Local elementary students star in YMCA promotional video

Students from Renfro Elementary School in Collinsville were featured in the YMCA promotional video “All Kids Have Potential.”
Students from Renfro Elementary School in Collinsville were featured in the YMCA promotional video “All Kids Have Potential.”

Second-grader Zander Hayes has the lead role in a YMCA promotional video that is being shared nationally.

His classmates at Renfro Elementary School in Collinsville also make appearances in “All Kids Have Potential,” which is about how a child’s self esteem is impacted by words.

The video begins from Zander’s point of view as actors who play family members, a teacher and a coach discourage him with comments like: “Stop being lazy; You’re just like your father.” “Math isn’t for everyone.” “Sports probably isn’t your thing.”

Zander’s character starts to believe he doesn’t have talent — until he meets YMCA representatives who tell him otherwise.

Scenes in the video were shot at Renfro Elementary and the Collinsville Maryville Troy YMCA, according to a post on Collinsville Unit 10 School District’s social media.

Physical education, social studies teacher honored

Signal Hill District 118’s Luke Wessel has earned the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award. He was nominated by Signal Hill School Principal Brooke Wiemers.

Wessel, of Smithton, has taught physical education and eighth-grade U.S. history during his 11 years at Signal Hill. He has also served on various committees and coached sports teams.

The Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award highlights the achievements of educators who play a vital role in shaping students’ lives.

Wessel is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Teens prove they’re cybersecurity savvy

Four area high schoolers made up the first-place team in the first-ever Hackspace Competition, which aims to get students excited about science, technology, engineering and math careers.

Winners included Zach Locke, of Columbia High School; Jostin Hicks, of Alton High School; and Eric Upson and Antoine Watson, both of O’Fallon Township High School. More than 50 middle and high school students competed in the event.

The students’ prizes were CanaKit Raspberry Pi starter kits — a Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized computer. During the competition, which took place at Southwestern Illinois College, participants answered questions and solved puzzles related to cybersecurity.

Area marching band is among top 14 in competition

O’Fallon Township High School’s marching band earned the sixth-highest score in one of the nation’s most prominent marching band championships.

The Music for All’s Bands of America Super Regional Championship took place over the weekend at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis. Sixty-five bands traveled from 16 states to compete.

Bands from Collinsville High School, Belleville East High School and O’Fallon Township High School performed on Friday. The young musicians were evaluated by a panel of nationally-recognized music educators and marching band experts.

Donate blood in memory of sisters killed in crash

Dorris Intermediate School will soon have its fourth blood drive in memory of the teenage sisters who died when their car was struck by an Illinois State Highway Patrol vehicle eight years ago.

Jessica and Kelli Uhl were driving Nov. 23, 2007, on Interstate 64 east of O’Fallon when the former Illinois State Police trooper’s police cruiser crossed the center median and hit them at 126 mph. The ex-trooper was found to be talking on his cell phone and reading email on his computer at the time of the collision.

Jessica, 18, and Kelli, 13, had attended Collinsville schools.

The Red Cross Blood Drive will take place from 3-7 p.m. Nov. 1 in the school cafeteria at 1841 Vandalia St. in Collinsville. All donors must have a valid photo ID.

For more information or to register, visit and enter the sponsor code UhlSisters.

Chat with trade professionals about your career

Students and parents can learn about job opportunities and talk to trade professionals during an upcoming construction career expo in Belleville.

A special event from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 3 is open to the public. Parents attending alone or with their children will have the chance to discuss how students can start preparing for a future in construction with trade representatives who can suggest curriculum choices and relevant skills needed.

The Metro Construction Career Expo will take place Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds, 200 South Belt East in Belleville. An estimate 1,000 students from St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties will visit with their schools during the day.

For more information about the Metro Construction Career Expo or to sign a school group up to attend, contact Donna Richter, CEO of the Southern Illinois Builders Association, at 618-624-9055.

Help local students raise money for clean water

Highland Middle School is collecting new and used shoes to raise funds to provide clean water around the world.

All types of shoes will be accepted as long as they don’t have holes. Shoes can be dropped off in a donation box in the school’s front entrance at 2813 Illinois 160 in Highland until Nov. 10.

The collection is part of the Shoeman Water Project.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes