Tuesday, May 26, 2020
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IL school snapshots in a quick minute: Nov. 17

Voters gather near the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, before the 2008 presidential election.

History comes to life

  1. Rabbi Hillel Gamoran, now 86, spoke to about a hundred students at Highcrest Middle School in Wilmette regarding his Civil Rights participation as a 34-year-old Hoffman Estates rabbi, Pioneer Press reports. He joined the 1963 March on Washington and took part in a voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Terror, and not, in schools

  1. Oak Park-River Forest High School was placed on soft lockdown on November 16 after a student reported seeing a social media post that might have indicated a threat of a weapon on campus, the school’s communications director said in an email sent to parents. An investigation found no threat at the school.
  2. The Chicago Sun-Times also reported a bomb threat at Churchill Elementary in west-suburban Glen Ellyn on November 16. The school was evacuated at 8:55 AM, according to a statement on the Glen Ellyn School District 41 website, but the threat was deemed not credible.
  3. A group of 22 students from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood returned home from Paris on November 16, instead of staying for another week as they had originally planned. They arrived in Paris in the morning of Friday, November 13, but decided to cut their trip short after the terrorist attacks in that city left 129 confirmed dead and more than 300 people injured. They were in Paris as part of a foreign-exchange program for a 10-day tour that included planned visits to farms and French high schools, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “Our teachers told us to grab our passports and our shoes,” the Chicago Tribune quoted one senior as saying after she was safe in Chicago.
  4. A truancy liaison at East Aurora High School was charged with having improper contact with two students while he was working for the school district. Jose Corona, 31, was charged with six counts of criminal sexual assault, a class 1 felony, and one count of battery, a class A misdemeanor, the Chicago Tribune reports. Mr Corona isn’t a certified teacher, but he did hold a position of trust as a school employee. The age of consent is automatically 18 in those cases.
  5. Graffiti in the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms at Kaneland High School in Maple Park was discovered about a week after the school advised parents to be on alert for potential threats to school security, the Chicago Tribune reports. “These markings range from expletives to explicit drawings to threats similar to those that we communicated with you about last week,” Superintendent Todd Leden said in a message to families. “This causes significant damage to property and also causes a major disruption to the learning environment.”
  6. Batavia High School and a nearby elementary school were placed on soft lockdown on November 10 as a “despondent” man refused to leave his Batavia home, the Chicago Tribune reports. He was taken into custody, without incident, at about 8:30 PM, and students weren’t in any danger.
  7. Police say four students at O’Fallon Township High School were arrested and charged as juveniles with disorderly conduct on November 13. Three girls were fighting with each other, and a boy was fighting with a teacher, the Belleville News-Democrat reports.
  8. Police were called to West Aurora High School as a precaution on November 17 after a threat to school safety the day before, the Chicago Tribune reports. The threat, which had gone around on social media, was determined to be “completely unfounded,” according to Aurora Police Department spokesman Dan Ferrelli.

Mom adds another voice to the transgender question

  1. The mother of a transgender female student in Palatine-based high school District 211 spoke out about the school’s intention to hold its ground against a federal order that would require the school to allow the student to change and shower in the girls’ locker room as part of her participation on athletic teams at one of the schools in the district, the Associated Press reports. “There were times she was inconsolable and all we could do was hold her and tell her that we loved her and would continue to advocate on her behalf,” the mother wrote in comments published on the website of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the girl in a federal Title IX complaint.

Positive contributions

  1. The organizers of a fundraiser that was originally intended to help the family of Fox Lake police officer Charles Joseph Gliniewicz called off the event but, since they were unable to give back all the money and prizes that had been donated, simply changed the beneficiary of the event to Antioch Community High School. Jack Kielczynski told the Chicago Tribune that just two days before the November 6 fundraiser, the Lake County Major Crime Task Force announced that Gliniewicz had taken his own life, fearing that years of criminal activity would be discovered. “I think it was a very nice gesture to think of us,” Principal Bradford Hubbard said of the $1,000 check they received, adding that they’ve not yet decided how to use the funds. In addition to business classes developing advertising campaigns for the fundraiser, the school’s technology team worked out a plan to live stream the concert to one of Gliniewicz’s sons, who is serving in the Army and wouldn’t be able to attend in person.
  2. Students and staff at Plank Junior High in Oswego remembered their classmate, Isabella Erickson, 13, who died on July 4 in an ATV accident in a rural area near the capital of Springfield, the Aurora Beacon-News reports. Since the talented artist died over the summer, many students never got the chance for closure, and “We talk a lot about being a school community,” the paper quoted Principal Jim Martin as saying. “And she’s family.” Isabella was the first student Plank has lost in its 10-year history, he said.
  3. Leyden High School District 212 Superintendent Nick Polyak will soon be helping to build a new elementary school in the Dominican Republic, the Chicago Tribune reports. He announced that he was chosen as a superintendent to go on the Lifetouch Memory Mission to the Dominican Republic early next year, where he and about 50 volunteers will help build the new school. “The [American Association of School Administrators] gets to pick one superintendent from the country and send them … so they are asking me to go,” he told the board.
  4. Eureka College will produce and perform plays written by high school students from across the state, the Peoria Journal-Star reports. Performances will be at 7:30 PM, November 20 and 21, and admission is by freewill donation only:
    • Imaginary Friends and Other Odd Creatures by Emily Oldham of Champaign
    • Take the Money and Run by Jonah Rawitz of Buffalo Grove
    • All in Your Head and Brace Yourself, both by Julia Dirkes-Jacks of Hoffman Estates
    • Partners in Crime by Hannah Bond of Dunlap
    • That Awkward Prom Moment by Andrew Gray of Washington
    • Make a Difference by Marie Lynch, Tyler Bentley, and Mae Schuberth of Chicago
    • This is Not a Date by Jianna Lubotsky of Long Grove
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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