2023-24 High School Confidential: Week 15

Jan. 25—NEW — Sign up for our High School Confidential newsletter here.

Want to purchase today's print edition? Here's a map of single-copy locations.


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.

Feedback? Email N-G/VP Jim Rossow at

On to this week's report ...

Academy High

At Sunday's Brainiac Bonanza, a team-based trivia competition for current middle schoolers, participants competed in several rounds of trivia, focusing on subjects such as movies and technology, as well as a game of "Guess That Tune." Winners received gift cards.

— Cassie Patten


Students cheered on the girls' basketball team in its LPC Conference championship win on Saturday night (photo courtesy Amanda Kessler). Additionally, the boys' basketball team advanced in the LPC Conference earlier that day. It is safe to say students are beaming with Rider Pride.


On Jan. 13, the cheer competition kicked off at the Vermilion County basketball tournament at Danville Area Community College. All seven schools competed for the top spot and did amazing.

— Eli Kennel


Emma Garlutzo, Ariel Ponce, Evan Fogerson and Erin Rogers attended the Healthcare Pathways Program at Kirby Medical Center in Monticello. They participated in three sessions: Emergency Services, Therapy Services, and Healthcare 101, in which they learned about different aspects of the healthcare field. The day also included a facility tour. These students, along with others from Piatt County schools, will make a second visit in April to learn even more about their future careers.

— Quinn Flavin


The Blue Devils had a busy week with the county tournament taking place. The "Blue Zoo" really showed out for the boys' championship game on Saturday and cheered them to victory. Pictured left to right, Connor Powell, Eli Godwin, Enrique Rangel, Abran Arvizu and Spencer Wall looked sharp in their formal attire as they participated in the school's formal theme.

— Krislynn Kizer

Blue Ridge

The Scholastic bowl team went 8-1 and finished in first place at Loyola Willmette on Saturday. Leading the team, A.J. Johnson earned the second top scorer in the division. As coach Evan Miles often says, "Smart is cool!" Pictured (courtesy Meghan James), left to right: Evan Miles, Elias Nolan, Indra Nolan, A.J. Johnson, Devin Wrestler, Brody Soliday and Ivy Whitehouse.

— Addison Warsaw

Cerro Gordo

National Honor Society is putting on another blood drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday in the junior high gym. Those wishing to donate must be 16 years or older with parent permission. Anyone in the community who would like to participate should visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to sign up for a time. It's the second blood drive NHS has hosted this school year.

— Alex Johnson

Champaign Central

Last weekend, students attended the Illinois High School Thespian Festival at Illinois State. For three days, students participated in around 40 theatre-related workshops, watched their peers' productions, and learned about theatre programs from 33 different colleges. Pictured: students who attended with director Mary Jones; thespians seated to watch a production; State Thespian Officers Angela Nguyen and Sierra Smith; and Adsen Tarr, Nevaeh Bickerstaff, Noelle Song and Kelly Hong at a workshop.

— Samaira Sandil


Due to weather related issues, Chrisman had e-learning days last Wednesday and Friday. School staff enjoyed their time out of the building while still supporting student's needs. English teacher Carrie Mason said: "I'm proud of the effort, maturity and positivity that so many high schoolers have put into e-learning this week." Family and

Consumer Science educator Nicole Brown brightened student's days with icebreaker questions, asking on Friday: "If you could be an animal in this arctic weather, which would you be?" Staff kept themselves in high spirits, too, as demonstrated by Principal Nicole Cox and her dog Sadie. Sadie decided her favorite e-learning subject was PE.

— Grayson Strange

Cissna Park

Student council set up a hot chocolate stand for students to keep them warm during these chilly winter days. Pictured, left to right: Annika Stadeli, Mady Marcott and Ava Henrichs; and Kloie Clauss.

