By Steve Robinson | May 23, 2018 - 10:06 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

In February, he announced his intentions to resign from Normal-based Unit 5 School Board due to a job transfer through his employer, State Farm Insurance. At that governing body’s meeting May 23 at district headquarters, Jim Hayek, who had been a Board member for three years, formally announced he was stepping down at the end of the evening. The Board held a closed door one-hour session, followed by the public meeting which lasted 45-minutes, followed by another closed door session.

“I’ve learned a lot from you and I just want to wish you the best,” said Board Member Taunia Leffler. Board Member Joe Cleary told Hayek he was envious because he was moving to a constantly warmer climate in Arizona.

“I’ll just always remember you for having a strategic mind and a general calmness that you brought to the table,” said Board President Barry Hitchins. “We had heated meetings over the three years here. You just always seemed calm, cool, and collected.”

“You moved us forward with our strategic plan,” Board Member Mike Trask said in beginning his tribute. Calling Hayek “a great mentor,” Trask added, “I’ve enjoyed conversations with you, and although we haven’t always agreed with each other, we’ve respected each other’s opinions.”

“Thank you for your leadership, thank you for your mentoring,” District Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel extended to Hayek. “I think I’ve learned many things from you, and I know Phoenix is going to be a better place because you and your family are going to be there.”

Hayek’s resignation becomes effective May 30. Under State law, Unit 5 will have 45 days from that date to appoint a successor. That person, after taking office, will have to formally run for the seat in the primary elections next spring.

In addition to Hayek’s departure, the Board will need a new clerk due to LaNell Greenberg, who has held the job for four years, moving on to become assistant to Nikki Maurer, associate principal at Normal Community High School. Greenberg has held numerous positions throughout the district during a14-year career with the district.

Normal Community High’s “Good News”: On May 10, the Normal Community High School’s Chapter of Best Buddies was named the Illinois Chapter of the Year by the national organization. Currently, more than 100 Best Buddies chapters in the State of Illinois. Earlier this semester, NCHS’ chapter named the Regional Chapter of the Year at the Annual Best Buddies Walk.

Best Buddies is an organization founded in 1989 with a mission to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. NCHS’ has grown over the years, with about 50 general education students and 25 students with disabilities who are paired through the program to bond at school during classroom and other weekly activities. This occurs by simply spending time together at school or out in the community. The teachers who serve as sponsors for the Best Buddies program at NCHS are Erin Sanders, Angie Cardiff, Brandy Sherrick and Amy Veselak.

NCHS assistant principal Natalie Shumaker and Addie Smith, an NCHS junior who has served as the president of the group this year, addressed Board members. “Our club has changed so many lives,” Smith told Board members. “It has changed my life, as well. We’re causing a ripple affect and we look forward to having a better year next year.”

In an emotional response to the presentation, Trask said his daughter has been “a beneficiary” of being part of the group. “I can’t tell you what its done for her.”

Parkside Elementary’s “Good News”: Team building was the goal of a program which took place in May at Parkside Elementary School. Assistant Principal Beth Goken explained Principal Ryan Weichman had team building in mind, and each day for a week earlier this month, seven teams competed in a unique team building event. Among the personal aspects of this were committing acts of kindness and showing team spirit among other challenges. Parkside students were included in many of the activities the program involved.

District’s “Good News”: Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, brought to the attention of those attending the meeting news about the Tales of English Language Learners, or TELL exhibit. This exhibit, which was created collaboratively by Illinois State University students enrolled in School of Teaching and Learning, and School of Art Graphic Design courses, features stories of English Language Learners in Bloomington-Normal schools and at ISU.

TELL displays the journeys of students through their stories, cultural traditions, challenges, and dreams for the future. The exhibit seeks to reduce misconceptions and prejudice about the faces and voices of English Language Learners, or ELLs, in our community, and aspires to raise public awareness and create positive dialogue.

Each ELL story is a combination of determination, hope, and challenges. It is more important than ever to share the stories of ELLs through which we can understand better and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.

Dr. Rabia Hos has been instrumental in forging a partnership between ISU and Unit 5 English Learners Programs.

