Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner got a first-hand look at Homewood-Flossmoor High School’s outstanding arts programs on Friday. At every stop on his visit he cheered “Go Vikings!” and gave congratulations to students and teachers for their outstanding work.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner got a first-hand look at Homewood-Flossmoor High School’s outstanding arts programs on Friday.
At every stop on his visit he cheered “Go Vikings!” and gave congratulations to students and teachers for their outstanding work.
The governor’s visit to H-F fulfilled a promise he made to winners of an online video contest in March hosted by his office. H-F’s video spotlighted the work of fine arts students and was selected as one of the top five videos on education selected from more than 100 statewide entries.
At 1 p.m. the governor arrived to musical selections performed by the Viking Orchestra directed by teacher B.J. Engrav. He was greeted by Superintendent Von Mansfield, school board members Steve Anderson, Annette Bannon and Jody Scariano and school administrators.
Then he moved into the auditorium to hear student Joy Woods perform a selection from the musical “Hamilton” accompanied by James Rhyne on piano.
“You have one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard!” he told the H-F junior. “I hope I see you on Broadway one day.”
Then his tour guides, seniors Malik Sims and Gianmarco Petrelli, led him to the sight of H-F’s newest public art project, a mirrored obelisk now under construction.
Rauner got to do his part in its creation. He donned safety glasses and gloves provided by teacher Greg Petecki before taking a hammer and shattering a piece of mirrored glass. The small pieces will be set in place on the obelisk frame next week.
As the governor moved through the South Building he stopped to shake hands and take pictures with office and book store staff, security guards and a few students.
A studio audience gave him a rousing welcome as he entered the Viking TV facilities where senior Keithina Montgomery waited on the set to conduct an interview focusing on education funding and arts programs.
“The energy of the students, the enthusiasm of the teachers (at H-F) is very infectious,” he told the students. “I’m very excited. Homewood-Flossmoor has a wonderful reputation all around Illinois and the country.”
Rauner said education is his number one priority and boasted the first year of his term school funding went up by $750 million. Illinois needs to change its school funding formula to provide more money to needy districts, he said.
He proposes allowing teachers to set curricula that works for them and their students and said he wants to get rid of unfunded mandates. He got the audience to give a round of applause to teachers, whom he said have one of the hardest jobs – after parenting.
As he left, students in the hallway crowded around him and he obliged with a group selfie.
Next stop was teacher Jackie Wargo’s Arts I class where students were doing self-portraits. The governor applauded them for their talent and creativity.
Then it was outside for a walk down the path leading to the North Building. The walkway was lined with members of the H-F Viking Band who played for the governor. As he continued on, student outdoor sculpture projects were pointed out to him.
His last stop was the entrance hall to North Building where he viewed a display of winning art pieces selected in an Illinois Art Education Association contest, including three pieces by H-F students. The works will be on display through the month.
One more group photo and the 60-minute visit came to an end.
“From meeting him at H-F and his support of all the fine arts it’s really impressive to see that he’s interested in education and fine arts, all the programs we do at Homewood-Flossmoor and what the art community is doing on the state level,” Gianmarco, his tour guide, said.
Fellow graduating senior Malik said he enjoyed the personal interactions with the governor.
“It seemed like the passion, the facial expressions and emotions he portrays on the different topics show the passion, the will, the desire he actually has to (improve) things in Chicago,” he said.