June 3, 2014

O'Fallon's Panthers take New York City

The O'Fallon Township High School band, color guard and choir wrapped up the school year by getting on buses and traveling 17 hours to New York City.

The Marching Panthers participated in the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, and the band and choir performed at the world-renowned Carnegie Hall.

When rehearsals and performances weren't on the agenda, the group put their instruments down and did some sightseeing, including checking out Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock, the American Museum of Natural History, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, Battery Park, the 9/11 Memorial, taking Manhattan's Television and Movie Tour and seeing the Broadway musical Newsies.

"These kids have worked so hard in the OTHS music program. They absolutely deserve the opportunity to perform on one of the best stages in the world and the treat of taking in the sights and education New York City has to offer," said band director Melissa Gustafson-Hinds.

The band traveled to New York with 300 students, staff and fans, in six chartered buses May 24, and departed from New York May 28.

The next Marching Panthers' event is the O'Town 5th of July Block Party, to be held at O'Fallon Community Park Saturday, July 5. The block party, which runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., will raise funds for the band's next big trip, which will take them to Pasadena, Calif., where the band has been invited to participate in the Rose Bowl's Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day 2015. Only 18 bands from around the world were invited to participate.


A benefit chicken and beverage dance for former Collinsville High School teacher Theresa Rasp will be held Saturday at the Collinsville VFW. The cost is $20 in advance or $25 at the door. All proceeds will benefit Theresa Rasp, who has Stage 4 Colo-rectal cancer. For more information, e-mail


The Cory Wilson Scholarship Association is hosting its 5th Annual Golf Scramble on Saturday at The Orchard's Golf Club in Belleville. The association was founded in honor of the late Cory Wilson, the 27-year-old Collinsville native was killed at his place of employment, ABB, in St. Louis, on Jan. 7, 2010.

To carry on Cory's passion for education and football, the association offers scholarships to area youths as well as contribute to youth organizations. It also hosts a free football camp for children ages 5-12 that is held at the Cory Wilson Memorial Field in Collinsville. For more information, visit


Collinsville resident Rob Dorman, the father of a gifted student, has been appointed to serve on the Illinois State Board of Education's Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children. The council advises the state superintendent of education on all rules and policies to be adopted by the State Board of Education relating to the education of gifted and talented children. Dorman is inviting teachers and parents of gifted children to a meeting at noon Monday at Culver's Restaurant, located at 100 United Dr. in Collinsville. For more information, contact Dorman at or 618-344-3375.


Jewleah Heck, an eighth-grader at High Mount School in Swansea, was selected as the first-place winner in the statewide competition for the Illinois Children's Mental Health poster contest. She received $250 and her artwork will be on the cover of the 2014-2015 mental health awareness calendar to be distributed throughout the state.


The Parish Life Committee of St. Henry Catholic Church in Belleville has selected Patrick Ahrens, an eighth-grade graduate of Our Lady Queen of Peace School in Belleville, to receive the Ella Prickett Memorial Scholarship for attendance at Althoff Catholic High School for the 2014-2015 school year.

The Ella Prickett Memorial Scholarship is a renewable scholarship in the amount of $1,500 and was established in memory of Ella Prickett, a St. Henry Parishioner who died at age 8 from a rare form of pediatric cancer. The scholarship selection was based on academic standards as well as involvement in extra-curricular activities, community service and written essay about the importance to the applicant of attending Althoff Catholic High School.


Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Waterloo held its annual awards' night on May 20. Students were recognized for their scholastic achievements, such as outstanding student in each academic subject and top Accelerated Reader students, as well as athletic achievements.

In addition, each junior high teacher recognized one junior student with a Fabulous Falcon Award. These awards are given based on the following qualities: character, attitude, service and academics.

This year's Fabulous Falcon awards were given to Joe Busch, son of Tony and Tara Busch; Brennan LaCroix, son of Brad and Emily LaCroix; Sydney Wiegand, daughter of Michael and Suzanne Wiegand; Aaron Grohmann, son of Ryan and Dawn Grohmann; Sierra Mertz, daughter of Martin and Angela Mertz; Nicole Kreher, daughter of Ruben and Dawn Kreher; Katelyn Wilson, daughter of Jeff and Amy Wilson; and Ashlyn Wightman, daughter of Steve and Donita Wightman.

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 or call 618-239-2562. Follow her on Twitter at @BND_JForsythe.

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