NORMAL – There were seven “good news” items presented by representatives of three Unit 5 Schools for district School Board members to learn about Wednesday night when the governing body held their regularly scheduled meeting in the cafeteria of Normal Community West High School.

Five of those items came from one school alone – Kingsley Junior High School, highlighting sports accomplishments, a total school effort to raise funds to fight a disease, as well as passing along some kindness in the process.

KJHS 8th Grade Volleyball Wins State Title: KJHS’ volleyball team, and their coaches, earned the title of Illinois Elementary School Association 4A State Champions, defeating Champaign Edison Junior High School, 25-23 and 25-22, Board members were informed by KJHS Principal Stacie France. In the process of doing that, France explained, the girls on this team, in effect, repeated at champions two years running having won the 7-4A title last year.

France said the girls on this team have been winning for a while, having registered a record of 51-2 since beginning playing together in 6th grade. The volleyball team is coached by Liz Heideman, along with Maxine Quakenbush. The coaches are assisted by Kerry Myers and Christine Konopasek. Team members are: Jaycee Adams, Alyssa Brown, Morgan Bunn, Anna Dunne, Sophia Feeney, Joselyn Gale, Delaney Hammons, Jenna Heaser, Elizabeth Horton, Ella Lloyd, Jeeya Patel, Kaitlyn Poehlman, Morgan Sutter, Ashley Wilcox and Katelyn Wilson.

KJHS Student Froylan Racey Wrestles His Way To The Top At State: KJHS student Froylan Racey was recognized by France before the Board as the IESA AA State Champion in the 100-pound weight class in Wrestling at State Competition. Racey went 40-2 on the season, winning the Regional and Sectional titles on his way to winning the State title. KJHS’ Wrestling team is coached by Chris Racey along with Chris Merrill.

“Mission For Max” Continues, Gets Recognized: In another “good news” report from her school, France introduced Board members to KJHS teacher Jessie Lynch, and sixth grader Madelynne Chapman, and eighth grader Tyler Chapman. Madelynne and Tyler, brother and sister, like a number of their family members are engaged in helping their cousin, Max Chapman, through “Mission For Max.” Max, is a Parkside Elementary student, and the Chapmans’ cousin. Mission for Max was created by middle school students in hopes of generating awareness of, and raising funds for fighting Peroxisome Biogenesis Disorder (PBD), a rare genetic disorder Max is afflicted with.

When Madelynne approached Kingsley administrators about if there could be a fundraiser to help fight the disorder, she noted that she and her brother had met with Chiddix Junior High School organizers of Mission for Max and had a well-developed plan to bring Mission for Max to Kingsley. The brother-sister duo have a cousin who attends CJHS who had organized fundraising effort there. The cousin, Carson Damery, an eighth grade student at Chiddix Junior High School, has been organizing fundraisers at that school, as well.

As part of their plan, Tyler and Madelynne presented to one classroom at a time to Kingsley’s 846 Cavaliers, wrote morning announcements, and created posters to promote PBD. Awareness, and organized peers to collect donations. Through a week’s worth of fundraising efforts March 11-15 at KJHS, the Chapman siblings and their friends and other students and school staff raised a total of $2,062.30.

KJHS’ NIOT Club Passes Kindness Along: France introduced Board members to news concerning KJHS’ Not In Our School (NIOS) Club, led by teachers Jennifer Ritchason and Courtney Knowles, is a small group of students who have been trying to bring a positive impact to the school’s culture. NIOS students developed an idea for hosting Kingsley’s first ever Kindness Week. Their goal on this event was that every student would spread and receive kindness from one other. As part of Kindness Week, NIOS students organized many activities and opportunities for middle schoolers to support one another through kind acts.

In addition during that week, NIOS students wrote over 1,000 positive affirmation post-it notes placing the notes throughout the building, especially on a large poster in the main hallway. Any KJHS student needing a word of encouragement could take a post-it note of their choice. NIOS members are: Carmella Anderson, Mackenzie Engel, Amaya Hursey, Lydia McIntyre, Jersey Miles, Aayushi Patel, Shachi Sharad, Gavin Warner, Kamyra Williams, Violet Jasker, Dylan Millburg and Zinnia Tobin.

KJHS’ Dawn O’Dell Receives Recognition: KJHS’ physical education teacher Dawn O’Dell received public recognition for the job she does at the school, as well. O’Dell provided Unit 5 administrative personnel with information regarding legislation, federal guidelines and successful models for share food systems in schools. Through her informing various district personnel, the district has made changes which support the support of Unit 5 Food Service staff. Among those was the district Board’s adoption of a policy regarding share food programs in Unit 5 schools. As a result, students across the district have access to food which would have been discarded previously.

In addition, earlier this year, O’Dell created what the school calls “the Cavalier Hygiene Closet” stocked with shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, body soap and like items for students in need. This was created, France explained, because middle school students who lack basic hygiene necessities are less likely to attend school and face struggles with peer relationships. France said by creating and providing the Cavalier Hygiene Closet, O’Dell removed barriers to learning for students with the greatest need.

