2023-24 High School Confidential: Week 26

Apr. 11—***

Welcome to Year 8 of High School Confidential, powered by Danville Area Community College. It's an award-winning project made possible by aspiring student journalists from every corner of our circulation area. Each Thursday through April, they'll tell us what's happening in their hallways at .

At least once a week, we'll also hand over our Snapchat account (News-Gazette) to our correspondents for behind-the-scenes tours. This week, Mahomet-Seymour's Maddie Grindley took us to an eclipse watch party outside school.

Feedback? Email N-G/VP Jim Rossow at .

On to this week's report ...

The track and field team competed at last weekend's county tournament for the first time in a couple years and was successful in placing in the top six in events like high jump, long jump, 400 meters and hurdles. On Saturday, the meet brought back pole vault as the Trojans won the boys' event. Pictured: Nate Bird (in blocks); and pole vault winners Haley Carlton (Georgetown-Ridge Farm) and Eli Kennel (Armstrong). Also, students enjoyed a view of Monday's eclipse.

The school district had a reunification drill before Easter break to prepare for emergencies that may occur. Responding to a fire in the cafeteria, students and staff practiced safety by evacuating the school, loading buses and gathering at Monticello Christian Church, where they were reunited with parents and guardians. Area first responders such as local police officers, firefighters and EMTs from Piatt County also participated. "The reunification exercise was a valuable learning experience for our school district," Principal Doug Kepley said. "In the event that we would need to relocate to an off-site location, we were able to better understand what worked and what we could do differently to connect parents with their child. We appreciate everyone working together to make this reunification exercise a positive experience."

Kaylee Leigh's anatomy students dissected sheep brains last Friday. They were challenged with labeling all of the parts on the outside of the brain and then cutting it in half and labeling the parts within the brain. Pictured: Ava Robinson and Sandra Cintora; Ayden Ingram and Jordan Johnson; and Alexis Jaskula and Maci Long.

FFA elected its 2024-2025 chapter officers (above): President Kaydance Wooton, Vice President Rachel Light, reporter Lily Enger, secretary Lori Weiss, treasurer Presley Hardesty, sentinel Carmen Ellis and historian Ava Paullin. Also, for Monday's solar eclipse, STEM Club (right) went to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to watch it in totality, enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime event. Pictured, left to right: (top row) Indra Nolan, Broghen Flannell, Elias Nolan, Renn Light, Mercedes Manuel and Breal Flannell; (bottom row) Lauren Schriefer, Colbey Burton, Sydney Beckman, A.J. Johnson, Clayton Evans, Cullen Scurlock, Carissa Small, Isaac Price and Romero Fernandez.

On Monday, seventh-hour classes walked out to enjoy beautiful weather and the eclipse. That included an AP psychology class (pictured), which enjoyed music played by Michael Allen's guitar class. The school provided eclipse viewers that added to a unique experience that students enjoyed. Also, Nata Gomez, a student in Brandy Barter-Storm's ESL class, won third place in an essay-writing contest for ESL students in Illinois. Her comparison essay on Quinceñeras and Sweet 16s was described as "informative and interesting" by the contest judges. She received a certificate and a check for $50.

With prom approaching, the high school arranged a safety demonstration for students on Friday. Chrisman's fire and police departments and ambulance services put on a mock DUI crash scene for students to observe. First responders explained and demonstrated the process of responding to a scene which taught a valuable lesson to students on knowing their boundaries for prom night. Thanks to Chrisman police Chief Tom Dolan and Chrisman Fire Chief Mike Marvin for their participation.

The annual Farmers vs. Cropdusters basketball game consists of two teams coached by high school boys' basketball players and made up of high school boys who don't participate in the basketball program. The players wore vintage uniforms, and the "coaches" dressed up. Aiden Richards was the student announcer and really brought some life to the gym. Chase Petry and Joe Ivers coached the Cropdusters, and Tyler Nuekomm and Brayden Bruens coached the Farmers. After a long battle, the Cropdusters came out on top. The MVP award was given to Clint Walder of the Farmers, capping off an enjoyable afternoon for the whole school to watch.

On Friday, the Class of 2024 took its trip to Chicago. Seniors went to the Chicago Field Museum, lunched at Lou Malnati's Pizza and explored the Chicago Art Institute. Students left the high school at 7 a.m. and returned at 8 p.m. after a chilly day in the Windy City. Graduation is May 25 at Danville Stadium.

Members of the FFA club participated in the Ag Business CDE and the Horticulture CDE last week. Pictured: Victoria Cullotta (left) and Asher Litman; and Jenna Clemmons, Caleb Zwilling, Emily Lone and Kesiah Musick. Also, the high school band put on a showcase for the fourth-grade class, introducing their different instruments and helping to get them excited to join the band.

Haley Carlton set a county record in winning pole vault at 11 feet, 1 inch.

