2023-24 High School Confidential: Week 7

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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 news-gazette.com.

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 jrossow@news-gazette.com.

Academy High

The school's Maker Space recently was finished. The 3D printers and cricut machine are available for any students to use.

— Cassie Patten and Eleanor Laufenberg


During a Spirit Week Halloween celebration put on by the GSA club, students got creative with their costumes — like Shelby Roberts-McGeehon and Reginae Luckett with their Clueless outfits. Many students got to go on field trips last week, including art students to Parkland College to attend workshops. Carolina Torres and Izzy Spracklen also went to Illinois State University for their Future Teacher Conference. Photos courtesy Allison Phillips.


A handful of students spent Halloween dressing up in their costumes for school. During the day, student council — run by Margie Ashcraft — handed out prizes for the funniest, scariest and most original costumes.

— Eli Kennel


Will Fuson was named Student of the Quarter, an award sponsored by the State Bank of Bement and student council. Fuson also placed 12th at the IHSA Class 1A cross-country state meet in 15 minutes, 12 seconds to earn all-state.

— Quinn Flavin


Blue Devils of all ages turned into movie characters, witches, princesses and even the Pillsbury Doughboy for a day. Students and faculty got in on the Halloween fun by trick-or-treating in the office and submitting their names for a prize drawing.

— Krislynn Kizer

Blue Ridge

On Halloween, student council hosted a costume contest. The high school special ed teachers and aids dressed up as TY Beanie Babies.

— Addison Warsaw


Engineering Club has been busy this school year. From creating paper airplanes (Ayan Ehsan), launching handmade bottle rockets (Wyatt McCarty) to learning about the space time continuum and black holes through virtual reality from the University of Illinois' POINT VR program. Photos courtesy club president Sarmad Mizan.

— Lydia Shaw

Cerro Gordo

Students dressed up for Red Ribbon Week, celebrated to encourage a drug-free approach. Monday was Pajama Day, Tuesday was Rhyme Without Reason, Wednesday was Barbenheimer, Thursday was Decades Day and Friday was Red Day, which connects the entire week to the cause of drug prevention. It didn't stop there, though, as students went into the following week with Oct. 30 being Dress Like A Teacher Day and Costume Day on Halloween Broncos. Pictured: Seniors dressed up for Decades Day (left to right): Dylan Howell, Tyson Moore, Ian Bettinger Gavin Larrick Mason Mcdermith and Cortlen Brunner.

— Alex Johnson

Champaign Central

Interact Club hosted its 8th Annual Turkey Trot on Saturday morning at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana. The event raised $2,000, all of which will benefit Orphans Treasure Box. The 5K race was open to members of the Champaign-Urbana community with chances to earn prizes ranging from turkey hats to restaurant coupons. Among those pictured: Interact Club officers Aidan Warner, Neiman Shivers, Kate Koske and Keerthi Jagarlamudi; winners Maaike Niekerk and Chris Miller; volunteers Veronica Grassman, Anna Squire and Allison Tucker; and all of the participants lined up for the run. "It was a wholesome event that brought a community together and raised awareness about women coming out of prison, addiction, and domestic violence. I absolutely loved being apart of organizing the 5K that was for such a good cause like Orphans Treasure Box," said Jagarlamudi, Interact Club officer.

— Samaira Sandil


Students were busy honoring a district teacher, dressing for spooky season and traveling for a conference. The high school participated in the district wide "Pink for Mrs. Ross" day. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, students dressed in pink to support elementary teacher Gwen Ross, through her battle. Last Tuesday, many students participated in the Halloween costume contest. Finally, 10 FFA members attended the national convention in Indianapolis, participating in sessions, an expo and a concert.

— Grayson Strange

Cissna Park

At the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis, 12 members attended sessions at Lucas Oil Stadium, a concert, a rodeo and other activities. The students had a great experience and made many memories. Photos by Julia Edelman.

— Brooklyn Stadeli


The second annual Halloween Spooktacular, sponsored by the high school orchestra, saw the North Ridge Middle School Orchestra and DHS String and Symphonic Orchestras throw an after-school trick-or-treat on the high school's second floor. Throughout the night, spooky music played by the orchestras filled the halls. Students also decorated doors with a theme that they selected. One group made a Wednesday Addams-themed door, and another crafted a 3D Hocus Pocus door. Pictured: Abigail Hogg (left) and Sophia Sasseen; and, (left to right) Isaiah Patton, Quran Woods, Alex Cosat, Da'Sani Lewis and Rylan Anderson, and Saphira Shuter (floor).