— Brooklyn Stadeli


Over the course of the next four weeks, Emily McClure's agriculture communications and leadership class are teaching fourth-grade students at Fisher Grade School different agricultural lessons. After leading the class in the 4-H Pledge, the high school students conduct STEM based experiments and teach them how to revise and rethink how their plans could work better. Pictured: Melina Luyando (left) Morgan Birkey (right); Victoria Cullotta; Pierce Rodgers (left) and Jacob Chittick (right); Asher Litman; and Jenna Clemmons.

— Jenna Clemmons

Georgetown-Ridge Farm

The girls' basketball team placed fourth at the county tournament. Pictured: Addison Spesard, Madi Spesard, Sydney Spesard and Savana Cunningham. The boys' basketball did not get the outcome it wanted but fought hard. Pictured: JJ Hall, William Runyon and Brady Chamberlain.

— Ashlyn Spesard

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley

On Jan. 17, more than 140 freshmen, sophomores and juniors took the PSAT — a testament to the students' desire to show their growth academically.

— Rylie Huls


On Saturday, student council had their annual WinterFest Prep Lock-in. The night consisted of planning for WinterFest week, snacking on lots of food, decorating the hallways, creating decorations, playing extreme hide-and-seek in the dark, and battling to stay awake until the morning. The council truly worked hard to get ready for their event, all while bonding in the process. Pictured: Hunter Montgomery being drawn on in his sleep; and council advisors Julia Hermosillo and Christine Campos smiling under their wintery entryway.

— Lillian Montgomery

Hoopeston Area

The girls' basketball team won third place at the Vermillion County tournament, and the boys' team placed fourth. Brylie Cox and Claire Dixon made the all-tournament team for the girls, and Mason Rush and Kendrick Sigerill made the all-tournament team for the boys.

— Emmalee Bruens

Judah Christian

Seniors took personality tests in their Life On Your Own class, which is dedicated to help seniors transition from high school to college — along with all the responsibility and independence that comes with it. This lesson helped the seniors discover what they may not know about themselves and their tendencies, allowing them to take note of their own strengths and weaknesses. Pictured together, left to right: Grace Maxwell, Josh Fredrick, Grant Ipsen, Ava Carder and Klementine Davis.

— Hannah Jackson


Seven students participated in Illinois Wesleyan's two-day band concert. Congratulations to Logan Sparling, Izzy Pray, Emma Kinkaid, Maggie Roe, Thatcher Ross, Hailey Vollmer-Fogle, and Colin Dunafin on their acceptance to this event.

— Emily Bogema


Last weekend's Variety Show, a performance that the drama club puts on every year, showcased many students and their talents including singing, dancing, comedy and poetry. Students prepared with many run-throughs and rehearsals in the weeks leading up to the performances. Hometown, one of the many bands that performed, includes members Aaron Rath on co-vocals and guitar; Isaac Hanson on co-vocals, saxophone and piano; Jack Geiger on bass; and Daniel Traficante on drums. The band performed two songs: "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry and "Up There In Orbit" by Earl Bostic. "We started Hometown in the summer of 2023," Rath said. "Isaac Hanson and I asked a few kids from our school to join us in some songs, which resulted in them joining the band permanently."

Since forming, Hometown has played at Yo-Yo's Coffee and Bar in Mahomet, The Fieldhouse in Monticello and Oak and Flame Bourbon Hall in LeRoy.

"We are currently in the process of finding a few venues in Mahomet and the surrounding areas to perform at between now and the last day of the school year," Rath said.

The band's favorite part of this year's Variety Show was, "realizing that when we all came together for the practices, we realized that what we were doing is something that not many people get the chance to do, at least not at the level that we do it at," Rath said.

Follow them on Instagram (@hometown_ms).

Pictured: (back row) senior Isaac Hanson, eighth-grader Jack Geiger and junior Daniel Traficante; and (front row) junior Aaron Rath.

— Maddie Grindley


Students back from winter break have been able to be in the new building that offers Family & Consumer Science classes. Not only that, but the addition to the school also is home to the social workers' office and new board room for school board meetings.

— Hunter Mowrey


FACS Club and FFA came together to host "Dips and Dodgeball". Members brought in dips to share before the juniors and freshmen took on the seniors and sophomores in a game of dodgeball.