By Steve Robinson | May 10, 2018 - 10:20 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

Members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board voted unanimously at their regularly-scheduled meeting on May 9 to approve a two-year contract with the union which represents its teaching staff. The pact with Unit Five Education Association (UFEA) members increases salaries for beginning teachers to $37,000 annually. That boosts their pay from the prior starting salary of just over $34,000, explained Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, in explaining what prompted the increase. Salaries for second year teachers will start at $37,600.

Explaining the decision to make the increase, Daniel said, “We want to be competitive. We know that with the national teacher shortage, we have to be competitive, and if we’re going to bring young educators to Unit 5 and Bloomington-Normal.”

Daniel said this increase moves where the district stands on paying teachers to “at about mid-range. We’d love to do more, but, again, we do have budget constraints.” He thanked UFEA members for what he called “one of the most amicable negotiations I’ve ever been a part of.” He said that was because both sides were “like-minded and had a common goal.”

Newly-elected UFEA President Lindsey Dickenson said the teachers’ union vote on the contract “passed with flying colors.”

Hoose Expansion To Be On Docket: At their lone meeting in July, Board members will vote to decide whether to approve construction at Colene Hoose Elementary School which would expand the space used by the school’s Behavioral Emotion Support Team, or BEST. BEST provides intensive behavioral and emotional support for students who have such difficulties. The school has sought to expand the building at its eastern end to accommodate students and concentrate services toward one end of the building.

The school would hope to put a bus lane near that end once the expansion is complete so that BEST students and teachers would have of an individual entrance and exit to serve those students’ needs, explained Hoose Principal Dr. Adam Zbrozek. Colene Hoose Elementary is Unit 5’s hub for students who have such difficulties. The program was started over 30 years ago and originally served 2nd through 5th grade students. In 2011, Kindergarten and 1st grade students were added to the program.

The BEST program has grown to need to service 30 students by the beginning of next school year without there having been any changes in the size of the original space for which it was established when the program began, Zbrozek explained.

The proposed addition for the program would be at the building’s east end and be 5,200-square-foot. That would allow the school to add a quartet of 900-square-foot classrooms and a common learning area. The current space used by the BEST program will get redesigned to provide a larger student calming room, and a sensory room which offers interactive equipment. A conference room would also be added.

A current playground area outside the east side of the building would need to be moved as a result of the expansion. The total cost of the project would be $1.2 million, $725,000 of which will come from school land dedication fees developers pay when plats are recorded by the county. The remainder would come from the district’s working cash fund.

School Bus Acquisitions Approved: As part of the Board’s omnibus agenda, the governing body approved the bus replacement cost schedule, which includes purchase of 11 new 2019 model year 42-seat vehicles at a cost of $806,761. Also as part of the group of vehicles the district will purchase are 10 77-passenger buses, either 2017 or 2018 model year, and four transit vans. In all, a total of 32 vehicles will cost Unit 5 over $2.3 million.

Another omnibus agenda item approved was a five-year agreement for the lease and purchase of additional transportation vehicles in an amount not to exceed $2,325,000 at an interest rate not to exceed 3.5 percent.

New Administrators Coming To Schools In Fall: When school resumes in August, some Unit 5 schools will have new administrators in the corner office. The announcements concerning these changes were announced during the meeting. Cari Oester, a 13-year veteran educator, will be the new principal at Glenn Elementary. She taught in Naperville for two years and eight years in the Olympia School District in Stanford before joining Unit 5 in 2015. She has been an Assistant Principal with Pepper Ridge Elementary and Cedar Ridge Elementary. This summer she will be completing her Superintendent Certificate through ISU.

At Oakdale Elementary this fall, Elizabeth Holtz will become that school’s principal after having served as assistant principal there. She has also had experience as an assistant principal at Parkside Elementary.

Leslie Davenport will become principal at Fox Creek Elementary this fall. She is currently that school’s assistant principal. She spent nine years teaching Science and Language Arts at Parkside Junior High School along with coaching girls’ basketball. Previously, she taught for two years in Chicago Public Schools and three at a private school in Hinsdale, IL.

