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Arthur Board of Education to seek bids to repair school parking lots

ALAH Science teacher Chantell Benedict assists school board member Kristie Mechling with the Oculus that the anatomy class has been using this quarter at last weeks school board meeting.ALAH student Claire Seal assists school board member Brock Casteel with the Oculus that the anatomy class has been using this quarter at last weeks school board meeting.

Winning bid awarded to Midwest Track Builders for high school track repair

Staff Writer

Superintendent Cheek spoke with members of the board of education about the school parking lots and their condition at the most recent meeting held on Wednesday, March 15. What originally he thought would be a simple fix at the Atwood-Hammond Grade School will actually be much more of a significant repair after a closer look. The area near the playground and east lot where most people usually park is estimated to be around $61,000. Cheek also said the staff area parking lot was estimated to be a bit lower at just $10,500. He feels that the parking lots at the Atwood-Hammond Grade School are in need of some major repair and by doing so, could extend their life much longer. The ALAH High School parking lot is also not in the best condition, but Cheek said it could get by another year by just simply filling in some of the cracks and holes. The Arthur Grade School’s parking lot east of the building has been estimated to be at $43,000. The board approved Cheek to move forward and seek bids. He informed the board that it may not be a reality that all three parking lots could be repaired.

Along with the parking lots at the district schools being in need of repair, the high school track is also in need of some care. The original estimate to fix the track was around $160-$165,000. There was only one bid which came from Midwest Track Builders. Their bid was $170,000 which would take care of filling some cracks and potentially putting in a new surface and paint. They did mention that the surface below the track still seems to be in pretty good shape. The repairs would take place during the summer. Board members approved the bid from Midwest Track Builders.

Even though some high costs of upcoming projects were definitely the top concerns at the board meeting, Claire Seal a student in Mrs. Benedict’s anatomy class, shared some of the latest technology of how they are learning about the muscular system by using an Oculus – a virtual reality system. Being that it uses VR (virtual reality), this provides a more immersive experience for those who use it. The students even assisted a few of those who were interested in using an Oculus so that they could experience learning about muscles as they had been doing the past quarter. It is just another example of how technology is aiding in learning and making a difference in how students see and experience the world around them. The Oculus for Mrs. Benedict’s science classes was purchased with funds from the Timm Trust.

After having some fun learning from one student in Mrs. Benedicts’s class and I.T. director Mark Smith, Cheek, shared information about the latest information in transportation payments. As usual, the district is still only receiving about three of the four payments that are owed. Although, now they are only getting 70% of what is owed instead of the full amount. During Covid, because many were out of school, most districts were getting the 100%, but now that everyone is back in school, the state is back not sending the entire amount that is owed.

While it was concerning to hear about the transportation payments, Cheek did share some positive news about the district receiving some very nice donations recently. The Knights Youth Sports Association donated $5,000 to go towards the purchase of new nets for volleyball. The athletic booster club donated $1,117.65 for new baseball uniforms and M and M Farm Service donated $500 to support the bass fishing team.

In the Superintendent Report, Cheek went over his district communication plan. He has been compiling examples of other district plans and is in the works of creating a survey that will go to the parents, students, community and staff. He hopes to have it completed by the end of the school year. Cheek also stated that they have been interviewing for the Director of Maintenance position. Interviews were started last Monday and finished up on Tuesday. There were a total of seven interviews. Cheek said he was excited about the pool of applicants that were available.

Other business that the board discussed included approving the renewal of the IHSA Membership for the 2023-2024 school year and a swim co-op with Sullivan and Shelbyville was approved for some students who were interested. The contract is a two-year agreement. The sale of the old gym scoreboard was also approved to the winning bidder. Cheek also informed the board that athletic director Nathan Seal had actively pursued two schools with the idea of forming a soccer co-op but they were not interested. He said that the district would continue to discuss and strategize as they moved forward.

The Treasurer’s report was approved with the February 2023 bank statement balance being $1,092,770.03 and the total of all funds were $11,547,824.89.

As Cheek wrapped up the public portion of the board meeting, he wanted to give thanks to the Athletic Boosters for their continued support and putting on Glow Binga which turned out to be a great event that took hours to organize. He also wanted to reach out to the Education Foundation for their efforts and support and remind everyone how they also have offered staff grant opportunities and scholarships to students. Last of all, he wanted to thank the staff for their continued dedication this year to both students and communities.

Personnel Report
March 15, 2023

•Accept letter of resignation from Megan Beckmier as the Ag Teacher and FFA Advisor

•Recommend for hire, Camryn Thrasher, Special Education at AHGS replacing long term substitute.

•Recommend for hire, Hannah Tappendorf, replacing Megan Beckmier as Ag teacher for the high school.


•Recommend for hire, Whitney Stodden as a paraprofessional replacing Sara Rawlins.

