NORMAL – On the field, Chiddix Junior High School’s 8th grade Baseball team may have finished second at Illinois Elementary School Association State Tournament earlier this month, but appeared to hit it out of the park with how they carried themselves throughout the tourney away from the diamond. That was the message CJHS Associate Principal Wendy Davis had as she introduced the team members to Normal-based Unit 5 School Board members at the Board’s regularly-scheduled meeting Oct. 24. The meeting was held in the cafeteria of Normal Community West High School.

CJHS’ team was recognized by Board members for having placed 2nd in the Class 3A State Championship game on October 7, dropping a 3-2 decision to defending champion Edwardsville Liberty Junior High School. Davis introduced team members to the Board. The last game result gave CJHS a final record of 18 wins and 3 losses on the season. But the team had to wait through two days of rain delays to get to their big moment, Davis said. The team defeated Pekin Edison and Shorewood Troy junior highs to get their championship shot.

Davis began by praising her administrative assistant, Sandy Kohlhase, for her efforts in trying to get scheduling, arranging of team and fan buses, and handling the organizational matter involved with the team this season.

This team was only the second team in the last 50 years to reach getting to being runner up at State, Davis added. “That makes this team the highest-placing team that we know of in IESA. It’s a very, very big accomplishment.”

Davis gave praise to players’ parents and siblings, too. She explained there were quite a few posts on Facebook by parents keeping fans updated.

Davis also had praise for the team, saying, “This is a group of young gentlemen that are so on and off the field in terms of how they handle themselves, both at Chiddix and at other schools. We’re extremely proud of how they handle themselves and how they carry themselves. They have moral character in all situations. They remain very relaxed before a State final game. They are a group that will persevere and is committed.” She said their teamwork showed on the diamond during practices and games and away from them. She added the goals coaches and players had added to expectations by all concerned helped the team get as far as they did.

Team members are: Aidan Archibald, Kyle Beaty, Brandy Bengtson, Leif Blair, Owen Cavanaugh, Caden Correll, Christopher Courier, Lucas Drengwitz, Kaileb Hackman, Dane Harbert, Riley Hendren, Blake Potts, Jonah Roper, Drew Stevens, Ryan Theile, Devan Tupper, Charlie Vercruysse, and team manager Tucker Carlock. Charlie Shempf is the team’s head coach with assistant coach Ryan Short, and volunteer assistant coach Ben Smith, and volunteer coach Sean Shook. The head coach for CJHS’ 7th grade team is Brandon Knapp.

“Those Who Excel” Honorees Recognized: Board members were informed about groups and individuals within the district who were recently honored at the annual Illinois State Board of Education “Those Who Excel” Dinner held Oct. 19 at the Carol A. Reitan Conference Center at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel in Uptown.

Honorees from the district included: Unit 5’s Middle School English as Second Language (ESL) team; Early Career Educator Brock Keller; Leslie Davenport for receiving a Meritorious School Administrator Award; April Schermann for her work as a Classroom Teacher; Elizabeth Kelley for her work in Educational Service; and Naomi Kosier for her work for her role serving as Student Support Personnel.

Charlie Crabtree, who volunteered with Normal Community West High School girls’ basketball teams and was killed in an accident involving a Unit 5 bus and a truck last December, was also honored for his volunteerism by ISBE at the dinner. His wife, Kathy, and two adult daughters were present for the meeting.

Audit Report Presented: Board members heard a brief report on an audit conducted by CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, represented by Lindsey Samp and Tommy Hoerr. The firm had only one major finding to report to Board members related to payroll expenditures. They discovered one instance of costs claimed for reimbursement in reality were exceeding costs actually incurred by the district. Board members unanimously voted to approve the audit report.

Academic Growth And Achievement Report Presented: Board members heard an update on how student academic growth and achievement is progressing in the district based on figures compiled in the 2018-19 school year. It was presented by Mo Backe, director of elementary education, Dan Lamboley, director of secondary education; and Darrin Cooper, director of teaching and learning. Among the highlights presented were that the district is exceeding the State when it comes to the percentage of high school students on track to graduate in four years.

The report presented showed Normal Community High School had 562 freshmen, 90.4 percent of them were on track to graduate. At Normal Community West High School, there were 417 freshmen, 89.8 percent were on track to graduate. Overall, that showed that 90 percent of the district’s freshmen were in this position, as opposed to the percentage of students statewide in that position. The State’s percentage of students in that position was 86.6 percent.

In terms of where students opted to go after getting their diploma from Unit 5 at the end of the last school year, the team’s research showed, of NCHS students, 57 percent attended a four-year college or university; 33 percent attended community college; 3 percent entered the military; and 7 percent entered the workforce.

Of Normal West students tracked, 44 percent attended a four-year college or university; 35 percent attended community college; 3 percent entered the military; and 4 percent entered the workforce.

Public Hearing Held Regarding Life Safety Projects: Prior to looking into allocating funds for life safety projects concerning parking lots and driveways at Normal Community West High School and Pepper Ridge Elementary, a public hearing was held for input from community members. No members of the public spoke. The district will now seek bids from contractors for the projects. Those bids will be opened with one bid presented to Board members for a vote at a future meeting.

New Human Resources Director Introduced: This meeting was the first for the district’s new human resources director. Roger Baldwin, 49, was introduced to audience members by District Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel. He began his new job Oct. 21. He previously worked in the telecommunications field for 25 years, his previous job being with Frontier Communications and its predecessors for 26 years. The last nine of those years spend working in human resources. A Navy veteran, he received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Illinois State University. Explaining he had always been drawn to working with labor, and the more research he did on Unit 5, “the more it made sense to apply here.

Dates Announced For Music Parents Spaghetti Suppers: Jennifer Speirer, a parent representing the Unit 5 Music Parents Association, invited Board members to attend the two annual Spaghetti Supper events which will be held in November. The supper held at Normal Community West High School will be held Monday, Nov. 4. The supper held at Normal Community High School will be held Monday, Nov. 11. Both events will run from 5p.m.9p.m. She invited Board members to attend to the function. Tickets are available for cost at the door.

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