2023-24 High School Confidential: Week 19

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On to this week's report ...

Academy High

The Science Olympiad team competed in Battle of the States, a virtual asynchronous tournament between schools in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. Last Wednesday, team members Ray Scifres, Sophia Libman and Eleanor Laufenberg were awarded medals for placing third out of 33 teams in the Experimental Design event. The team is excited to participate in the regional tournament at Parkland College on March 2.

— Cassie Patten, Eleanor Laufenberg


On Friday, Desi Thomas' cultural culinary studies class got a taste of British dining. Students indulged in an authentic afternoon British tea. Thomas wanted "to bring a new cultural experience to the students." The culinary students dressed up and listened to classical music while they drank tea and ate traditional British mini desserts. Pictured (left to right: Sydney Mann, Ashley Pullen, Addison Mulligan and Ava Simpson. Also, the boys' varsity basketball team celebrated last Tuesday's win as the Purple Riders became champions of the Lincoln Prairie Conference regular season. Pictured: Aaron Gaone and Alex Hawn.


The community showed up in support last Tuesday night for Senior Night for boys' basketball players and cheerleaders. The Trojans won the game in a gym that was fully decorated with posters and balloons. Pictured, left to right: Nathan Rogers, Kollin Asbury, Braxton Gerth, Brooklyn Morgan and Eli Kennel.

— Eli Kennel


Student council hosted its annual American Red Cross Blood Drive. Students and faculty — as well as community members — came together to donate 28 units of blood.

— Quinn Flavin


The Blue Devils celebrated Senior Night last Tuesday before their game against Westville. Both girls' and boys' basketball were announced, along with cheer, band, dance and wrestling. Pictured (courtesy Amy Pasquale), left to right: Amber Reed, Lillie Trimble and Kelsey LeBeane; Ava Robinson and Allie Garfield; (middle) Abbi, Kelsey and Randy LeBeane; Blaike Monson, Hannah Howe and Maddy Vice; Angelina, Ayden and Rich Ingram; Melissa, Landon and Kent Leigh; and Amber-Christine Reed, Addisyn Thomas and Kelsey LeBeane.

— Krislynn Kizer

Blue Ridge

Boys' and girls' basketball and basketball cheer had their Senior Night (photos by Nancy Hoffman). Pictured, left to right: (front row) Cassie Zimmerman, Phoebe Reynolds and Rylee Burnett; (back row) Ty Meeker, Wyatt Pearl, Zach Lewis, Colin Michaels, Jan Saez and Tommaso Passero. Also pictured, left to right: Addison Warsaw, Phoebe Reynolds, Chelsea Lyle, Savanna Berry, Alexa Hobbs and Paige Browning.

— Addison Warsaw


The Scholastic Bowl team traveled to Eastern Illinois University to participate in the Honors College Tournament — and brought home first place. Alyssa McCleary (pictured) won first place in overall scoring, and Sophia Stuart (pictured first) tied for fourth.

— Lydia Shaw

Champaign Central

Last Tuesday, Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen visited the school to declare FBLA Week. She also spoke to the students about how to become more politically involved with the city and gave advice for running for office in the future. Pictured: Angela Nguyen and Ellie Kim.

— Samaira Sandil


Seniors got their moment to shine at the Senior Night boys' basketball game. Feb. 12-16 marked National FCCLA Week. With a highly engaged chapter, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America members planned a week of activities for the entire school to participate in. It consisted of daily engaging activities for outsiders to learn about the chapter, dress-up days and competitions. On Feb. 14, select FCCLA members attended the Section 7 conference to run for offices, attend workshops and compete in events. On Feb. 15, three senior groups were recognized: pep band members Luke Fender, Durham Switzer, Alexis Pinnell, Serena Raimer, Brody Haton and Rogan Maloney; basketball players Rogan Maloney, Chris Francis, Triston Lehmkuhl, Connor Rhoads and Garrett Wells; and cheerleaders Sydney Tevebaugh and Piper Knight. Finally, biological sciences teacher Jennifer Lorton took 14 students to Eastern Illinois University for the Febfest STEM Fair. Students were taught lessons from college professors using hands-on lab activities. For example: Sophomores observed cheek cells under microscopes, juniors learned to streak petri dishes, and seniors viewed a cadaver. Though this was Chrisman's first year in attendance, Jennifer Lorton said she will take students again.

— Grayson Strange


The Black Heritage Month committee hosted their Sadie Hawkins Spirit Week. Spirit dress-up days included "Jersey Day," "Church Day," "90/2000s Day" and the weekly "Fit-Check Friday." Students and staff alike were challenged to dress for the daily themes and show spirit for the Sadie Hawkins dance and Black Heritage Month. Students have enjoyed the first half of BHM as they've taken opportunities to have fun with their peers while engaging with Black history and culture.

