Local News

District 153 recognizes outstanding student efforts

Members of the District 153 school board took time to recognize outstanding volunteers at Willow and Churchill Schools.

At the April 11 board meeting, students representing the Young Athletes Program at Willow, members of the Churchill Student Council and the James Hart School eighth grade volleyball team were honored for their achievements.

Selected Willow School second graders are working with special needs students on athletic activities that can help prepare them for future competitions with Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Willow School Young Athletes peer partners Grace Garland and Taryn Welsh were joined by teachers (second row, from left) Colleen Spain, Kendra Duncan and Patti Jo Boehm as they were honored by District 153 for their work with Young Athletes. Joining them are (from left, back row) Superintendent Scott McAlister, and board members Shelly Marks, Alex Bosch, Ron Zinnerman, Ashanti Bethea and Jim Schmidt. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

In Willow’s Young Athletes Program offered after school, second grade peer partners come together with the special needs students to help and encourage them to learn different skills, such as balancing, running, throwing and getting through an obstacle course. It’s a precursor to being part of Special Olympics, said teacher Kendra Duncan.

The Young Athletes Program has kids “coming together as a team and educating peer partners on why the (special needs students) do certain things,” said Duncan. “We practice and the hope is once the kids move to third grade at Churchill School then they can become real Special Olympians.”

Willow has been selected a Unified Champion School by the Special Olympics organization after getting kids involved in the Youth Athletes Program the past five years. Administrators hope in the future more activities can be offered to involve Willow students at all levels kindergarten through second grade.

School board members applauded the Student Council at Churchill School for their outreach to caring agencies in the community. The student council members represent each third, fourth and fifth grade class at Churchill.

Churchill School Student Council representatives (front row, from left) Blake Rutherford, Blake Palaggi, Nia Branham and Shayla Callicut and their teachers and Student Council sponsors (standing from left) Laura Kozel and Marisa Alborn with Principal Sara Schnoor are congratulated on their community efforts by District 153 Superintendent Scott McAllister and school board members Alex Bosch, Shelly Marks, Ashanti Bethea and Jim Schmidt. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

The students collected items for the South Suburban Humane Society, and they held two fundraisers to collect money for Anew: Building Beyond Violence and Abuse, serving victims of domestic violence. Principal Sarah Schnoor said the Student Council also led students in several spirit day events.

James Hart’s eighth grade volleyball team was recognized for making it to the state finals. The team was among the top eight teams in the state. They were coached this season by teachers Katie Nigro and Chelsea Jones.

Team members are Angelena Alborn, Kylie Blasgen, Alayna Frangella, Macy Hamer, Quinn Hanna, Dakota Hoekstra, Anika Izenbart, Paige Taylor, Isabella Thurman, Cyanna Wasniowski and Addison Woodward.

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