The Appleseed

June 2023

Update from the Superintendent

As we approach the end of the academic year, I am writing to express my gratitude for your continued support and collaboration throughout this school year. It has been a challenging period for all of us, and I am incredibly proud of how we have worked together to ensure the best possible educational experience for our students.

With summer just around the corner, I want to share some vital information and key messages as we enter this well-deserved break:

Construction: Once again, this summer, we will be occupied filling open positions, deep cleaning our buildings, and seeing our construction projects continue. The field house at the high school will continue to evolve and should be open by mid-November, and the new 5/6 building will be ready to open this coming fall. In addition, we still have major construction plans for Bauer and Park Elementary next school year.

Reflection and Celebrations: Let us reflect on our students' achievements and growth this year. On May 22, we celebrated the graduation of 478 high school seniors and the impact they left on our school system. They have performed in the classroom, on the stage, in the field, and throughout our community. I want to congratulate all our seniors for how they have represented Hudsonville Public Schools. Thank you for allowing our staff to be a part of your educational career, and we wish you all the best life has to offer for your future. These students have been resilient throughout all the challenges thrown their way, and every one of them will make our world a better place. It's important to celebrate their successes, both big and small, and acknowledge the hard work they have put into their studies. Their accomplishments are a testament to their resilience and dedication.

Rest and Rejuvenation: Summer break offers a valuable opportunity for our students to recharge their batteries, explore new interests, and spend quality time with family and friends. Please encourage them to engage in activities that nurture their overall well-being and promote a healthy balance between relaxation and exploration. While the summer break is a time for rest, it is also crucial to maintain a sense of continued learning. Please ensure your children read, explore educational programs, and engage in activities that stimulate their minds.

Ballot Proposals: Hudsonville School District Voters approved our Non-Homestead Millage and Sinking Fund. I appreciate everyone who took the time to vote. This raised over six million dollars for operational purposes to support our students. Thank you!

Communication Channels: Even during the break, our lines of communication will remain open. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact the district office. We will do our best to assist you and provide the necessary support.

Looking Ahead: While we embrace the summer break, it is natural to start looking ahead to the upcoming school year, which will begin on Monday, August 21. The school calendar for next year is posted on our website.

Again, thank you for your unwavering support, trust, and commitment to your child's education. I continue to be honored and humbled by the privilege to serve as your superintendent, and I am genuinely grateful for the partnership we have built together. I wish you and your family a safe, enjoyable, and rejuvenating summer. Thank you for making Hudsonville a fantastic place to live and grow.

Warmest regards,

Dr. VanderJagt, Superintendent

Highest Honors Graduates for the Class of 2023

HPS Instructional Coach Becomes a Published Author

During more than a decade as a middle school English teacher, Dana VanderLugt, who now works for HPS as an instructional coach, was well acquainted with giving her students writing assignments. But a few years ago, she gave herself one: to accomplish her lifelong dream of writing a novel.

While Dana had read, admired, and recommended hundreds of books written for a middle-grade audience, she had an idea of her own simmering. Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 2 Novel in Verse grew from the seed of a story passed on to her about the German POWs who picked apples during World War II in what would later become her grandfather’s orchard.

The book, which takes place during one apple season — September until November of 1944 — will be released by Zonderkidz on September 12, 2023, nearly the same day that the story begins 79 years before. It brings to light the little-known history of 400,000 German POWs shipped to the U.S. from Europe as a solution to our country’s labor shortage. Here in Michigan, 32 base camps housed German soldiers — some of whom were still teenagers — plucked out of war and in many ways, saved by being captured.

Dana’s novel tells the story of two young people struggling to survive the complex toll of war: Claire, a smart and ambitious 13-year-old, who longs to enter high school and become a nurse even as she worries for her soldier brother, and Karl, a 17-year-old German POW who’s questioning everything he was raised to believe and processing the war as he works on Claire’s family farm.

If you pick up a copy of the book, you’ll see that Dana’s Hudsonville students are among those she thanks in her Acknowledgements. She writes, “The students I was entrusted with and learned from over the years as a middle school teacher sat on my shoulder as I wrote these pages: my favorite part of teaching was match-making readers and books, and it’s an honor to have this book join the beautiful chorus of voices on classroom and library bookshelves.”

The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other online retailers.

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Park Elementary Student Raises Money for Veterans

After reading a book about veterans, fourth grader Mille felt a call to action. She knew she wanted to do something to honor the veterans in our area. Millie organized a read-a-thon for the fourth and fifth graders at Park Elementary to participate in. Students raised money two different ways. They raised money per page they read at home for a week or they sought a fixed amount donation. With Millie's leadership and the help of numerous 4th and 5th graders the West Michigan Veterans Coalition received a check for $1,419.57.

