Black River Public School (Holland, Michigan)
||This article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. (January 2013)|
|Black River Public School|
"Preparing students for college and life."
|491 Columbia Avenue Holland, MI 49423
Green and Black
Black River Public School was founded on July 1996 after receiving a charter from Grand Valley State University. Its operations initially took place in the Federal School building on 8th street and during its four years there, added 14 portables due to the limited area of the building. The Board of Trustees decided a relocation was necessary and began to search for a new complex. BASF Corporation donated a 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) facility, originally occupied by the Holland Furnace Company, to the school in 1998.
For the 2001 school year, Black River added a Montessori elementary program.
In May 2003, Black River was accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE) and in 2004, was accredited by the North Central Association Commission of Accreditation and School Improvement.
Black River Public School, also known as Black River or BRPS, currently resides in 491 Columbia Avenue with students from grades K-12. The head of school is Shannon Brunink, who followed David Angerer and the original head of school, Dr. K. Don "Jake" Jacobusse. As a result of its limited student population, Black River aims to serve the students more efficiently through smaller class sizes, typically fewer than 20 students. Additionally, parents of Black River students and alumni play an active role in the school's direction. In fact, the majority of the Board of Trustees are parents. A couple of parents are also teachers. The Parent Organization was promptly created for parents and other volunteers to address concerns from other parents and improve the quality of the school.
In the summer of 2003, Black River added two new 8 and 6 room modular buildings just outside the main building to accommodate more elementary students.
In the spring of 2007 Black River completed construction of a new 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) facility housing a gymnasium, lyceum (cafeteria), and music facilities. Previously existing facilities were remodeled to provide additional classroom space.
In the fall of 2011 remodeling was completed on a former storage/loading dock facility to house the kindergarten program following its transition to an all-day schedule. Black River has been lauded by the Michigan Montessori Society for the beauty and function of its kindergarten facility.
Black River Public School has been the home for many gifted students. A May, 2006, list published by the Washington Post ranked the school #55 nationally and #2 in the state of Michigan on a challenge index measuring advanced coursework. In May, 2007, Newsweek again ranked the school #2 in Michigan on its listing of the nation's top schools. In 2011, The Washington Post High School Challenge ranked Black River the #1 high school in the State of Michigan.
The Montessori program for elementary students has been successful since its inclusion into Black River. Black River initially only served grades 4 and 5, but expanded to include all standard elementary levels because of the aforementioned success.
Black River offers 18 Advanced Placement (AP) courses, boasting a participation rate that ranks in the top 1% in North America. Approximately 50% of the students who take an AP course achieve a score necessary to receive college credit, compared to the Michigan average of 11%. The high school gives higher numerical grades for these AP courses. These grades are based on a 5 point grade system, as opposed to the standard 4 point system.
Black River was the first Holland-area school to incorporate Spanish at the elementary level.
In 2002 elementary teacher Fran Olesen was chosen Charter School Teacher of the Year. In 2003, then current Head of School David Angerer was chosen as Charter Administrator of the Year by charter school leaders in Michigan and was the third charter school to receive the Michigan Association of Public School Academies' Summit Award for innovation in learning. In 2003 Marguerite Stephens was chosen as the Middle School Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Council for the Social Studies. In 2005 Marguerite Stephens was awarded a Japan Fulbright award. In 2010 mathematics instructor Nathan Meyer was chosen as a Class Nobel Educator of Distinction for the 2010- 2011 school year. In 2011 art teacher Peter Middleton received the Charter School Teacher of the Year award.
Black River has higher graduation requirements than most American public schools.
Black River requires:
- 4 years of English
- 3 years of Math (4 years for the class of 2011 and beyond)
- 3 years of Science (must include Biology)
- 3 years of History (must include Government)
- 2 years of a Foreign Language, 3rd year Proficiency in Spanish
- 2 years of an Art course (Orchestra,Theatre, Choir, Band, Visual Art, Dance)
- 1 year Physical Education (or 3 seasons of a sport)
- 1 semester of Typing or Demonstrate 30 WPM accurate typing speed plus basic Word-processing Skills
In addition to these, Black River has three graduation requirements not typically seen in public schools.
Seniors must complete a Senior Project, approved by their adviser, on a topic of interest. Senior Project ideas and topics are left to each student.
Black River requires community service as a graduation requirement for elementary, middle, and high school (See below).