•Accept letter of resignation from Sara Rawlins as a paraprofessional at AHGS


•Recommend for hire, Chrissy Patterson AHGS Scholastic Bowl

•Recommend Logan Brough for a volunteer position with the baseball team

•Recommend Nick Miller for a volunteer position with the baseball team

Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond High School Principal’s Report

1. Our agriculture classes collaborate on many projects throughout our high school. For example, Horticulture class has started growing flowers for the school flower beds and planters for graduation. The greenhouse is full once again. Also, Ag Mech class is starting their spring project. They are fabricating frames for new lifting platforms for the weight room. Grant money won by Coach Wilson is paying for the materials and powder coating.

2. At our recent IHSA Solo and Ensemble contest, all entries earned first place.
Congratulations to Izabella Danford, Chloe Custer, Sara Rogers, Kylie Stutzman, Angelina Davis Kearns and Miah Malin. A Best of Day Award Certificate was presented to Miah Malin in recognition of the most superior musical performance heard that day by a judge.

Don’t forget that DESSERT THEATRE is Saturday, April 1 at 7:00 pm.

3. The ALAH Drama Club held their performance of The Three Musketeers on March 10 and 11. Drama club advisor this year is Spanish teacher Faith Rund. Performances will be at 7 p.m. on both evenings. In preparation for the play, our student actors worked with Cole Hintz from Millikin University’s Theater Department regarding on stage combat (how to safely fight with each other, making sure that no one gets hurt, etc.) He also helped choreograph the fights along with an independent stage fight director, Catt Chrastka, from the Champaign and Chicago local theater companies. Costumes were hand sewn by our very own Drama club sponsor Ms. Faith Rund and borrowed from the Monticello Madrigals. Mr. Kessler and his construction class helped build and set up the walls for the set.

4. Mrs. Voegel, her FCA students and FCCLA club members have had a busy month.

○ Six FCCLA members & Mrs. Voegel attended the FCCLA Section 7 Conference in Charleston in Mid-February. While attending the conference sophomore Perla Juarez-Cuevas, was elected a member of the 2023-2024 Section 7 Officer team. Her term begins immediately and will last through February 2024.

○ FCCLA members & FCS students decorated heart door hangers as a “Make a Difference” activity in February for all residents at Arthur Home & Eberhardt Village

○ Child Development and Foundations of Teaching students have in the last 2 weeks all been trained and certified in “SIDS” and “Shaken Baby Syndrome” by Vicky Foster at the Child Resource & Referral. Students earned a certificate for this work.

5. All 14 students in the Construction Skills class have completed the 10 Hour OSHA Training Course. This gives them a certification card showing completion of the course and the card never expires. This was in connection with the Eastern Illinois Education for Employment System.

6. Our National Honors Society chose Special Olympics as their second semester service project. On Saturday, March 11th the current and newly announced members will participate in the polar plunge in Mahomet. Students raised over $1500 to donate to special olympics.

7. Each semester our Leadership Class is required to plan and implement an all school activity or event. Previous classes have led all school projects including Dig Pink Week and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. This semester they are planning a ‘How To’ series once a week. They have gathered information from the student body to ask what things they would like to learn. Their first ‘How To’ was teaching students to make a grilled cheese sandwich and it was a huge success.

Upcoming Dates:

March 20 -24 Spring Break

April 1 – Dessert theater

April 2 – NHS Induction

April 7 – No School

April 12 – PSAT 9, PSAT 10, SAT and Senior Etiquette Workshop

April 13 – Juniors take state science assessment

April 13 – SIP, 1:00 Dismissal

Arthur Grade School Principal’s Report

Spelling Bee: Cameron McGill competed in the Regional Spelling Bee in Decatur this last Saturday, March 11 at Richland Community College. We are very proud of him for his 4th place finish, his accomplishments, and we enjoyed cheering him on during this competition.

IAR Testing: It is the season for state testing and AGS is preparing for the opportunity to show our growth and hard work throughout the year. Students will test April 3 – 7. This will include 5 tests for most grade levels and 8 tests for our 5th and 8th graders. Students begin to take the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) in 3rd grade. If you see any of our students that week, please root them on.

Kindergarten Registration: Arthur Grade School is excited to meet all of our incoming Kindergarteners. AGS’s pre-registration for kindergarten students is now open for the 2022-2023 school year until April 15. Please come by the school to pick up a Kindergarten packet or call to register your student (a packet will be mailed to you.) The office staff can be reached anytime from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm at 217-543-2109 with any questions. Go, Knights!

8th Grade Promotion: The 8th-grade graduation is scheduled for May 25 at 7 pm at the ALAH football field.

Knightly Reading Challenge: March is a busy month in the library! We kicked off March Book Madness. Sixteen books from each category (picture book, middle grades & young adult) are placed in brackets and are voted on by our students, as well as students from across the US. This is a great way to introduce students to books they may not be aware of.

