Highland News Leader

New associate principal, athletic director named at Highland High School

Meet the new associate principal at Highland High School

The Highland School Board approved Caleb Houchins as the new associate principal at Highland High School. Currently, Houchins works as the school’s assistant principal/athletic director.
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The Highland School Board approved Caleb Houchins as the new associate principal at Highland High School. Currently, Houchins works as the school’s assistant principal/athletic director.

The Highland School Board approved a new associate high school principal as well as a new assistant principal/athletic director at HHS during its Highland meeting Feb. 26.

Superintendent Mike Sutton announced that Caleb Houchins will be the school's new associate principal, starting July 1.

Amy Boscolo, currently an assistant principal in Rantoul, Illinois, will take over Houchin's current position as assistant principal and athletic director, Sutton said.

"I just want to say that we are extremely excited about the additions to our leadership team at HHS," Sutton said.

Houchins take over the role currently occupied by Dr. Chris Becker, who was promoted last month. Becker will be the new HHS principal when Dr. Karen Gauen retires at the end of the year.

In an email to HHS faculty and staff, Becker said that Houchins and Boscolo are both "dynamic, passionate, and skilled leaders, who enjoy working with students, faculty, and the community."

"The new administrative team, just like our current team, will do its best to lead, guide, and support all stakeholders to maintain the high standard of excellence that exists at Highland High," Becker said.

Houchins, who has worked for the district since 2004, said he is looking forward to being more involved with the school's curriculum and staff development. He said he will continue to be a resource for the new athletic director and will be there to help her through the transition.

"I feel very fortunate that I work in a district where we offer so much to our students," Houchins said.

Houchins said this will be the first time in his 17-year career that he has not been involved in athletics. But he said his engagement with student extracurricular activities will never end.

“I’m going to still be out there rooting them on and cheering for them," Houchins said.

About Boscolo

Boscolo currently serves as the assistant principal at Eater Junior High in Rantoul, a position she has held for the past three years.

When she first went through the interview process, Boscolo was applying for the job Houchins will fill. But during the interview, she mentioned it was her dream job to be an athletic director, which then turned some heads in the room. Sutton said that her passion experience made her a top candidate for the position.

"We really liked what she had to say and some of her vision for what the athletic department could be," Sutton said.

Boscolo graduated from Illinois State University with a bachelor's in athletic training and exercise science in 2000.

The Highland School Board approved Amy Boscolo as the new assistant principal/athletic director at Highland High School. Boscolo is coming to the district from Rantoul City Schools.

In 2003, she obtained her teaching credentials from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. From 2003 to 2005, Boscolo taught physical education at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville. During this time, she also coached track and field and was as assistant athletic trainer.

In 2005, Bosocolo moved her career to Urbana High School in Urbana, Illinois. For the next 10 years, she taught P.E. and became the head coach of girls track and field, assistant to the basketball coach and a class sponsor. Then in 2015, Boscolo assumed the role of assistant principal at J. W. Eater Junior High School. Boscolo also holds an athletic training license and works as a PRN nurse at Gibson Area Hospital.

In her new position, Bosocolo said she will work tirelessly to drive student excellence.

"I promise to uphold the tradition of excellence that has been seen throughout Highland High School athletics and activities," Boscolo said.

Besides a fresh start, she said she is excited to get to know the students staff and the Highland community.

"I am blessed to be given an opportunity to live my dream in Highland," Boscolo said.

Asbestos removal

The board approved more than $200,000 in asbestos removal at Highland Elementary.

The board approved contracts for two projects, one to remove asbestos flooring at the school and the other to replace it.

A bid of $78,778 was awarded to Talbert ICS Inc. of Maryland Heights, Mo., to remove asbestos flooring and mastic from the classroom areas on the second floor and main floor. Talbert was the lowest of eight bidders and was recommended by the district's asbestos abatement consultant, Farmer Enviromental Services LLC of Edwardsville.

To replace the flooring, the board approved a $123,335 bid from Desco Flooring, which had the low bid of three submitted. The floor will be poured surface flooring, which the district also did last year with other similar floor replacements. The floor has been durable and easier to maintain, according to district maintenance staff.