Benjamin Elementary’s “Good News”: Marlys Bennington, principal of Benjamin Elementary School addressed Board members, explaining that recently, the Illinois Music Educators Association (ILMEA) created an All-State Elementary Choir experience for students in 5th and 6th grade. This year, 5th grade students at Benjamin Elementary School who were involved in the chorus program were able to audition and be nominated. Fourteen Benjamin Elementary students auditioned, were nominated and out of that group, six of them were chosen by the State to be a part of the All-State Boys and Girls Elementary All-State Choirs this year.

The students then attended rehearsals after school and prepared music at home to be ready for their concert held Jan. 26 at the Illinois Music Educators Conference with students from around the State, Bennington explained. Special conductors were brought in to work with the students and they attended a rehearsal with the guest conductors in the morning, and then performed a concert together at the Illinois Music Educators Conference in Peoria.

Each group prepared three pieces, and then they performed one piece together as an ensemble. The students recognized for their participation in this experience are: Victor Fernandes, Aubrey Kalitzky, Krishi Kandury, Rylee Larson, Miguel Sanchez-Riggs, and Emerson Winn. Their music teacher from Benjamin Elementary was Lauren Romero.

Glenn Elementary’s “Good News”: Cari Oester, principal at Glenn Elementary School, reported to Board members that on February 21, the school’s Title Reading teacher, Ashley Defreese, faculty and local residents banded together to help with a recent event. Oester explained that “Literacy Across The Continents” brought in over 230 individuals. She further explained parents and students could travel from continent to continent (classroom to classroom) collecting stamps on their passports.

Some continents, Oester added, had parent support in the way of reading books, sharing knowledge of their native countries, or explaining artifacts. Continents also had literacy scavenger hunts and SMART board safaris. At a few of the continents, there were chances to make a craft or write a recipe or take a shot at hockey.

In addition, there were native dances took place in the gym. Normal Public Library staffers brought in virtual reality viewers and took the families on a trip of the Seven Wonders of the world, Oester wrote in a report to Board members. There was also a free food market available to individuals that wanted to take home treats.

“Good News” About School Resource Officers: In the final “good news” report of the evening, Curt Richardson, attorney for the district, made sure school resource officers, local police officers assigned to the schools, received public recognition for the work they do with kids on a daily basis. “Over the last few years, there have been many efforts in our state to reduce or eliminate the presence of law enforcement within schools to eliminate the ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” Richardson told Board members. “However well-intentioned some of those efforts may be, it is our experience and firm belief that the presence of police officers within Unit 5 schools has not only made our schools safer, but has had the opposite effect of a ‘school to prison’ pipeline, instead promoting a ‘school to college or career’ pipeline.”

Richardson then introduced the officers to Board members. The officers, police departments, and (schools where they serve as Resource Officers at) are: Jeremy Flood, Normal Police (Normal Community High School); Curtis Payne, NPD (Normal Community West High School); Annie Frey, NPD (Parkside Junior High School, Chiddix Junior High School, KJHS); and Shad Wagehoft, Bloomington Police (George L. Evans Junior High School).

Citizens Advisory Council Recap Presented: Board members heard from Dayna Brown, Director of Communications and Community Relations for the district, with a review of topics studied by the district’s Citizens Advisory Council during this school year. Among the subjects discussed this year, Brown told Board members, were: Food service, Finance, and what subjects students learn beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. Brown said weather during the school year kept CAC members meeting the scheduled six times this year, having to cancel two sessions. As an interesting side note, Brown reminded that all of the current Board members had previously been CAC members.

Project Bid Winners Announced: With Randall Middleton from the architectural firm of Middleton Associates, Inc. present, bid winners for a trio of projects the district was needing to complete this year were announced. A resurfacing project at Parkside Junior High School was awarded to H. J. Eppel and Company, Inc. That firm was one of two firms to bid on the project submitting a winning bid of $194,980. Joe Adelman, operations manager for the district, told Board members this project would be the first on behalf of the district for the Pontiac, Ill.-based firm.

The assignment of installing a geothermal bore field at Kingsley Junior High School went to Goodfield, Ill.-based TCI Geothermal which submitted a low bid of $419,000. Only two companies submitted bids for this project, Adelman told Board members.

The assignment of replacing a remote terminal unit (RTU) in the HVAC system at KJHS went to Springfield-based Henson-Robinson Co. for their bid of $384,827. Henson-Robinson Co. was among four firms which submitted bids for this project.

Harden Resignation Draws Questions: Three members of the public addressed Board members sought answers concerning the recent resignation of Dr. James Harden, the district’s former Executive Director of Human Resources and Student Services. Recent published reports indicated Unit 5 Board members approved a separation agreement with Harden in March. Since then, claims of harassment have been reported related to the resignation. Because this involves a personnel matter, district administrators and Board members have given no comment to the media.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 11th, 2019 at 10:45 pm and is filed under The Normalite, Unit 5. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.