would have continued to write past middle school if I had not been encouraged and complimented by Mr. Mike Sispera, my freshman English teacher. Up until my first year of high school, I had never been told that I was a talented writer, or that I could go far in the writing world. Writing wasn’t something I really thought about. But Mr. Sispera raved about the pieces that I wrote and told me that I was phenomenal, that I had a natural gift that was worth something. I have been writing ever since and will continue to do so for the rest of my life; I could never imagine stopping. Thank you, Mr. Sispera, for fueling the creativity within me.

Because of my love for English, it could be said that I have a natural tendency to grow attached to my English teachers. But even apart from their professions, Mrs. Jenna Chisholm and Mrs. Rebecca Karnes are two of the most genuine, caring, and truly talented people I have ever met. Mrs. Chisholm helped to encourage me when my perfectionism and homework-obsessed habits kept me up all night, and Mrs. Karnes was always there to address life’s deepest matters with me: God, faith, and the sheer beauty of life. Thanks so much to both of you; I may not have made it through high school without you.

Being a part of the music department during my high school years was perhaps one of the most positive decisions that I made because I was constantly able to expose myself to one of the activities that I adore – singing. While singing in the high school choir, I learned many valuable lessons about music, self-expression, and the performing arts. However, the grueling hours of drilling notes, phrasing, and pronunciation would have been torture without Mr. Tony Bush. Mr. Bush always made me laugh and showed me how fun and enjoyable creating music could be. I easily grew attached to Mr. Bush because of how much he cared for all of his students, and I dreaded my last concert with him. The final Collage performance of my senior year was a particularly emotional night because it meant leaving him behind; seeing tears in his eyes and giving him one last hug reminded me of all of the love he had shown me and the rest of the music department. Mr. Bush, thanks for making all of the hard work and practice worth it.

If ever I came to school without a smile on my face, I was sure to acquire one by the time I arrived to Mrs. Denise Heyblom’s French class. Mrs. Heyblom is one of the happiest people I have ever met, and she was almost like a mother to me. When something went wrong or when I was upset, she was always there; I could walk into her room at any time and feel better, no matter the situation. Thank you, Mrs. Heyblom, for being a rayon de soleil on my darkest days.

In all four years of high school at Allendale, I never learned, thought, or applied myself more than when I took two trimesters of required Biology taught by Mr. Duane Watson. Because of Mr. Watson, I became endlessly facinated with how body systems function, with how perfectly all living things work together, and with how intricately God created the universe. To this day, I believe Mr. Watson to be one of the smartest people I have ever met, and his wisdom has never failed me. Even in my senior year, I sometimes found myself stopping outside the door to his classroom and sitting down just to listen to his lectures. Mr. Watson, thank you for stirring a passion inside me for the world and all of its wonders, from the tiniest cell to the infinite boundaries of the cosmos.

My favorite place inside the high school has always been and will always be the library. The smell of books, the full shelves, and the endless reading possibilities were enough to draw me in for hours. But I loved the person who kept the library in check just as much as the paper inhabitants of the shelves. Mrs. Arva Sommers became the school librarian during my senior year, and in that short amount of time, she showed me nothing but kindness. Whether it was helping me find what I needed or informing me about all of the best reads, Mrs. Sommers never ceased to be friendly, devoted to her job, and full of bright smiles. It is clear to me that she had and still has a passion for students and their intellectual hunger; she was very fond of the library’s “regulars” and was always willing to help and to serve. I plan on pursuing the field of library science, and Mrs. Sommers has encouraged me to carry on the librarian’s legacy and to always be helpful and affectionate towards those who have taken it upon themselves to become readers and dreamers. Thank you, Mrs. Sommers, for showing me what being a librarian is all about.

In general, I want to thank Allendale High School and the Allendale Public School system as a whole for molding me into the person I’ve become. All of the staff and teachers are quality people and genius educators; I believe Allendale High School to be full of the wisest and most gifted teachers in the area and the hardest working staff around. Because of Allendale High School, I will never forget the comfort of true friendship, the encouragement of caring teachers, and the value of a solid education. Thank you so much for all that you’ve done for me.


Annie DeSmith

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Thank you Allendale, From the Haisma Family

Allendale Public SchoolsAs a parent, there are many different decisions to make when raising your children. For us, there was a lot of apprehension when deciding what school our children would attend. As our oldest prepared to enter school, we asked many friends and neighbors what they thought about Allendale Public Schools. The sentiments were the same from each person we asked – you can’t go wrong with APS.