— Isaiah Easton


Members of the Academic Challenge team competed at regionals at Heritage, taking first place overall and advancing to sectionals. Many individuals earned placings as well, including: Levi Hurley, Kaden Hays, Jayton Reynolds, Cooper Dickey, Keaton Brooks, Ander Hazzard, Noah Hurley, Daniel Bein, Jeremiah Todd and Parker Rubenking. Students also attended last weekend's Polar Plunge in Mahomet dressed as Disney princesses to raise money for the Special Olympics of Illinois. Pictured, left to right: Keegan Steenbergen, Anna Culbertson, Connor Vestal, Alyssa Jackson, Jenna Clemmons, Eve Detweiler, Robert Lindsay and Kira Becker.

— Jenna Clemmons

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley

The FFA chapter is busier than ever. With its annual scholarship auction on Saturday — capping National FFA Week — the officer team is diligently working to ensure a successful fundraiser. Proceeds from the auction go to the chapter through scholarships for seniors, conferences, competitions, conventions and more. New to the chapter is the greenhouse, which allows students to gain hands-on experience alongside education in the classroom. In the future, the chapter plans to host a Mother's Day plant sale each spring.

— Rylie Huls


On Friday, students from anatomy and AP biology classes went to Eastern Illinois University's Feb Fest. Students inspected live and dead cells under a microscope, dissected a squid, looked at plant fossils, explored a cadaver, learned about neurology, attended a wood class, dealt with succulents and heard about microbiology all with different college professors. Pictured (courtesy Lauren Hopper), left to right: Gwen Happ, Lillian Montgomery, Loran Tate, Hunter Montgomery, Mary Roland, Addi Weisman, Jack Ballard, Hunter Montgomery, Cohen Sands and Aidan Ashbrook; Montgomery volunteering during a wood class; Happ looking at dead and live cells under a microscope; Montgomery and Ashbrook in front of a dissected squid; and Roland and Happ with their fossils.

— Lillian Montgomery

Hoopeston Area

Congratulations to Angel Zamora (left) and Ayden Larkin (right), who wrestled for IHSA state titles at State Farm Center in Champaign. Zamora secured fourth place in his weight class, while Larkin placed sixth. It has been 12 years since the Cornjerkers had two state placers in the same year.

— Emmalee Bruens

Judah Christian

Students felt the love on Valentine's Day with candy grams. Student council provided sweets for the students to send to each other and delivered them last Wednesday. Pictured: Grace Maxwell, Grant Ipsen and Caleb McCullough sorting through the orders, and Ipsen delivering Toby Tschetter all his treats.

— Hannah Jackson


High school PE students went to the Yoga Lab in Bloomington to participate in power and restorative yoga. After yoga, they skated at the Bloomington Ice Center. Last Thursday, the girls' basketball team won a regional championship against Mt. Pulaski.

— Emily Bogema


Winter Spirit Week led up to the winter formal dance that took place on Saturday. Monday was "Pajama Day," Tuesday was "Anything But A Backpack Day," Wednesday was "On Wednesdays We Wear Pink," Thursday was "Monochromatic Day," and Friday was "Dress As Your Favorite Character or Meme Day." Pictured: Theron Beguin with his popcorn machine for "Anything But A Backpack Day"; and Lauren Burr as the Lorax for "Dress As Your Favorite Character Day."

— Maddie Grindley


Matchomatic surveys were for sale on Valentine's Day from student council. Students Ethan Courchaine, Lauren Good and Olivia Gerdes purchased their surveys to see compatibility with fellow students and read birthday facts.

— Tynley Jackson


It was a week full of good acts. On Thursday, student council hosted the first blood drive of the semester, with quite a bit of students signing up — always a great thing. During eighth hour on a snowy Friday, students in intro to ag class went outside and cleaned off the cars in the parking lot.

— Lucy Krabel


Taylen Wait was honored with a Good Citizen Award at last week's DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) luncheon. We are proud of her and her hard work.

— Lily Chesnut


A student of the month for February: senior Makenna Cravens. On Valentine's Day, the chamber choir performed singing Valentines for various students and teachers.

— Ashlee Freeman

St. Joseph-Ogden

FFA had its annual auction on Feb. 11. Current and alumni members of the FFA successfully ran the event, which included a dinner. Pictured: former Prairieview Ogden students Jayci Hayes, Cole Pruitt, Caleb Ochs, Colin Wayland, Mitchell Wright, Talan Miller and Grace Goldenstein.

— Mya Bott

St. Thomas More

Cheerleaders passed out Valentine candygrams, raising about $1,400 in the process. Pictured: Grace Dimoke, Julia Johnson, Sister M. Bridge Martin, Father Andru O'Brien and Anthony Corapi.