Congratulations to the following Future Business Leaders of America members who placed top 10 in their event: Getty Greer, Nick Smith, Ryan Carley, Jackson Swidergal, Ella Brake, Lizzie Giroux, Lily Sizemore and Chasyn Pollard. Four are now headed to Nationals in Orlando, Fla.: Greer, Carley, Smith and Pollard.

Last year's student teacher in Christine Campos' English class moved to teach in Bulgaria. Still in touch, they decided it would be fun to pair Heritage students with Bulgarian students as penpals. Throughout this year, junior and senior students have been writing back and forth. Last Thursday, the group received a package sent from Bulgaria. It included all sorts of snacks and treats that they like in their country. The Heritage students made an unboxing video, and now they are waiting for the Bulgarian students to unpackage the box they sent.

Health classes learned CPR as members of the local fire department came in to teach the group the life-saving skill. Students also had the chance to practice CPR on the training models.

Math students have been working hard as the school year comes to an end, especially for the seniors who are preparing for finals and end-of-the-year tests. Also, students gathered outside school to enjoy a view of Monday's eclipse.

The 2024-2025 FFA officer team has been elected and was put into place at Tuesday's FFA Banquet: President Stephanie Sterrenburg, Vice-President Ciara Mann, secretary Daytin Thompson, treasurer Dylan Potter, reporter Sydney Seyfert, sentinel Hailey Rieches, chaplain Noah Brittenham, historian Jacob Weakley and Parliamentarian Christopher Kruse.

Spanish Club took a field trip last Thursday to visit the Piatt County Nursing Home. While there, students split off and visited residents to chat and participate in activities. After the visit, the group enjoyed Mexican food before returning to the school.

On Friday, eighth-graders put on their annual wax museum. Every year, the class picks a public figure and opens the school to the public so people can ask questions of the students to learn more about the public figure.

Among students recognized last week: senior Andrew Reed as Comet of the Month for April; Will Irick for being nominated for our character trait of the month, optimism; and senior Gracie Enos as our Comet Athlete of the Month.


The school's drama department put on the production "Zombie Prom." There were three shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as audiences enjoyed the productions.

Senior Carson Maroon set a new school record in the 3,200 meters in a tie of 9 minutes, 31.88 seconds.

Ameren Illinois came to speak with students about power line safety, demonstrating the dangers of open power lines (and even blowing up a squirrel). Pictured (courtesy Britta Kreps): Reid Craddock.

The boys' and girls' track and field teams swept top honors at last week's county meet. Also, students went outside to enjoy Monday's eclipse.

North Campus student Mai Nguyen won the Knights of Columbus Christmas poster contest at the local and state level. Nguyen (pictured with family and a Knights of Columbus representative) is also a runner-up in the international level. For further cultural enrichment, Schlarman's dual-enrollment music appreciation class (pictured with Professor Zhanna Lehman) went on a field trip to see a concert on the works of Robert and Clara Schumann as well as Johannes Brahms. There will be many musical and theatrical performances hosted by students in the coming weeks to bring the school year to a close.

At Friday's annual Engineering Open House hosted by the University of Illinois, students went to many exhibits such as the Rube Goldberg machine, concrete crusher and building legos. Science teacher Kendra Saddoris helped organize the event for Shiloh as a reward day. All students who had grades no lower than a C and had no behavior logs were allowed to participate. Also, students ventured outside Monday to view the eclipse.

The Warriors were represented on the national level by Louisville cross-country and track commit Josiah Hortin and Southern Illinois cross-country and track commit Will Foltz. Both runners competed in the Arcadia Invitational in California, an event that features the best athletes in the country, and Foltz finished first in his heat in the 3,200 meters in 9:09.66. Hortin competed in the same race, finishing second in his heat in a school-record time of 9:05.86. Left to right (via Mary Hatfield): Hortin and Foltz.

Students were allowed to head outside and view Monday's eclipse safely from the school's lawn, and many people tried taking photos and videos. Pictured: seniors David Risinger, Aya Surheyao, Grace Williams-Kim and Noreen Adoni; and juniors Collins Rosch and Ben Newman.

At last Thursday's 19th annual Fine Arts Festival, art students were able to show off their artwork they'd been working on all year. There was also a talent show in the Polly Anderson Auditorium where there were many people who performed and played instruments.

The Echo and Rosemary staff competed in the IHSA Journalism Sectional on Saturday. Pictured from back left: Camille Spann, Sanaa Parker, Morgan Perez, Eisla Madigan, Dante Kolak, Reuben Birdwell, Brendel Kuignou, Amani Brown, Arelly Gutierrez, Ruby Pittenger and Valentina Gonzalez-Ahuerma. Also, students went to the football complex to enjoy Monday's eclipse.

On Friday, students attended the Engineering Open House at the University of Illinois. The open house had many exhibits, robots and models to view and explore. There were many different buildings with multiple booths to observe and participate in to learn about many concepts of engineering. This was an amazing learning opportunity for high school students to discover more about STEM. A special thank you to the University of Illinois for this inspirational event.