High school students tackle tough topics at workshop

News-DemocratOctober 8, 2013 

Close to four dozen female high school students from the metro-east gathered at Belleville East Saturday for a Youth to Youth workshop, sponsored by the Center for Racial Harmony in Belleville.

The teens from Belleville East and West, Governor French Academy in Belleville, Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville and O'Fallon Township High School spent the day talking about challenging topics including self-worth/self-esteem, racism and gender bias, and bullying and social media.

"I was so impressed with the students. They really got a lot out of it," said Paula Jones with Racial Harmony. "There were a lot of very sensitive topics they had to discuss, and they were all very mature about it."

Jones provided each of the participating schools a copy of the book, "Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I am?" by John Powell. Jones explained the theme of the book is, "If I tell you who I am, and you don't like who I am, it is all that I have."

"It's a small book that's packed full of wonderful things for kids to think about," she said.

The Center for Racial Harmony will host a Youth to Youth workshop for male high school students in January. Jones said the exact date is still being finalized. The third and final Youth to Youth program will be held in May, and both male and female students will be invited to attend.

For more information about the Youth to Youth program, visit its Facebook page at Center for Racial Harmony Presents: Youth to Youth 2013.

"We want the youth to continue to communicate and keep the dialogue going," Jones said. "It allows kids to talk to each other about these things that concern them."


The Living Independent Now Center Inc. recently honored local educators with awards. LINC is a disability service agency in St. Clair County.

Belleville School District 118 Superintendent Matt Klosterman was recognized as administrator of the year in St. Clair County. "I was honored to be recognized by an organization like LINC," Klosterman said.

Carol Root, director of Perandoe Special Education District in Red Bud, was the Administrator of the Year for Monroe and Randolph counties.

Tony Thompson won Teacher of the Year award. Thompson is a department chair/individualized education teacher for Belleville School District 201. Jeff Price, a special education teacher at Douglas Elementary School in Belleville, was honored as an Agent of Change.

LINC Youth and Family Service Supervisor Vicky Few said the awards were presented during LINC's annual dinner Sept. 19 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville. The winners were all selected by Few based on the work they do for the community.


More than 3,600 children from 28 schools in three different states will get to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield as the result of generous contributions by the Winnick Family Foundation.

The Winnick Family Foundation offered field trip grants through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation to grades fourth through 12 in public and private schools. To qualify, the schools must have a low-income enrollment of greater than 30 percent.

The following metro-east schools were awarded the grants: Central Junior High School in Belleville; Breese Elementary School; and Annette Officer Elementary School, Avant Elementary School, Dunbar Elementary School, East St. Louis Senior High School, Gordon Bush Elementary School, Katie Wright Elementary School, Mason/Clark and Lincoln middle schools and Tomorrow's Builders Charter School, all in East St. Louis.

The grants provide funding to visit the Presidential Museum at no or reduced cost by deferring the cost of transportation, lunch or educational materials. Groups receiving a grant do not pay a museum admission fee.


The Bob Emig Foundation is once again partnering with Father McGivney Catholic High School to host its fourth annual Halloween 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, Oct. 26 to benefit the athletics program at Father McGivney. This fun-filled family event will be held at Father McGivney Catholic High School on the campus of St. John Neumann Catholic School in Maryville. Awards will be given out to the top three male and female runners and the top three places in eight-age categories. Food, drinks, music and a raffle will follow the run. The deadline for early registration is Friday. For registration and sponsorship information, visit http://www.McGivneyGriffins.com or contact David Michael at 855- 9010 or david.michael@mcgivneygriffins.com.


Smithton School District 130 school board will swear in its newest member Brian Lester at its regular board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15. Lester, 41, is filling the spot vacated by Michelle Held, who moved outside of the district boundaries. He will serve on the school board until Held's term expires in the spring of 2015.

Lester works for Nestle Purina PetCare in St. Louis as a brand director. He, his wife Amy and their three children live in Smithton.


The O'Fallon Police Department Explorer Post is holding an informational meeting for new members at 6 p.m. Oct. 17 at the O'Fallon Police Department.

The Explorer Post is a way for teens to get experience and training for careers in law enforcement and emergency medical services. Prospective members must be high school or college students, ages 14-20 and reside in the O'Fallon Township High School District 203.

For more information, contact Officer Diane Coppotelli at dcoppotelli@ofallon.org or 624-4545.

Do you have an item for Education Matters or an education-related story tip? We want to know about it. Send your ideas to Jamie Forsythe at education@bnd.com or call 618-239-2562. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BND_JForsythe.

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