— Tynley Jackson


The boys' basketball team read to the students at Broadmeadow Elementary School and spent the morning with them. Student council went to the KDASC Winter Retreat and met new people and learned so much. The school's Special Olympics team, the Rantoul Crusaders, took part in the Region 1 basketball skills competition and those who placed first in their division move on to state, including Terrance Crites. Several students volunteered at the event.

— Ashlee Freeman

St. Joseph-Ogden

The Constitution Team finished second at the Illinois We the People state finals behind powerhouse Maine South. SJ-O will compete in Washington, D.C. The team will hold We the Pasta Trivia Night (Feb. 24) and We the Pickle(ball) Tournament (March 3) at school to raise funds for the trip. Pictured: Isaiah Mock, James Harbourt and Quinn Lewis; Samantha Beetz, Chloe Burkhalter and Macy Reed.

— Mya Bott

St. Thomas More

A travel party of 37 students and 11 adults went to Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life on Friday.

An added bonus: The chance to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

"A few years ago when we took the trip, we found out that there was an opportunity for groups to take part in the wreath laying ceremony, so we applied and were chosen," Sister Bridget Martin said. "They decided to try again this year, and were chosen for (last Thursday's) ceremony. It is such a powerful experience to even just see the wreath laying ceremony, much less to be part of it.

"I'm sure that the students were very moved by the experience."

Pictured: Paige Stark, Kristina Maloney, Thomas Corapi and Philip Christilf.

— Suhani Garg

Salt Fork

National Honor Society welcomed new members at the induction ceremony last Sunday. The induction was run by the NHS officers. New members include Jillian Almy, Payton Cox, Peyton Hatcher, Bracie Hird, Brycie Hird, Maya Smith and Aidan Talbott.

— Macie Russell


The boys' basketball team won its game, 69-64, junior Peyton Kuemmerle scoring 31 points. Meanwhile, the girls' basketball team has been playing hard, too, with several home games on tap. Pictured: Freshmen, left to right, Addisyn Forsyth, Reagan Troglia and Layla Briggs.

— Anna Lehmann


Juniors Dylan Skinner (left) and Jimmy Dillon are in the LIFT Central Illinois program this year and currently enrolled in the construction and electrical pathways. Both received the OSHA-10, Skills USA Career Essentials, CPR, and NCCER Core certifications.

— Lydia Richardson


Girls' varsity basketball coach Tim Kohlbecker made history with his 400th win lastt week at the opening game of the CIC tournament. It's Kohlbecker's 20th season and he holds the record for the most wins from a single coach in Tuscola history. In boys' basketball,Jordan Quinn accomplished a feat only a few in school history can claim: 1,000 career points. Reaching that mark in a 59-52 win against Teutopolis, Jordan and recent graduate Jalen Quinn become the first siblings to score 1,000 points at Tuscola.

— Brayden Gough

Uni High

With only three days of in-person school, one of the main events last week was the boys' basketball home game on Friday night against Deland-Weldon. Uni won but the highlight of the game was Uni's "throwback" jersey pick, wearing old uniforms to draw a crowd and create hype around the game. A photoshoot took place before the game to showcase the special jerseys (via Bruce Tang and Knox Mynatt). Pictured: Bruce Tang and Knox Mynatt; David Black (40), Tristen Ting (1), Ben Newman (20), Collins Rosch (32) and Mynatt (25).

— Knox Mynatt


On Saturday, the Rockettes competed in their IHSA sectional in Mascoutah. Thanks to their fifth-place finish, they'll be dancing at IHSA state this weekend. Left to right: Kourtney Russell, Ella Darnall, Chloe Cousins, Olivia Egelston, Lindsey Johnson, Faith Lampe, Ava Holladay, Desire De Los Santos and Lily Steffens.

— Tatum Meyer

Villa Grove

Last Thursday, council students enjoyed a retreat day in Champaign. The students said it was a good, relaxing time and nice to meet other students from surrounding schools.

— Alexandria Brown