Whiteside presents honorary diploma to family of deceased student

News-DemocratMay 14, 2013 

The family of Amari Clark, a 12-year-old girl killed in a car crash in April 2011, will be presented with an honorary eighth grade diploma during Whiteside Middle School's eighth grade graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday. Amari was a sixth grade student at Whiteside at the time of the crash, and Friday would have been her eighth grade graduation.

"The students in the class wanted to do something to honor and serve as a remembrance of Amari," said Whiteside Superintendent Peggy Burke. "I was very impressed the students thought of that."

Amari's grandmother A.Y. Bowers and mother Apryl Sherrod will accept the diploma on Amari's behalf.

"It means the world to her mom, Apryl, and myself," Bowers said. "She's getting her reward for the work she did."

"It totally took me by surprise to know people still care, and they are showing their love " Sherrod said. "I think it's great that they are honoring her and still remember her."

Sherrod described her daughter as a "people's person. She was friends with everyone," she said. "She was always willing to go the extra mile to help whoever she could.

Bowers said her granddaughter Amari was "determined to learn" and wanted to pursue a college degree after high school. Sherrod said Amari wanted to go to college and study interior design. "She loved learning and loved music," she said. Amari played the clarinet.

"She was a blessing to me," Sherrod said. "She was definitely an angel in disguise."

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Technology will be in the hands of more students at Cathedral Catholic Grade School in Belleville next school year. Principal Linda Hobbs said the school purchased 20 Nabi tablets and 30 Kindle e-readers for the students.

"We were trying to find ways to bring more technology into the classrooms," Hobbs said.

She explained the Nabi tablets will be used by the younger students, 3 years old to kindergartners, and the Kindles will be used by the first- through fourth-graders. The fifth- through eighth-graders use laptops.

Like the laptops, the Nabi tablets and Kindles will be stored on mobile carts that will be transported between classes, Hobbs said.

The Nabis and Kindles were purchased through donations made at the school's annual dinner auction in March. Hobbs said the cost for the 20 Nabis and 30 Kindles was about $7,000.

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Belleville West is holding a book signing and fundraiser at 5 p.m. Thursday in the school's library for Belleville West alumnus, attorney and author Eric Schwalb. He will discuss the legacy of his parents' scholarship fund, as well as share insights about and sign his new legal thriller, "The East Side." Adult tickets are $20 and include a signed copy of the book and after-event reception at Fletcher's Kitchen and Tap in Belleville. Students are free. All proceeds from ticket sales will go toward the Margaret A. and David Schwalb Memorial Scholarship. For more information, contact Eric Schwalb at 314-394-0128 or ericschwalb@aim.com.

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The St. Clair County Juvenile Justice Council Truancy Subcommittee presented awards to the winners of the Anti-Truancy Poster Contest during a ceremony Tuesday at the St. Clair County Courthouse in Belleville. The middle-school level winners were: first place Vergal Williams, an eighth-grader at Mason-Clark Middle School in East St. Louis; runner-up Corlynda Graham, a seventh-grader at Mason-Clark; and honorable mention Cris Yates, an eighth-grader at Mason-Clark. The high school level winners were: first place Michael Holdman, a senior at Belleville West High School; and Dominic Thuis, a junior at Belleville West. Metro-Transit will display copies of the first place contest winner's artwork on advertisements on Metro buses and MetroLink train cars throughout the region.

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering received a grant valued at nearly $830,000 from the National Science Foundation. "Graduate 10K+" is a special funding mechanism within NSF's STEM Talent Expansion Program. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The focus is on creative approaches to retaining undergraduates in engineering and computer science during the first two years of college. The SIUE project is titled "Student Teams Engaging Peers for Undergraduate Progress (STEP-UP)" and addresses pre-calculus and calculus retention for engineering students.

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Marcie Young of C.A. Henning Elementary School in Troy is the Green School Coordinator of the Year award recipient. Young received a $500 check from Waste Management for her recycling efforts during a May 9 award's ceremony. Numerous staff members and students nominated Young for the award. The Planning and Development Committee of the Madison County Board selected her as the final winner. The Green School Coordinator of the Year award is sponsored in part by Waste Management.

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student Jessica Thompson, a 2009 Triad High School graduate from Troy, was selected to speak on behalf of the graduating class at the May 4 commencement. To be selected for this honor, students must not only demonstrate academic success, they must also exemplify the values of SIUE. Thompson received her bachelor of science in industrial engineering.

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The Fayco Foundation, a charity organization dedicated to improving the lives of developmentally disabled people, will present an evening with Temple Grandin at 6 p.m. May 23 at Greenville College in Greenville. Grandin, an American doctor of animal science, is an accomplished author and speaker with autism. Tickets are $45 per person and available at www.fayco.org.

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