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Alward Elementary Students Trade Recess Time to Help Beloved Custodian

Matt Minervino, better known as Mr. Matt, has been the custodian at Alward Elementary for nine years. This year Mr. Matt had some extra help from a kind and generous group of fifth-grade students who decided on their own to stay in from recess to help clean up after second and fifth-grade lunch. The students volunteered every day all year by sweeping, bagging trash, and other duties. Thank you, Patrick, Graysen, Noah, Eddie, and Henry. Please enjoy these messages from our Alward Elementary Staff!

"It has been an absolute honor to have them as students here at Alward, and they will be dearly missed. Thank you, Gentlemen, for showing true pride in our school and for your selflessness." -Mr. Matt

"Thank you for going above and beyond every day. You are great role models to the younger grades. Wishing you success at 5/6 G next year." -Mrs. Visco (lunch aide)

"You are going to be a blessing at the 5/6 Building next year!" -Mrs. VanEk (lunch aide)

"Way to SOAR every day!" -Mrs. Monroe (lunch aide)

"Thanks for your leadership in the lunchroom every day and staying during your recess to help out the staff to clean up! You will be missed next year! Best wishes at the 5/6 Building!" -Mrs. Nienhuis (lunch aide)

"Thank you for leading and taking care of our school! We are very proud of the example you are setting for the other students!" -Mrs. Mucha (principal)

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Chromebook Policy

As a district we are fortunate to have a 1 to 1 Chromebook program, and we have seen many positive changes to teaching and learning over the last two and a half years. As the program evolves and we learn more about the best ways to support it, we decided that all 6th-11th grade students will keep their Chromebooks this summer. If students have any damage or malfunction in need of repair, they will turn in their devices at the end of the year. Seniors will turn their Chromebooks in before graduation.

We made this decision to encourage ongoing educational opportunities over the summer and to minimize difficulty with collecting and distributing devices. See below for more about what went into this decision and options for how you can manage / use them.

Advantages of students keeping their Chromebook:

  • Provides greater access to learning over the summer.

  • Promotes students ownership, responsibility, and care of their device.

  • Reduces the amount of time needed for the collection and distribution. No long lines at open houses and more time for instruction the first week of school.

Here are some ideas and resources for Chromebook use over the summer:

  • Parents can use our web filter management app. See this form for details and to request the app.

  • Students can access the student links page for core platforms and engagement activities we will be posting.

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Eagles United Project at Baldwin Middle

A special group of students from Baldwin Middle School used their flex time to brainstorm ideas for a project that would make all students at their school feel seen, heard, and celebrated. They decided to create a video that documented school staff members sharing with students how the students inspire them to come to work each day. This video is well worth your time so please check it out. Fire up, go Eagles!
Eagles United Video

Georgetown Elementary 3rd Grade Field Trip to DeGraaf Nature Center

The 3rd grade classes at Georgetown Elementary had an interactive experience at DeGraaf Nature Center Pioneer Days. This coordinated well with their Michigan History unit. Each class had the opportunity to make and taste cornbread. The students used tools to cut wood, and made pegs for building log cabins. This showed them how difficult it would be to make a home back in the late 1700s. They combed raw wool to make into yarn for the loom. Students also watched a presentation and were able to touch and handle artifacts.

A big thank you to DeGraaf Nature Center and their knowledgeable staff. This unique experience was made possible by funding provided by the fantastic Georgetown PTC.

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HPS Staff Member Participates in the Boston Marathon

No matter what needs to get done, Maureen Pluger laces up her shoes and is ready to run. Maureen has been a custodian at Hudsonville High School and a fill-in bus driver since 2006. She can also be found setting up or tearing down the gym during basketball season. As humble as she is busy, Maureen was reluctant to be interviewed regarding her recent marathon achievement. But she eventually agreed, indicating that she would like to raise awareness of the incredible team of custodians who work so hard to keep our facilities pristine for our students.

Although Maureen has participated in the Boston Marathon six times, this was her first year in the 60-64 age category. "So I made sure to color my hair a few days before the race," Maureen said with a wry smile. On the day of the marathon, she was bussed out forty minutes to join around 30,000 other participants who ran through eight different Boston Burroughs on their journey to the finish line. Maureen reported she always buys a new pair of running shoes the week before a race. Her favorite courses are the ones that are bike friendly, so her husband can enjoy a nice ride during her race. She began running marathons in Chicago in 1999 and has completed over 30 races. Who better to keep up with our high school students? Thank you to Maureen and all the other fabulous custodians working for Hudsonville Public Schools.

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