Once our daughter, Molly, was in kindergarten, we were glad we listened to our friends. Molly came home from school each day with a smile and full of fun stories about why her teacher, Mrs. Lee, is “so silly” and how they were building “stamina” for learning in her class. It is a blessing to hear a child so excited not just about school, but also about learning.

Beyond Molly’s classroom, the entire school atmosphere at Allendale Elementary is amazingly positive. Students are encouraged to be “Respectful, Responsible, and Ready to Learn” by earning Falcon Tickets throughout the school year. Molly practically flew off the bus beaming with pride the day she earned her first Falcon Ticket. That kind of positive environment is just where I want my child to attend school.

Haisma Family, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High SchoolAcademics are definitely still the focus at Allendale.  It isn’t uncommon to have a discussion with our six year old about how Robert Munsch and Jan Brett books are different, or how they learned to use their “eagle eyes” or find “word chunks” while reading at school.  Molly doesn’t even realize how much she has learned this year.  She just knows she has a wonderful time at school; the knowledge gained is an afterthought to her.  School is not a chore to be endured – it is an experience to be enjoyed. 

Allendale Public Schools is more than just a wonderful place to learn. It is also a place where teachers care.  They don’t just care about the curriculum in Allendale; they also care about the students. Molly isn’t just another child in her class, she’s an individual who is understood and valued. It isn’t uncommon to receive a quick update from Mrs. Lee if a morning has been rough or even if she just wants to share an accomplishment Molly had in the classroom. It is a blessing to have a child in an environment where you know everyone from the crossing guard to the principal, and everyone in between, will have a smile and a kind word for your child.

We are very thankful we listened to the advice and chose Allendale Public Schools for our family. It is definitely not a decision we regret.


Jorden and Jennifer Haisma

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Thank You Allendale, from Alexis Jimenez

Allendale Public Schools

What do you think of an alternative school? Well, don’t have the wrong impressions of them. All the people that go to them have different stories, so I, Alexis Jimenez, am going to tell you my story.

I’ve been that “new kid” quite a few times at schools since I’ve moved a few times, even out of the country. I’ve been to three different high schools since my freshman year. The previous schools I’ve been to are Kenowa Hills, which I attended from 5th – 9th grade. Then it was Jenison. I was there for all of 10th grade and only a few weeks when I was in 11th grade. That’s when I decided to make my choice to go to New Options.

It’s hard making new friends when you transfer schools, especially in high school where people in high school have friends since elementary school and know everybody. When I transferred to Jenison I didn’t fit in that well. I did try my best to make friends and even played sports to make friends. Day by day people would make fun of me or give me looks, so I changed myself. Who I was, my clothes, everything about me was different. It wasn’t who I was.

Alexis Jimenez, Allendale Public Schools, APS, New Options High SchoolAfter all that change it still didn’t cut it. I gave up and had enough of it by my junior year, and that’s when my brother had a talk with me and told me that I should go to New Options, so I took his advice. And honestly, going to New Options has been the best experience of my high school years.

Alternatives schools aren’t as bad as you think they are. Everybody has a story of why they go to them. My story was because of the lack of friends. I tried making them for so long I gave up, but at New Options, you make friends on the first day. The people are so nice and welcoming, here you can be considered family.

So don’t let a wrong impression of alternative schools fool you.

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Thank you Allendale, From Katherine Sauter

Allendale Public SchoolsAs I graduate this May and look back on my years at APS, I realize I have much to be thankful for.  The old saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child” and this is very true in my academic career.

First, elementary school.  Thank you, elementary teachers, for all you did to give me a great foundation to build on, for making learning fun, for caring about me, for being excited for every lost tooth, every show and tell, and everything else that made me feel so special.

Then came middle school. Thank you, middle school teachers, for building higher on our foundation, for challenging us for the tough classes you knew were ahead, for engaging us in fun and creative ways, for dealing with us as middle-schoolers.  The fact you willingly work with middle-schoolers every day with smiles on your faces and care and concern in your hearts speaks volumes about you as teachers and as people.

Katherine Sauter, Allendale Public Schools, Allendale High School, Summer SeriesFinally, high school.  Thank you, high school teachers, for continuing to challenge us, for showing us what the world has to offer, for teaching us that language is more than words, that math is more than numbers, that music is more than individual notes.  Thank you for helping us discover ourselves and providing many outlets for us to do so.

