Posts Tagged With: Allendale High School

The Most Important Lesson I Learned at AHS, by Erik Dagen

Dagen, ErikThe number one thing I learned during my time at Allendale is the importance of working and communicating well with others. Being able to communicate calmly and effectively with people is important because it will be easier to get your point across to them. In my AP English class, for example, we sometimes held debates. When debates become heated, simply raising the volume and using louder voices only makes the people who are trying to communicate grow less and less likely to really hear what is being said. When people focus on listening, remaining calm, and using a more calm and soothing voice, real communication can happen. We are all more likely to hear others and to be heard, to be able to think about what others are saying and have them think about what we are saying.

Working well with others also affects group projects. In high school, many of the projects assigned in classes are group projects, and in order to do well on these projects, people need to communicate with each other so they can relay ideas.

Good communication skills and being able to work well with others can help people throughout life, even after high school. When I go to college, get a job, and get married, being able to communicate will make life so much easier. Without communication and “people skills,” we become frustrated can’t make a good impact on those around us. This is why I believe that communication and being able to work well with others are the most important things I have learned in my years at Allendale Public Schools.

Categories: 2014 Summer Series | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Most Important Lesson I Learned at AHS, by Audrey Bergquist

Bergquist, AudreyThe most important thing I’ve learned in Allendale Public is schools is togetherness. I moved to this school when I was in fifth grade. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do in a new school, and I wasn’t the best at making friends. I was kind of shy, but if there’s one thing that Allendale has taught me since those days, it is how to support one another and experience togetherness. This school comes together for everything from football games, to plays, to fundraisers and everything else.

Allendale comes together at football games. Even if that isn’t our best friend out there on the football field playing or marching during the halftime show, the students and staff show our support and pride in the stands. I’ve never watched so many people stay in the stands for a half-time band performance and show as much respect as Allendale does. Staying in the stands and wearing our school colors shows our togetherness.

Allendale is also a school that supports the students in our plays. Again, even if it isn’t our best friend on stage, the student body, the teachers, and the community all come out to see and support the hard work that everyone has put into making a great show.

We support each other in the tough times, too. I’ve watched our school go through the experience of classmates dying twice now since I moved to Allendale in the fifth grade. The first happened when I was in eighth grade: we were shocked to learn that two APS students, brothers Daniel and David Aguilar, were killed in a car accident while visiting family members in Mexico during Christmas vacation. I was a student at Allendale Middle School that year, and we came together as a whole school to remember and honor this young student who had to leave us way too soon. Then, just this past year, an Allendale graduate in the Class of 2013 passed away at Western Michigan University. Alyssa Olafson made such a positive impact and difference in the lives of so many people who knew her at  Allendale Public Schools, and because of her, we came together — students, teachers, administrators, and community members — to show support to each other and comfort one another as we mourned her passing.

My experiences at Allendale Public Schools have taught me a lot since I moved here in fifth grade. Each lesson I’ve learned has had a different impact, but the power of togetherness is something that always will stick with me. Whether it be through sports, music, drama, other school activities, or just through the power of friendship and mutual support, Allendale Public School students stick together. We are always there for each other, especially through the hard times. This is a lesson I’ll never forget.

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AHS Juniors Visit Colleges, Plan for Bright Futures

Allendale High School guidance officer Liz Pellegrom had an idea: she knew the best way to prepare students for the future…was to show it to them. That’s why this spring, the guidance office organized a college visitation day for all juniors desiring to visit Muskegon Community College and Baker, Western or Central Michigan.

Allendale High School, juniors

Students Shelbi Dyke, Nate Couturier and Olivia McClure reflect on their college visits with AHS.

Buses traveled to each of these three locations with roughly 150 kids—nearly the entire junior class. Students interested in other schools had the freedom to plan visits with their parents to those colleges, while those not wanting to miss class were able to stay behind to study.