Students in K-3 who read at least 5 of the Monarch award nominee books were invited to a Monarch and Marshmallows party where they enjoyed peeps marshmallows and book bingo.

Students in 3-5 who read at least 4 of the Bluestem award nominee books were invited to a Bluestem and Brownies party where they enjoyed brownies and book trivia.

Students in 5-8 grade who read at least 3 of the Caudill award nominee books will be invited to a Cupcakes and Caudill party next week.

Last Friday, we kicked off the district Family Literacy Event. As a district, K-6 students and their families are reading the book Mouse on a Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. Each of the grade schools was able to enjoy a motorcycle parade on Friday. Every family has received a copy of the book as well as related activities to do at home. This year we added more community involvement. Ralph, the mouse has been spotted at several local businesses. You can see where he has been, at this link and at the picture above.

Extra copies of the book can also be found in these businesses, so community members can join us in reading. Many activities have been planned at the schools as well, including hidden mice, mice facts research, contests, a movie, and more!

4th and 5th-grade Musical Performance: The Arthur Grade School 4th & 5th Grade Classes will present the Musical “The Best Little Theater in Town” on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at 2:00 p.m The musical will be presented in the old gym at ALAH High School. You are invited to attend.

Scholastic Bowl: The AGS Scholastic bowl has begun with 9 students who are studying hard. Our meets are beginning and students are excited about the opportunity. Thank you to Ms. Bracken for her work with our students in preparing them for the competitions.

Important Dates:

March 20-25 – Spring Break

April 13 – SIP Day

April 7 – Good Friday (No School)

Atwood-Hammond Grade School Principal’s Report

$mart Family Night at AHGS: On Friday, February 17, AHGS hosted a Financial Fun Fair at the school. This event, in conjunction with Indiana State University, AGS and ALAH High School was a free math-themed event, with multiple booths and interactive displays all based around and using play money. From skits, to shopping in a store, to making sure you get the correct change at a concession stand. Students won prizes, candy, popcorn, and a small meal including hot dog, chips and bottled water, was provided for everyone attending, all for free. Students and parents learned how to be smart with money and had some fun while they were here.

Officer Bross Celebration: AHGS declared Friday, February 23 as Officer Bross Day! On Thursday, February 23, Mr. Forman, the principal at Atwood-Hammond Grade School declared the day Officer Bross day. The students dressed as police officers and we had a surprise assembly where we showed Officer Bross all of the love and appreciation that we have had for him over these last twelve years. Several student groups and teachers presented him with sayings, poems, and a survival kit for his new job. Also, members of the Arthur, Lovington, Atwood, Hammond administration and board were in attendance. The AHGS faculty also provided a potluck lunch, and Officer Bross was able to enjoy each lunch hour with the teachers and students. Officer Bross has meant so much to our school and community. We thought this was a fitting way to send him off to his new adventure.

Books, Books, Books: Read Across America Week was the week of February 27 through March 3. Students and teachers participated in dress up days, such as dress like your favorite book character and pajama day, where we “dropped everything and read” together. Students also were able to “meet” real mice, brought in by an AHGS parent, Kellan Croy’s dad Richard, who works at a pet store. Students also received their books from our book drive that week. Friday was our kick-off for the reading event for the district. Students were able to go outside and watch as mice on motorcycles drove by the school to celebrate our book, The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

Chrissy Patterson wins Eastern Illinois Electrical Co-Op Grant: Congratulations to our own Chrissy Patterson on winning the Eastern Illini Electric Co-op Grant! $500.00 for our school’s Knightly Reading Literacy Event. Way to go Mrs. Patterson!

Lovington Grade School Principal’s Report

We celebrated Read Across America week with guest readers, book blast book reveal, dress like your favorite character day, kicking off our family reading program with a motorcycle drive by, and a”Drop everything and read” time where our older students read to our younger students! Our guest readers included community leaders such as Mr. Cheek, Officer Swisher, Mrs. Franklin from Shawnee, Mrs. Duncan from the bank, Mrs. Martina from the elevator, and Ms. Newberry from the library.

Dr. Gobbo was awarded the Empowering education Grant to restore some of the weathered and well loved instruments in Atwood and Lovington. He was one of four of our staff members to win this grant! (Melissa Hopkins- for Lego Spike Prime, Mitch Wilson- for weight room improvements, and Chrissy Patterson- for Knightly Reading

We continue to have tremendous growth here in our math and reading learning. On our last data day we saw 21 students K-8 move up in Tiers in Reading and 24 in Math!

Our first graders had a PJ and donut party after they filled this heart with loving actions!

We had our Jump Rope for Heart Kickoff with Mr. Kirkwood and the American Heart Association! It will last the entire month of March.

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