Terry Gliege will be a new assistant principal at Normal Community West High School this fall. He’s currently teaching there. Gliege has been an educator for 14 years, 10 of those in Unit 5. He started his career in the Chicago Public Schools and has served on building and district leadership teams in Unit 5, and has worked as n Academic Assistance Program Co-coordinator, Credit Recovery Teacher, Assistant Speech Team Coach, and previously served as the JV Soccer coach at West.

Glenn Elementary’s “Good News”: Maureen Backe, principal of Glenn Elementary School, reported to Board members that The students of the 3W Unit at Glenn held an all-school talent show on the evening of April 4 to support St. Jude Children’s Hospital, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and Home Sweet Home Ministries. In total, the talent show raised over $280 for the charities, Backe reported.

The idea for the talent show began when their teacher challenged a small group of the kids to come up with an idea for a community service project in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Earlier in the year, the class read an article in their Scholastic News magazines explaining that events would be held across the country in recognition of the 50th anniversary of King’s death. The team began organizing tryouts and developing a rubric that the adult judges could use to select the talent for the show. Soon the entire class was involved planning various activities for each of the selected charity organizations. The activities the children took part in included a clothing/food/book drive which was organized for Home Sweet Home Ministries. Also, Origami and drawing lessons were planned to support PETA, and friendship bracelets were crafted to be sold in support St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Students also spent time publicizing the event by making posters and writing announcements. Members of the school’s third grade hosts for the event developed the order of the acts and wrote their own scripts. Students also made up the stage crew for the show. A total of 20 acts ranging from dancers to roller skaters to instrumentalists performed for a crowd of well over 200 people.

District’s “Good News”: Academic Cultural Technological Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) Program is a yearlong enrichment program designed to recruit, stimulate, improve and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among high school students. It was developed in 1978 to enhance and showcase the academic and artistic achievement of primarily African-American high school students by mobilizing the adult community to serve as mentors and coaches for students in the areas of the STEM, humanities, performing arts, visual arts and business.

The 8th Annual Bloomington-Normal ACT-SO “Olympics of the Mind” Competition was on Saturday, April 28 consisting of 19 students. A total of 25 medals were awarded during the awards ceremony Sunday, April 29, at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center. All medalists also receive a small scholarship. The gold medalists will travel to San Antonio, Texas, to compete in the National NAACP ACT-SO Competition on July 12 – 15 for national medals and scholarship awards. Unit 5’s gold medalists and their school and event they qualified in are: Jessica Bynum, Normal Community High School – Filmmaking (2017 National Gold Medalist – Filmmaking); Keajia “Keke” Hardin – NCHS and Bloomington Area Career Center, Culinary Arts; Alexis Starks, NCHS – Photography (2017 National Gold Medalist – Photography). Silver Medalists named are: Ambria Maddox, NCHS and BACC – Sculpture. Bronze Medalists and their category: Faith Jones, NCHS – Dramatics; and Rebekah Nielsen, Normal Community West High School and, BACC – Culinary.

Bloomington Area Career Center’s “Good News”: SkillsUSA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps each student excel. We provide educational programs, events and competitions that support career and technical education (CTE) in the nation’s classrooms.

Each year SkillsUSA Illinois heads to Springfield, IL in April for the annual State Leadership and Skills Conference (SLSC), a showcase of career and technical education students. More than 2,000 people — including students, teachers, and business partners — attended the multi-day event. At the event students compete hands-on in 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields. Students work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts.

This year’s winners from within Unit 5 include: From NCHS, Health Knowledge Bowl participants Taylor Whetsell, Chloe Wright, Jade Carlock who finished with a silver medal;·in Job Interview Skills, Chloe Wright, who earned a Silver medal; In Nurse Assisting, Elizabeth Richards who finished with a silver medal; In Job Demo, Bailey Branham, who finished with a Silver medal. From Normal Community West High School, Matthew Manzella earned a gold medal in TeamWorks competition; Kayla Jones earned a gold medal in Medical Terminology competition; and Rebekah Hagberg earned a gold medal in the Cosmetology competition.

In addition, the district’s speech language pathologists were recognized for the work they do with students at all grade levels throughout the year.

By Steve Robinson | April 26, 2018 - 10:34 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – At their regularly-scheduled meeting April 25, members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board elected officers for the next year. Barry Hitchins is the new Board president succeeding outgoing president Jim Hayek, Jr. Mike Trask is the new Board vice president, and Taunia Leffler was elected the new secretary. Hayek was not at the meeting and had announced to Board members at the governing body’s last meeting in February he would be resigning from the Board as a result of a job transfer to Phoenix, Ariz.

The new Board members were elected by acclamation.

Increased School Lunch Prices Approved: When the school year revs up again in August, parents and students, and district employees will be paying more as a result of a unanimous omnibus vote once the new officers were seated. Lunch prices will go up by five cents for both students and adults as a result of rising costs and requirements set by Federal Paid Lunch Equity rules. That would boost lunch costs to between $2.15 and $3.35. The change will not affect breakfast prices or the cost of reduced price lunches.

In addition, it will cost students more to attend sports events, with the price of a ticket going up $5, to $20. Instructional fees will not see an increase in cost this year.

Normal West High Doubles Its “Good News”: Prior to the Board elections, Board members heard a pair of “good news” reports from the district’s high schools. From Normal Community West, Associate Principal Angie Codron introduced Board members to teacher Dave Weber who was awarded a $1,000 grant which he will use to purchase additional sensors and “Go Links” which students can use in Psychics classes to conduct inquiry-based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM investigations centering on acceleration and friction.

Weber will also use the funds to upgrade a 3D printer he has been using in class. Students belonging to the school’s STEM Club have been designing a variety of objects science teachers need to replace equipment which has been misplaced or worn out.

Codron also introduced Board members to senior Andrea Irving who has won a $1,000 scholarship as one of two Outstanding STEM students in McLean County for 2018. Irving is active in the Normal West group “Girls Who Code” is a national non-profit group dedicated to helping increase and support the number of women who enter the computer science field.

Normal Community High And Normal West High Team Up For “Good News”: Normal Community West and Normal Community High School joined forces for the other item of good news as Codron and NCHS associate principal Nikki Maurer introduced Board members two top finalists, one from each school, from the 2017-2018 Celebrating High School Innovators (CHSI) competition which was held on Illinois State University’s campus on April 7 and 8. This year’s event was the third annual event which recognized ninth through 12th grade students who were eligible to apply in five areas including Arts, Media and Literature, Technology, Engineering and Math, and Health and Nutrition.

The team of Becca Nally from Normal West and Lexi Showalter from NCHS were selected as one of the competition’s five finalists for their project which involved using smart phones for communication. The pair were awarded $1,000 as well as a scholarship.

Standards-Based Grading Discussed: Carmen Bergmann, director of elementary education, and Laura O’Donnell, director of secondary education for the district, presented information to Board members concerning an update concerning how the district will assess grading students beginning over the next two school years. Unit 5 is going to introduce a concept called Standards Based Grading (SBG) to all grade levels over the next two years, the pair explained. They said a partial rollout of SBG took place during this school year with nearly 90 percent of teachers using the method. They said a full rollout of SBG will begin at all elementary grade levels next school year.

At the middle school level, Bergmann and O’Donnell explained, students have a hand in their education from the standpoint of being able to talk to their teachers about and learn about the education process. At the high school level, they explained, characteristics for learning, such as showing respect, being part of a collaborative effort, and showing responsibility are separate matters apart graded on their own merits in addition to grading the finished work for each student.

Chemical Spraying Near Fox Creek Elementary Alarms Parents: Parents of one Fox Creek student in south Bloomington addressed Board members concerned about nearby farmers having recently sprayed chemicals on farmland near the school at a time when students were playing on the school playground. The parent indicated school officials were told by the farmer the herbicide was not harmful, but Board members told the parents the matter would be investigated.

May 9 Meeting To Be At Hoose Elementary: The Board’s next meeting on Wednesday, May 9 will be held at Colene Hoose Elementary School starting at 7p.m.

NORMAL – Last month, during the only regular meeting held, members of Normal-based Unit 5 School District’s Board, four students asked the Board to consider changing the name of the holiday held every second Monday in October from Columbus Day to “Indigenous People’s Day.” That triggered a request from Board Member David W. Fortner to ask the district to have a resolution making the change in the name ready for a vote at the Board’s next meeting April 11. At the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting at district headquarters, Board members heard the results of the research the matter produced. Members of the district administration will report back to the students who made the request.

Curt Richardson, attorney for Unit 5, explained to Board members that after having researched State school code, a change in the name of the day is permissible. He also said State school code also allows for days to be designated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The State’s General Assembly has already designated the last Monday in September to be honored as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, he explained. He added the district has no specific curriculum for Columbus Day.

Ray Epperson, deputy superintendent, contributed to the presentation, explaining students in fourth and sixth grades and at the high schools, for example, receive some instruction concerning how the country was discovered, but it’s the older students who learn about Indigenous Peoples.

Board Member Mike Trask asked if there were options the group recommended. The third member of the research team, Dayna Brown, director of communication and community relations for the district, told Board members she wants to go back to the students who made the original request and present what the Board members decide on the matter.

If after hearing from Brown about the discussion at the meeting and they still aren’t satisfied, Board Member Barry Hitchins suggested, the students who brought this to the Board’s attention should take it up with State legislators. He named State Sen. Dan Brady and State Sen. Jason Barickman as two who the kids could take their case to.

Board Member David W. Fortner asked the trio what penalty would the district face should it decide, for example, to opt to say no to honoring Columbus Day. Richardson said doing that would put the district’s recognition as a school district by the State in jeopardy. Trask added that the discussion sounded like the district was talking about going against State school code, and that was something he objected to.

Board Member Meta Mickens-Baker said she wasn’t comfortable with providing another day away from school for this.

“We can’t fight legislators over Columbus Day,” Board Member Joe Cleary said. “We’re already fighting with them over funding.” He said he thought a “commemorative” day could be an alternative to what was being considered. The Board anticipates voting on the matter at a future meeting.

Transportation Update: Board members received a brief report from officials representing the bus company which provides student transportation for the district, Cincinnati, Ohio-based First Student Bus Co., including location manager Mark Bohl. The district has worked with the company to begin a customer liaison program which will keep watch for customer issues and work to improve accuracy of bus service. Bohl told Board members First Student has managed to improve their service over the past year.

Last Day Of School Set: As part of their omnibus agenda, Board members unanimously approved that Wednesday, May 23 will be the last day of school for students in the 2017-18 school year.

New Bus Purchases Approved: Board members unanimously approved a purchase of two 34-passenger buses at a cost of $64,521 each. The buses are both equipped with wheelchair lifts and were purchased using money left over from $7 million in working cash bonds Board members have approved over the last two years.

Hayek Departing Soon: At the next Board meeting, Board President Jim Hayek, Jr. will not be present. At that meeting, slated for April 25 meeting, new officers – President, Vice President, and Secretary – will be selected. Hayek said he has not set a resignation date. A job transfer to Phoenix, Ariz. announced at the only meeting the Board had last month is the reason for his resignation. Under State law, the Board will have 45 days from the date the resignation takes effect to appoint a successor. Also, that person would have to run for election the spring of the next election cycle.

By Steve Robinson | March 15, 2018 - 12:00 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Members of Normal-based Unit 5 School District unanimously approved the forthcoming school year calendar at the governing body’s scheduled meeting March 11, held at Chiddix Junior High School. But just because the calendar got an official blessing with that vote doesn’t mean at least one holiday marked on the calendar won’t get its named changed if Board members themselves grant the change.

During the public comment section of the meeting, four students asked the district board to consider changing the name of the holiday held every second Monday in October from Columbus Day to “Indigenous People’s Day.” That triggered a request from Board Member David W. Fortner to ask the district to have a resolution making the change in the name ready for a vote at the Board’s next meeting April 11.

During a discussion on the matter, Curt Richardson, the district’s attorney, told Fortner State school code allows different options on certain holidays like Columbus Day ad Veterans’ Day. Board Member Barry Hitchins said some calendar adjustments have been made even after the school calendar for the upcoming school year has been approved.

The Board did approve the calendar as part of its omnibus agenda, while the district researches making the change. Board President Jim Hayek, Jr. recommended, as part of that research, bringing the subject before the district’s Citizens Advisory Council. District Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel added the Board will, as part of that research check with the Illinois State Board of Education to see if such a proposed change is possible.

Daniel Comments On National Student Walkout At NCHS: On the same day as this meeting, a month to the day of the shooting deaths of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students at Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School and 300 students at Kingsley Junior High School participated in National School Walkout Day which began at 10a.m. and lasted 17 minutes – one minute for each of the 17 lives lost at the Florida school on Valentine’s Day. Daniel spoke to reporters after the meeting about what he witnessed observing the rally that took place at Normal Community High School.

When speakers spoke to their fellow students at the event he attended, Daniel said, there was “silence.” He added the rally was “very peaceful but very poignant, very meaningful.” Another similar event, “Rally For Our Lives,” is slated to take place Saturday, March 24 at the Courthouse square in Downtown Bloomington starting at 11a.m.

Multiple Life Safety Projects Approved: Board members unanimously approved work to begin on 10 Life Safety projects at a number of district schools. Springfield-based Henson-Robinson Co. submitted a base bid of $147,117 for a reroofing project at Glenn Elementary School. The section of the school that will be worked on was originally constructed in 1967. At Grove Elementary, workers from Peoria-based O’Brien Brothers will be working to replace a chiller and related equipment after submitting a winning base bid of $113,870.

At Hudson Elementary, after their bid of $96,700 was approved by Board members, Mt. Zion, Ill.-based Top Quality Roofing Co. will be handling a reroofing project on that school’s 1954 building addition. At Towanda Elementary, a contract has been awarded to low bidder

At Pepper Ridge Elementary, Peoria-based Bishop Brothers, Inc. submitted a winning bid of $143,000 for the contract with the district to replace exterior doors. The district also accepted a bid of $464,700 from Chenoa-based Union Roofing Co., Inc. to do a reroofing project. The district also accepted a bid from Union Roofing of $306,970 for a reroofing assignment at Towanda Elementary.

Board members also approved a pair of work assignment bids each at two separate schools. Board members approved a reroofing project on the 1967 building addition at Oakdale Elementary, awarding it to Henson-Robinson which submitted a low base bid of $153,980. In addition, Board members approved two alternate bids to the company, as well: The first for $20,470 for additional drainage control at the north end of the building, and for $5,350 for additional work to provide safer access to the roof for maintenance on the roof above the school kitchen.

Two projects at Normal Community West High School were approved to round out the work approved. First, Board members approved a contract to McLean County Asphalt Co. for the base bid amount of $338,233.04 for resurfacing of the school’s tennis court. Board members also approved three alternate bids work bids to the company. The first was for $5,713 for additional work to repair and repave the west edge of loop drive along the tennis courts; the second was alternative work bid was for $19,154 for additional work to provide new posts and fence fabric; and the third bid, in the amount of $8,274.72 for additional work to replace fence fabric using existing postings at the north, west, and south sides of the courts.

Evans Jr. High And Chiddix Jr. High School’s “Good News” From State Chess: Two of Unit 5’s junior high schools appear to have some real pros when it comes to the game of chess – at least that appears to be the message the principals of George L. Evans Junior High School and Chiddix Junior High School is trying to get across in the their “good news” reports to Board members.

February 23 and 24, the team traveled to Peoria to compete in the IESA State Chess Tournament. EJHS’ 6th grade team came in first place and had the state record for points and the individual overall state champion. Competitors play seven games where, at the end of the day, if they win all their games, a player earns seven points. EJHS’ 8th grade team earned a 3rd place trophy for their efforts. Along with our team winnings, there were several personal accomplishments as well.

EJHS’ 6th Grade Team members are: Rahul Bammidi, Shlok Kinikar, Anish Deshpande, Likith Kancharlapalli, Nathan Lee, Rishith Vanguru, and James Douglas. Eighth Grade Team members are: Sujay Prakash, Marcus Lee, Lalit Kudikala, Umika Kuricheti, Yatin Gupta, Yashu Singhai, and Rishi Badhari. The team’s coach is Jill Burroughs

Jim Allen, principal of Chiddix Junior High School, introduced the Board to members of the school’s Chess team who made a good showing at the Illinois Elementary School Association State Chess Tournament. CJHS’ team placed among top ten finishers, placing 3rd with 25 points, wedged between top team George L. Evans Junior High School which tallied 31 points and 3rd place finisher Parkside Junior High School which registered a 24.5 point finish.

Having played on seven boards during the tourney, a number of CJHS students did well enough to be recognized for their efforts. Team members John Burras, Adtiya Chalasani, Moksha Dave, Andrew Spies, and Syed Zain Zaidi all registered scores of 5.0 out of 7 points possible. The school’s 7th grade team took first place overall defending their title from last year, while CJHS’ 6th grade team placed 2nd overall, earning a medal.

Kingsley Jr. High School’s “Good News” From State Volleyball: Kingsley Junior High School also earned State honors for Volleyball, as principal Shelley Erickson told Board members. KJHS ‘7th grade 4A Lady Cavaliers ended their regular season with a fantastic 26-2 record and a State Championship. They got to the top first by beating Macomb Junior High School 25-19 and 29-27 in the opening round to advance to the semifinals.

In the semifinals, the Lady Cavs bested Homer Glen Homer in three games, 26-24, 21-25 and 25-23. After battling to get to the championship match, CJHS disposed of Manteno in two quick games, 25-6 and 25-8, to bring home a State title.

The 7th grade volleyball team is coached by Maxine Quakenbush, along with Liz Heideman and Kerry Myers. Team members are: Sophia Feeney, Delaney Hammons, Jocelyn Gale, Alyssa Brown, Ella Lloyd, Jaycee Adams, Morgan Bunn, Ashley Wilcox, Jeeya Patel, Anna Dunne, Kate Poehlman, Morgan Sutter, Lizzy Horton and Katelyn Wilson.

Normal Community High School’s “Good News”: Trevor Chapman, principal of Normal Community High School, introduced Board members to four students who participated in a competition call the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge which took place on March 2.

The four students — Sudesh Sahu, Krithik Rao, Yuktesh Kalidindi, and Annika Hiredesai — competed in this annual Internet-based applied math competition which awards $100,000 in scholarship prizes ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 to teams of high school juniors and seniors.

The Challenge helps to spotlight applied math as a powerful problem-solving tool and helps students see its value and importance. During the competition, students work in teams of 3-5 to solve an open-ended, realistic, math-modeling problem with a 14 hour deadline.

This year’s assignment for the students was to create a mathematical model that a state could use to determine if it could feed its food-insecure population using the wasted food generated in the state. Their goal was to create a mathematical model to address the opportunities associated with repurposing potentially wasted food. They had to apply their model given some parameters from the State of Texas. Additionally, the teams had to come up with a plan to repurpose wasted food both in their community and in their school.

The end product was a 25 page proposal, complete with their solution, which was due at the conclusion of the 14 hour time allotment.

New Administrator, New NCHS Head Football Coach Introduced: A new administrator for the district and the new football coach at Normal Community High School were introduced to the audience by Daniel during the meeting. Maureen Backe was introduced as the new director of elementary education, succeeding Carmen Bergmann. The audience of about 40 people were also introduced to Jason Drengwitz, the new football coach at Normal Community High School. Drengwitz succeeds Wes Temples who resigned in December.

Next Meeting Set For April 11: Unit 5 Schools will be on spring break the week of March 26-30, so there will be no Board meeting March 28. The next scheduled Board meeting will be Wednesday, April 11 at district headquarters beginning at 7p.m.