Every year, thank you, secretaries, lunch moms, playground helpers, cleaning staff, bus drivers, crossing guards, for doing all the things we fail to notice and acknowledge that keep our schools running safely and smoothly.  Thank you for all the bandaids given, messages taken, yogurts opened, spills cleaned, wastebaskets emptied, routes carefully driven, and everything else you do daily that helps us in more ways than we know.

Thank you superintendent, principals, and Board of Education for seeking out the best teachers and making Allendale the best place to learn.   Your guidance and support helps Allendale to always strive for excellence.

Thank you, Allendale Public Schools, for giving me the skills and confidence to grow as a person and as a student.  I look forward to my next step/chapter/adventure at Michigan State University, knowing that APS has prepared me for success.


Katherine Sauter

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Thank You Allendale, From The Hinken Family

photo of the Hinken Family, Allendale Public Schools

Allendale Public SchoolsWe, as a family, were new to Allendale Public Schools this past fall.  We have two children, Josh (8th grade) and Jenna (2nd grade).

One of the things that impressed us about APS this past year was the kindness and concern the teachers had for my children as they transitioned into a new school.  By the time we left Jenna’s second grade open house, which was held before the first day of school, Jenna felt very welcome and at ease.  The evening of the first day of 8th grade, we, as parents, had an opportunity to meet Josh’s teachers.  That evening several teachers indicated that they knew Josh was a new student and expressed their interest in investing in a positive transition for him.  Both kids transitioned very well and for that we are so grateful!

This week I asked both Josh and Jenna to tell me one thing they liked about APS (I wanted to write something from their perspective).  Josh’s response was, “the size of the school (meaning with respect to the number of students): it is not too small and it is not too big!”  Jenna’s response was “the teachers!”  These are both very important when it comes to a day at school for a child/student.

I can’t believe how fast the school year has gone.  As I look back on the year I am not only reminded of the positive transition but other positive experiences the kids had at APS such as Josh’s positive experience in sports and Jenna’s positive experience in the Falcon Choir and at Good Time Friends.  I have told many family members and friends that when I ask the kids how their school day was they almost always respond “GOOD!”  For this we are also so grateful!

[photo courtesy of the Hinken Family]

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Thank You Allendale, from James Troost

Allendale Public SchoolsMy name is James Troost. I am a New Options student that came from a local high school. I came to New Options in early February of 2013. I have so far enjoyed my experience with New Options and I plan  on staying until I graduate.

Everyone comes to New Options for a reason. It is not just a school that a parent would enroll their kid into to get a regular high school experience. That being said, I am going to share the reason I have ended up at New Options. At my old school I was very stressed out. I have been going through a lot of personal life problems that caused me to go off the deep end. School became so stressful for me to the point where I could not concentrate in any class. At one point, I am not entirely sure when, I just gave up on myself and started to ruin my own potential.

Now with me not caring about myself as far as school goes, my quality of life drastically went downhill. My parents really had no way of motivating me because if I don’t care about myself no one is going to be able to get me to care about school. Not caring was what I saw as the only way to relieve the stress that was brought onto me.

After my parents ran out of ideas to try to help me, they suggested that I just drop out. If I wasn’t going to do anything in school, there really is no point in going. I really could not do that to myself. Just taking all of my potential and throwing it into the garbage. I was not going tolet that happen. So then my parents suggested the idea of enrolling me into New Options. This just seemed like the best of both worlds. I am going to be able to graduate from high school but on top of that I am not going to stress myself out to the point where I can’t function. This is what I saw to be the best solution to my problem.

James Troost, Allendale Public Schools, APS, New Options High School

New Options, I feel, was created to help those in difficult times to get as close as possible to reaching their full potential. I find that it is doing that for me. The reasons I enjoy this school are simple. New Options helps me complete all of my assignments within the school hours, that way I do not have the stress of bringing loads of work home with me. That was a huge problem at my old school.

Another reason I really enjoy this school is because everyone here has their own story, their own reason for being here. That helps me stay motivated because now I know I am not the only one dealing with these problems. All of the teachers here truly want to see you pass with flying colors, and they are willing to do anything they can do to help you achieve that. And nothing is more important in school than teachers that care.

New Options is a place that I am happy going to. I personally feel that it is the reason I started to care about my life again. If anyone ever goes through what I went through, I would strongly recommend that you enroll as soon as possible. When you feel there are no options left, there is always New Options.

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