The base bid only included leveling and sealing of the concrete floor in the art room. The board also accepted an $8,781 alternative bid to epoxy the new floor in the art room.

In addition to flooring, the board also approved some roof work to be completed, per the district's facilities plan. These include the two-story section of Highland Elementary, as well as the gym roofs at Highland Elementary, Highland Primary and Grantfork Elementary. The work at all buildings will total $400,866. There were seven bidders for the work. Joiner Sheet Metal & Roofing was the low bidder.

More teachers receive National Board certification

Before the meeting, the board held a reception for National Board certificated.

New National Board certificated teachers in the district are Colleen Baker, Highland Primary music teacher; Dawn Bruno, HMS language arts teacher; Dawn Hubbard, HMS geography teacher; Brent James, HHS math teacher; and Dawn Jones, HHS family and consumer science teacher.

Teachers who were re-certified were Kelly Coziar, HMS math teacher; Dr. Karen Gauen, HHS principal; and Katie Kellerstrass, Highland Primary second-grade teacher.

Board approves personnel moves

The board approved the resignations of Glenn Goforth, special education teacher at Highland High School,(effective the end of the 2018/2019 school year, and Gentry Herlitz Fifer, assistant spring musical director at Highland High School.

The board approved the following new employees for this year:

  • Suzana Kostanjsek, custodian at Highland Primary, effective March 1;

  • Tyler Jewell, assistant spring musical director, Highland High School;

  • Grant Geppert, volunteer baseball coach at Highland High School; and

  • Kelly Fulton, volunteer dance team coach at Highland High School.

The board also approved the the following new employees for the 2018/2019 school year:



  • Melissa Doherty, kindergarten teacher at Highland Primary;

  • Carrie Warnecke, fourth-grade teacher at Grantfork Elementary;

  • Kelsey Huson, English teacher Highland High School; and

  • Sarah Ruder, English teacher at Highland High School .

Change of assignments were approved for:

Marissa Weiss, from a reading aide at Highland Primary and Alhambra Primary to a fourth-grade teacher at Grantfork Elementary, effective for the 2018/2019 school year;



  • Herschel Austin, from day custodian at Grantfork Elementary to district utility, effective Feb. 5, 2018;

  • Robert Jokisch, from district utility to day custodian at Grantfork Elementary, effective Feb. 5, 2018;

  • Jim Foehrkalb, from Lindenthal Campus head custodian to day custodian at Grantfork Elementary, effective Feb. 20, 2018; and

  • Robert Jokisch, from day custodian at Grantfork Elementary to head custodian at the Lindenthal Campus, effective Feb. 20, 2018.



Drug prevention group gets new name, focus

Approval was given for the Guard Dogs Group at Highland High School to be changed to Operation Snowball.

Guard Dogs was an evolution of the original LifeSavers group, a suicide and crisis prevention program, which had combined with SADD, which has a mission of promoting responsible decision-making to students and helping them avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention.

However, sponsors, staff and students recognized that the current club needs to be expanded again, to also include recent concerns created by the opioid problem, according to Pamela Tyler, the district's director of special services.

An Operation Snowball Chapter at HHS will encompass the previous goals of SADD and Guard Dogs while adding the current concern of opioid/drug use, Tyler said.

Separate elementary accounts approved

The board approved of resolution authorizing creation of student activity fund accounts for Girls on the Run, Dawg Run, fundraisers, and physical education at Highland Elementary School. The office staff at Highland Elementary has accounted for each of these activities through the building activity account, but wanted to create separate accounts for each of them for accounting purposes.

Food service contract renewed

The board approved of renewal its contract with Ceres Food Service. The renewal rate is tied to the consumer price index (inflation). CPI for the St. Louis area for the preceding calendar year was 1.55 percent.

This will increase the school's cost for reimbursable breakfasts by about 2 cents to $1.42. Lunches and a la carte fees would go up about 4 cents each to $2.62 for both.

This will be the fourth and final renewal for Ceres food service. Next year, the district will be required to completely re-bid of cafeteria services.

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