This was AHS’ first year of doing a trip like this, but Ms. Pellegrom is certain it will become a junior year right of passage. In fact, staff is considering what college visits could mean for freshmen and sophomores, too. If it would help Allendale students start to consider college from an earlier age and then plan accordingly, it could be a “win” for everyone.

“We feel it’s important for students to see what’s out there and have the chance to see a college dorm room, hear what certain colleges have to offer, learn a little bit about financial aid and scholarships, and just be on the campus for something other than just a sports game,” said Ms. Pellegrom. She continued, “It’s really important to get on campus and not apply to schools you’ve never been to.  You have to know if it’s the right fit for you.”

This is something that junior Shelbi Dyke confirmed after visiting MCC and Baker College. “I thought I wanted to go to MCC before the trip and then I was just going to transfer to Grand Valley. However, after visiting there, I actually decided against MCC because I didn’t like it. I didn’t see anyone smiling, and for some reason, this bothered me. On the other hand, I knew nothing about Baker. I was actually dreading it, but then we went there and I’m considering Baker now! I love their dorms and I think I’m going to schedule a visit.”

Olivia McClure also took note of the “happiness factor” when she visited Western Michigan. “That was my #1 thing. At Western, everyone was happy, everyone we passed said “hi”, everyone was really happy.”

She reported that the tour guide called Western a “Heads-Up” School, meaning that students aren’t walking around with the heads buried in their phones or other devices, they are interacting and engaging with each other.  Also, everyone keeps their dorm room doors open as a way to meet other people which Olivia really liked.

Several students also shared how valuable it was to talk with admissions counselors about things like overnight guests, sports opportunities, family visits, roommates and other on-campus opportunities. They realized that tapping social media for information about colleges, a common practice for some, is not all that reliable when held up against conversations had with actual students in real dorms.

Nate Couturier enjoyed getting to see what Central Michigan had to offer. “I thought CMU was pretty cool. There are a lot of different activities to do, and there’s a big student rec. center, basketball courts and swimming pool—everything you’d need to keep yourself occupied on campus.” Nate still has plans to visit U of M and Indiana University.

Juniors appreciated the effort made by the school to visit the colleges, thanking guidance counselors and Mr. Rememap for the opportunity to make  informed choices for the future.

“Mr. Remenap really cares about our education, more than the average principal, I would say. And I think I’m pretty prepared to go to college.”


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Mock Crash Delivers High Impact Warning Before Prom & Graduation

This past Saturday marked Allendale High School’s Senior Prom: a night of dancing and new dresses, polished shoes and dinner out.

But local police officers know that for some, prom means pushing boundaries and making choices that have lasting consequences. That’s why they used Friday afternoon to host a “mock crash” at AHS to demonstrate to students the real effects of drinking and driving — and the devastation of the aftermath.

crashScene, Allendale High School

Jake Mucha, Allendale’s school resource officer organized the event long with four students who acted in the crash.

  • 1 girl [driver] pretended to die in the crash
  • 1 girl [driver] pretended to be an intoxicated driver, causing the crash
  • 1 boy [passenger] was “injured” and fled the scene, eventually tracked down by the police K-9 unit
  • 1 boy [passenger] had to be extricated from the car


Allendale High School

With the help of the Allendale Fire Department and the generosity of Allendale Towing who donated the cars, the police department brought in two vehicles, already crashed, and staged them to resemble a head-on collision. Officer Mucha welcomed all upperclassmen outside and set the scene for them:

“Kaileigh and Sam were on their way to prom after attending a pre-prom party where they were drinking. Coupled with Kaileigh’s intoxicated state and being distracted by her passenger, she crossed the center line on Lake Michigan Drive and ran head-on into the other students. One of the passengers was able to call 911 before passing out.

Police arrived at the scene, quickly followed by an ambulance and the fire department. Just prior to the police arriving, Sam, Kaileigh’s passenger, fled the scene and ran to hide in a nearby porta-john.The police called for the K-9 unit and the dog soon picked up Sam’s scent and led the officer to the porta-john where Sam was hiding.