— Isaiah Easton


During spirit week to celebrate Halloween, themes were twin day for Monday, costume day on Tuesday, hippie vs hipster day on Wednesday, old person day on Thursday and pajama day on Friday. Pictured: Lorenzo Hagerty and art teacher Isabel Dunsmore.

— Emma Westray


Last Wednesday, members of the FFA chapter loaded up on a bus with advisor Emily McClure and headed to the national convention in Indianapolis. Pictured: front row (left to right) Aubrie Murray, Victoria Cullotta and Grace Morgan; back row (left to right) Jenna Clemmons, Caleb Zwilling, Asher Litman, Keegan Steenbergen, Alex Elwood and Emily Lone. Throughout the week, National Honor Society members and junior high student council members ran a food drive for the local food pantry in Fisher. It was a class vs. class competition, and the class that brought in the most food won a breakfast meal of donuts. Pictured: Jeremiah Todd, Cooper Dickey and Parker Rubenking.

— Jenna Clemmons

Georgetown-Ridge Farm

Several students attended the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Pictured: Owen Clark, Ross Berry, Addi Spesard, Sydney Spesard, Leyla Shelton, Haley Carlton, Sam Vice, Makenzie Williams, Kelsie Cramer and JJ Arnold.

— Ashley Spesard

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley

Girls' basketball is underway starting with Monday's Falcon Bunny Tip Off Tournament, hosted by GCMS and Fisher.

— Rylie Huls


On Oct. 31, National Honor Society members spent the afternoon volunteering at the Heritage elementary and middle school, helping with the little kids costume parade, different spooky games and the Halloween parties and dance. Pictured (courtesy Riley Miller): Kindergartners playing games in their costumes; students posing in the decorated gym before the dance; and middle schoolers entering the dance.

— Lilian Montgomery

Hoopeston Area

FFA students attended the national convention in Indianapolis where they had a lot of fun with exciting things to do. The group is a mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors. Taylor Page, a junior, was picked to play trombone for the National FFA Band.

— Emmalee Bruens

Judah Christian

Spanish classes dived into Día de los Muertos and how multiple cultures each celebrate in their own way. Pictured: Spanish IV class learning how Guatemalans celebrate the holiday, as well as Grace Maxwell standing in front of the makeshift wings of Spanish speaking countries. The feathers used for the wings were colored by students, and each are drawn with the flag of the country along with some representation of the country's culture.

— Hannah Jackson


Choirs had their fall concert last Thursday. There are several choirs, including concert, treble and chamber, which requires an audition. Bass choir and the Madrigals also performed at the concert, performing songs like "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Be the Change," "Apple Tree" and "Sinner Man." The students have worked hard over the past few months to take these songs to a performance ready level.

— Maddie Grindley


Members of the school's FFA chaper who attended the national convention in Indianapolis included: (left to right, front to back) advisor Dylan Payne, Jadyn Herriott, Daytin Thompson, Stephanie Sterrenburg, Ciara Mann, Madisyn Laffoon, Zaiden Koester, Jacob Weakley, Gracelin Gregory, Noah Brittenham, Hannah Potter, Molly Coffee, Abigail Beckman and advisor Quentin Schaumburg.

— Hunter Mowrey


The girls' swim team finished fifth at Saturday's sectional meet. The Sages set many personal records, including senior Charlie Ball who cut 33 seconds of her time in the 500 freestyle in what would be her final meet.

— Tynley Jackson


To celebrate Halloween, student council threw a costume contest with different categories. Students who didn't participate could vote on best costume in each category. Photos courtesy Jessica Rekart.

— Lucy Krabel


On Nov. 1-2, Spanish teacher Pam Yergler allowed students to paint sugar skulls on their faces for extra credit for Day of the Dead. The kids had a blast walking around school with their faces painted.

— Lily Chestnut


Student council came up with the idea of a fall dressup week from students' input that the school should do something for Halloween. The days consisted of Pajama Day (Monday), Rhyme Without Reason Day (Tuesday), White Lies (Wednesday), Teachers Dress Like Students/Students Dress Like Teachers Day (Thursday) and the iconic PBL phenomenon, Flannel Friday. The students had so much, dress up weeks near the holiday season helping them stay engaged before break. Pictured: (courtesy Charley Kietzman) students on Rhyme Without Reason Day; and band director Timothy Hess and Keegan Medlock on Teachers Dress Like Students/Students Dress Like Teachers Day

— Rebecca Lackey


FFA students attended the national convention in Indianapolis. On Halloween, most teachers dressed up in costumes. At last Wednesday's fall sports awards night, 81 scholar athlete awards were given.

— Ashlee Freeman

St. Thomas More

The volleyball team won another sectional title before falling short in last Friday's super-sectional match. Also, students spent a day packing boxes for Box of Joy to be sent to underprivileged children this Christmas.