— Suhani Garg

Salt Fork

Student council had senior members Ty Smoot, Macie Russell, Amelia Birge, Ava Marrow, Jillian Almy and Bricelynn Keeran — for the first time — dress up for Valentine's Day and spread love around the school by passing out Cupid grams. The girls' basketball team brought home hardware by winning a regional championship. As the Oakwood-Salt Fork wrestling team set school records by having eight individuals qualify for IHSA state, three seniors left their mark in the program by placing: Dalton Brown and Grant Brewer (sixth) and Bryson Capansky (second).

— Macie Russell


The varsity Scholastic Bowl team continued its undefeated season, and Deuce Provost signed a scholarship to attend Spring Arbor (Mich.) University.

— Anna Lehmann


Family, Career and Community Leaders of America week was celebrated by the organization selling Crush cans of soda to students and staff (junior Kylynn Powell, left, and sophomore Rylee Lamar). Each can represented either friendship or love. The group also raised money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. To cap the week, 13 members went to the Section 7 winter conference. Junior Kayli Trotter was elected vice president for the 2024-25 school year. The following students competed against other schools: freshman Payton Scott (third place, creed speaking), Trotter (first place, career investigation), senior Emily Milburn (second place, job interview), sophomore Maggie Milburn and senior Kaylee Ruff (first place, chapter in review portfolio). FCCLA adviser and home economics teacher Carey Hendrix led the group. Pictured, left to right: (front row) Powell, Hailey Hollingsworth, Maggie Milburn, Brooke Tharp and Lamar; (back row) Emily Milburn, Ruff, Scott, Tayler Hepburn, Trotter, Katie Holmes, Hennessey White and Emily Powell.

— Lydia Richardson


Congratulations to senior Michelle Reese for her Vet Science — Placement award at the Section 17 FFA Proficiency contest. She advanced to the District 4 contest on March 6.

— Brayden Gough


Students spent the week in Clarksdale, Miss., building houses and interacting with the community. Their volunteer tasks ranged from roofing, painting, installing drywall, putting the finishing touches on House No. 50, volunteering at local schools, working at the local care station and working with kids at Spring Initiative. Words cannot describe how this trip truly impacts Uni students — such as myself — but more importantly, impacts the community of Clarksdale. Pictured: Harsh Patel, Swapnil Kumar, Gabe Davis, Tristen Ting and Kelby Svendsen getting flipped over by a performer on Beale Street on a day trip to Memphis; Nathaniel Wiesbrook and Lisa Spencer putting up drywall; students at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis; and Ana Olson putting finishing touches on a dorm's new paint color.

— Knox Mynatt


It was a busy week, starting with the first Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Week. Students dressed up each day, and FCCLA members attended a conference with sponsor Kim Krukewitt. On Friday night, Unity Music Boosters hosted their annual All Out A Cappella fundraiser, six area a cappella groups as well as Unity West's fifth-graders and Unity's Surreal Sound performing. Finally, wrestlers made a great showing at state with Kaden Inman earning second and Hunter Eastin winning a state title.

— Tatum Meyer


Winter guard finished its competitive season at the IDTA State Finals on Feb. 10. The team's lyrical flag routine placed fifth, and senior captain Morgan Perez placed ninth with her flag solo. Pictured: lyrical team members Chloe Rogers, Morgan Perez, Quinn Lyon, Iman Rosaliano and Madison Snyder performing at state to "Evermore" by Josh Groban.

— Eisla Madigan

Villa Grove

On Friday, the school celebrated Senior Night for band, dance, boys' basketball and basketball cheer. The Blue Devils won their Senior Night game against ALAH 65-52.

— Alexandria Brown


Book Club invited Jenna Wilson, author of "When I Woke Up," to celebrate her first published book. Wilson spoke about her writer's block and how her students pushed her through the process before taking part in the club's first book-signing event. Pictured: Wilson and Julie Balgemen, club sponsor; and Wilson and Faith VanCamp, club member. Also, Sunday's annual Sweetheart Concert was an opportunity for chorus students to perform as soloists and as a group to show off their talent and get everyone in the Valentine's Day spirit. "Getting to hear the different types of music, such as country, rock and classic music, and discovering what people can really do with their voices is something I enjoy about this concert," freshman chorus member Ruby Freeland said. "It was a very good concert. Watching the soloists and other groups express themselves was an amazing experience," freshman chorus member Loghan Acord said. Special thanks to Melissa Pinter, Jill Smith, Cameron Sheets and Ayden Hart for helping with the sound and accompaniment for this concert.

— Olivia Troglia and Irelynn Phelps