On May 9, 2007, Black River's school board voted to require admittance to a four year college or university in order for its students to graduate. The school is implementing this policy, starting for the class of 2011, the incoming freshmen in 2007. To ensure students get into college, the school runs a college readiness camp for freshman and organizes college trips for upperclassmen. The school hopes this requirement will place college admission into the reach students otherwise not able to attend, but the decision to require college admittance was controversial. 100% of seniors from 2011 and 2012 were successful in meeting this requirement, with no student failing to graduate because of the policy.
Black River puts a strong emphasis on helping the community by advising students to help around the community. A student is required to complete a certain amount of community service hours, depending on the grade level. Grades 1-3 are expected to complete 10 hours of community service before moving on, grades 4-5 are expected to complete 15 hours, and grades 6-8 are expected to complete 20 hours. The high school requirement is 60 hours. Students have volunteered for various organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club, the Red Cross, the Humane Society, the local hospital, and Herrick District Library. No more than 20 hours can be counted for any one activity, encouraging a wide range of volunteer activities.
At any time, two students from Black River are serving on the Youth Advisory Council of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area[dead link]. This student board awards grants to community projects which impact minors. Previous examples of funded projects include building a downtown skate park, supporting numerous summer camps, and the occasional film festival. The council annually awards between $30,000 and $100,000 in student directed grants.
As part of their hands-on approach to learning, Black River offers a Project Term. Essentially, Black River sets aside a month for Project Term at the end of the school year, after examinations are complete, usually in May. Teachers are involved in one or more projects in which they put the students' knowledge and imagination to practice, expand their creativity and provide a rich and lasting experience. Students sign up in advance for a combination of one, two, or four week courses for the month-long period. Every year, new projects are decided upon, while some popular ones remain available. Examples of these projects include field trips to various places around the world, collaborative art installations, hiking and cycling trips, and rock climbing. Other projects include a mathematical analysis of poker, classic cinema, learning to play the guitar and community service projects in the local area. It is up to the student, with advice from parents and fellow peers, to choose the projects in which they are most interested. Grades for Project Term courses are assessed with a grade of Honors, Pass or Fail. These grades are not computed into the student's grade point average (GPA).
In addition, a student is free to pursue an independent study project. The request must be approved by the school and requires a supervisor to oversee the activity.
Black River is a member of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) and is a Class 'C' program. Additionally, they are a member of the Alliance League. The school's nickname is the Rats and their colors are black and green. Black River's athletic programs include, but are not limited to, soccer, basketball, baseball, cross-country, and volleyball. The school has no plans to add a football team. It's not uncommon for a full-time teacher to coach a school sport. The campus includes a soccer field directly behind the building, the home of 2008,2009,and 2010 Girls Varsity soccer Alliance League Champions and also home to the 2009 Boys Varsity Soccer Alliance league champions, the first boys soccer conference champions in school history. A public funding campaign was successfully completed to raise money to construct a new building housing a gymnasium, lunch area and music facilities. The new building was completed and put into use in March 2007.
Graduates are required to have taken two years of music or art, and so approximately two-thirds of students are enrolled in the music program, which features bands, jazz bands, orchestras, a chamber orchestra, and choirs. Recently the top band was divided into Concert and Symphonic bands and the top orchestra was divided into Concert and Advanced. Both the band and orchestra have earned top marks from the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA). The Black River Advanced Orchestra also performed at the Michigan Music Conference on January 26, 2007. They were the only orchestra chosen to perform at the conference. The new building also includes additional practice and rehearsal space with the large and small ensemble rooms. The large being used for band and the small being used for choir and orchestra. The building was dedicated on April 30, 2007.
- "Black River Public School Mission". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
- "Black River Public School". Michigan Education Report. 2006-11-21. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- Barton Deiters (1998-09-15). "Black River School gets a new home". Holland Sentinel. Retrieved 2008-01-17.[dead link]
- Institution Summary, AdvancED, Retrieved 2012-07-08
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- "NCA CASI Accredited Schools (Michigan)". 2007-05-22. Archived from the original on 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- "Jay Mathews's Challenge Index". Washington Post. 2005-05-23. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- "NEWSWEEK COVER: America's Best High Schools, 2006". 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2007-05-22.[dead link]
- "School's Montessori program a hit with parents, students". Holland Sentinel. 2005-05-03. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- "Just a click away". Holland Sentinel. 2005-04-12. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
- "Districts expand Spanish study, despite dwindling budgets". 2005-07-05. Retrieved 2007-05-22.[dead link]
- "Head of the class". Holland Sentinel. 2003-11-03. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-22.