— Suhani Garg

Salt Fork

FFA leader Stacey Rickard took 15 students to the national convention in Indianapolis where they got to go on the big stage to be rewarded for being a 3 Star National Chapter.Their week was full of fun activities and memories that will last a lifetime.

— Macie Russell


Basketball takes the spotlight this week as the junior high girls' team had two games Monday, the junior high boys' team finished its Topper Classic and the varsity boys' team is prepping for this month's traditional Topper Classic Tournament.

— Anna Lehmann


Student council attended a Halloween dance hosted by Heritage. It included a costume contest, movie and haunted maze. Pizza and dessert were served by the hosts and members had fun at the event. Some members of the council decided to do a group costume with the adviser, Dorene Boland, dressing up as the 101 Dalmatians. Boland was disguised as the famous villain from the Disney classic, Cruella. Pictured: (front row, left to right): Jack Houlihan, Kennedy Brown, Lily Brown, Ali Cash, Dorene Boland, Briana Reese, Chloe Thompson, Ella Bennett, Taylor Williams and Tayler Hepburn (back row) Charlie North, Ahlyssa Garwood, Shaylun Christenberry, Lily North, Katie Holmes, Maggie Milburn. Emily Milburn, Andy Houlihan, Lydia Richardson and Logan Gerberding.

— Lydia Richardson


The boys' cross-country team traveled to Detweiler Park in Peoria to claim the Class 1A state title on Saturday. Runners Jackson Barrett, Will Foltz and Josiah Hortin received all-state honors, finishing third, sixth and 10th, respectively. Blake McLeese, Xander Neamtu, David Hornaday and Lucas Coll-Rubio also contributed. Pictured, left to right: Blake McLeese, Xander Neamtu, David Hornaday, Kamden Fleener, Elias Hyld, Kade Wilcox, Jackson Taylor, Boyd Brewer, Carson Smith, Will Foltz, Jackson Barrett, Braden Smith and Josiah Hortin.

— Brayden Gough

Uni High

On Halloween, Uni conducted its annual costume contest in Uni Gym. Many students, regardless of if they competed in the costume contest, showed up in their spookiest and silliest costumes. Winners got lcandy, and candy was thrown from the gym floor onto the audience after the contest was concluded. The group contest winners were Coraline and ABBA, and individual winners were Minion and The Ring. Pictured: Uni Director Elizabeth Majerus as the Other Mother from Coraline, posing with Sandaru Devmal as Wybie and Ruby Mitchell as Coraline; Gabe Davis, Eleanor Kraatz, Tessa Waldhoff and Luca Zepeda-Flores dressed as ABBA; Jaewoo Park as "Minion" and Willie Fowler as The Ring high five after winning; and music teacher RickMurphy throws candy at students.

— Knox Mynatt


At the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Unity's national livestock judging team won a silver ranking. Individual rankings: Olivia Shike with gold, Hunter Shike with silver, and Grace Wherley and Claire Zorns with bronze. The farm and agribusiness management team placed sixth and won a gold rating, individual results including Sophia Stierwalt with gold and Aidan Ward, Avery Watson and Abby Woolcott with silver ratings. Shike is now a three-time national champion after winning first place in the National FFA Agriscience Fair Social Systems Division. On Friday, the Rockette dance team and band were on hand at the grand reopening of Savoy Walmart. Finally, Saturday saw the girls' cross-country team win state for the third year in a row (more on this next week!) and football advancing to the quarterfinals in the playoffs.

— Tatum Meyer


Culinary Arts students participated in an in-school field trip to practice grilling and meat smoking techniques. Led by Family Consumer Science teacher Cheyenne Warman-Neal and the school's own grillmaster, student interventionist Eric Morrow, students learned how to properly prep, cook and perfect everything needed for an out-of-this-world barbecue.

— Eisla Madigan

Villa Grove

Spanish teacher Elizabeth Nieto and senior Kyler Williams read a Day of the Dead book to third grade students on the second day of Day of the Dead last Thursday. The students were intrigued and had lots of questions at the end of the story.

— Alex Brown


Westville and Georgetown-Ridge Farm districts joined forces last weekend to produce the musical, "Little Women." Set in Concord, Mass., during the Civil War, it focuses on the strong-willed Josephine March's pursuit of literary greatness. Pictured: The March Girls (played by Haylee Nelson, Love Wright, Danielle Britton and Lili Friant) listen to Marmee (Chloey Gnaden) read a letter from their father who is fighting in the war; and Aiden McDaniel plays Theodore Laurence III.

— Irelynn Phelps