Of the students hit in oncoming traffic, Aaron was injured and had to be extricated from the car. Officers performed drunk driving tests on Kaileigh before arresting her.”

Allendale High School

stretcher, Allendale High School

Officer Mucha explained that the crash, which is demonstrated every-other year, is designed to raise awareness for “any bad decisions that tend to take place, especially this time of year. Specifically, we’ve got prom tomorrow and graduation coming up. We just remind them that accidents can happen, and especially when you couple it with bad decisions or distracted driving, people can get really hurt. People can die.”

To bring home this reality, Allendale’s social worker had also organized the “Every 15 Minutes” program that same day. Throughout the day, a student dressed as the Grim Reaper walked through school, pointing to one student at a time who is “killed.” That student is brought into the hallway, given a black “Every 15 Minutes” t-shirt and had their face painted white. With white faces increasing in numbers throughout the day, the idea was to remind students of the very real impact of drunk driving on young people.

drunk driving, Allendale Public Schools

Kaileigh Baia, a junior who participated as a crash actor and pictured above, has taken part in the mock crash before and is passionate about reminding her classmates of the dangers that come with distracted driving and driving under the influence.

“We don’t ever think about the future, of what could happen, we just think ‘Oh, that could never happen to me,’ but it could happen to anybody,” she said.

Officer Mucha is passionate about attacking the issue head on in a pro-active manner rather than merely hoping students will make wise decisions:

“Thank God Allendale has been very fortunate that we have not had any students killed in a car crash since I’ve been here, but we have had crashes and injuries. Occasionally we have drunk driving incidents, but whenever possible we want to get out in front of it and be preventative.  Hopefully, we have some sort of impact.”


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Meet Your Principal: Dan Remenap

Dan Remenap, Allendale Public School, Allendale High SchoolTell us about your career journey in education, including how long you’ve been in your current role at Allendale.  

I am in my 18th year in education.  I started teaching at Grandville High School in 1996, and I taught English, math, and a Leadership class.  I then took a job as the assistant principal at Spring Lake High School and was there for two-and-a-half years.  I then came to AHS as the high school principal and am starting my 5th year here.

What makes you love coming to work each day? 

I love seeing the students daily.  I love their energy, enthusiasm, and positive spirit.  I really enjoy our staff, and I love the challenge as well.

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

I answer -sometimes literally- hundreds of emails, and I make decisions that will make one person or group of people very happy and another very unhappy.

Name something you personally look forward to each school year.  

I love football games because they involve so many aspects of the school community; the band, the players, the students having a ball in the stands, everything, I just love it.  I love Collage because I am consistently blown away by the caliber of our students’ talent.  I love meeting the freshman class, I love Honors Convocation, and I kind of love graduation, but I hate saying good-bye.

If you had an unlimited financial and/or volunteer reserve, what would you do to improve your educational environment?  

I don’t think funds have anything to do with environment, I believe it is the attitude of the staff, and I wouldn’t change a thing in that area.  I would love to have a program, though, that would mentor those students who just do not seem to have a connection to the school.

What was the best part of your summer vacation?  

The best part of my summer was all of the time I was able to spend with my family.  During the school year there are days I do not see my kids and it stinks, so we do a TON together during the summer.

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

It is very difficult for me to choose my favorite book because there are so many good ones.  I LOVE The Catcher in the Rye and feel like it should be read by all teenagers, especially those who feel at odds or confused with life and/or adults.  Raising Fences is outstanding; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Fahrenhiet 451, The Scarlet Letter, The Prophet, The Bible … the list goes on and on!  As far as professional reading, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a life changer of a book…I could go on!  If I started on kids’ books, this list would not end because we have read to our kids every night for years and that list of books is really long!

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

There is so much to learn that ONE piece of advice is tough.  That said, I would say, just be a good person, don’t sweat the small stuff, and enjoy your life.

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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 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 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 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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