Inaugural Hudsonville Education Foundation Gala inducts Distinguished Alumni with one surprise induction

HUDSONVILLE, MI—OCTOBER 11, 2017—The Hudsonville Education Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization funding academic initiatives throughout the Hudsonville Public School district, hosted its inaugural Eagles of Excellence Gala on October 10, 2017, inducting six Distinguished Alumni into the Academic Hall of Fame and honoring over 35 students for their accomplishments in the classroom. Unbeknownst to attendees, the Hudsonville Education Foundation board had kept the induction of one of the Distinguished Alumni a secret to be unveiled that Tuesday night.

The Distinguished Alumni inducted into the Academic Hall of Fame were recognized for their contributions to the Hudsonville community and school districts, career accomplishments, or dedication to the cultural and performing arts. The inaugural inductees included Esther Luttikhuizen (Cultural/Performing Inductee), Dr. Marvin Overway (Honorary Achievement/Contribution to the Hudsonville Public Schools/Community Inductee), Dr. Harrison Visscher (Career Accomplishment Award), Dr. Robert Visscher (Career Accomplishment Award), Marcia Wierda (Service to the Hudsonville Public Schools/Community), and one surprise inductee. Retired Hudsonville High School science teacher and Hudsonville Education Foundation board member, David Bolhuis, was recognized at the gala for his contributions to the Hudsonville Public Schools district and to the Hudsonville community. To keep his induction a secret, the Hudsonville Education Foundation (HEF) board did not list Bolhuis in the gala’s program and kept his honorary plaque hidden until the announcement was made at the end of the evening. When called on stage, Bolhuis was nothing short of stunned.

“We were so thrilled to be honoring these incredible alumni and their accomplishments alongside their friends and family,” said Drew Ysselydyke, president of the HEF board. “They truly represent the potential of the students we honored. The skies the limit. The icing on the cake for the board was also being able to honor one of our own who has given so much to Hudsonville. Seeing his reaction when I called his name was everything we’d all hoped for. It doesn’t get better than that.”

The gala hosted nearly 270 attendees, which included the Distinguished Alumni and their guests, sponsors, and students from the middle schools and high schools who were accompanied by their parents and a teacher of their choosing.

“We wanted to make this night a way to not only celebrate the students but also to shine a spotlight on our district’s educators,” said Deb Watson, HEF board member and gala chair. “We gave students the opportunity to bring whatever teacher they wanted to this event, which lets teachers know that students are picking them because they’ve made an impression. It’s another way to show them how much they mean to these kids.”

Sponsors for the gala included Coldbrook Insurance Group, GMB Architecture and Engineering, Miller Johnson, Triangle Associates, Western Michigan Fleet Parts, Action Watersports, Gemmen’s Home & Hardware, Old National Bank, and FPC. Addition contributions of food, space, and prizes were gifted from DJ’s Pizza Pub, Rush Creek Bistro, and Messenger Printing. Proceeds from the gala and sponsors’ donations will be used to support HEF’s continued provision of grants to teachers throughout the Hudsonville Public Schools district to supplement students’ curriculum.

Find more information about supporting HEF, the newly inducted Distinguished Alumni, the mission of the Hudsonville Education Foundation, and past grant recipients at

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