School wants to honor fallen police officer, but it needs your help

Maryville Elementary School in Granite City is collecting plastic caps and lids from the community to build a blue bench inscribed with Officer Blake Snyder’s name. This is what the bench, which will eventually stand in the school’s playground, will look like.
Maryville Elementary School in Granite City is collecting plastic caps and lids from the community to build a blue bench inscribed with Officer Blake Snyder’s name. This is what the bench, which will eventually stand in the school’s playground, will look like.

To remember the St. Louis County police officer who recently died in a shootout, the metro-east school where his nephew is a student has plans for a lasting memorial.

Maryville Elementary School in Granite City wants to build a bench out of plastic donated by the community. It will be blue, which is a school color and the color associated with police, and will be inscribed with Blake Snyder’s name. The 33-year-old officer died last month after he was shot responding to a call for a disturbance.

Snyder’s 6-year-old nephew Samuel Skirball is a student at Maryville Elementary. And Principal Mark Lull said Samuel has two siblings — a younger brother and sister — who will be attending the elementary school soon, too.

“I think it will be nice for them to see their uncle’s name on a bench,” Lull said.

Police officers play a large role in the lives of students and staff at Maryville Elementary. According to Lull, some staff members have spouses on the force, and many children’s parents are officers.

“The bench is not only for Officer Snyder, but all of the policemen and women,” Lull said.

Maryville Elementary is asking the community to save its plastic caps and lids and drop them off at the school, located at 4651 Maryville Road. The bench will be placed in the playground for students to rest on during recess, the school stated in a flier. It needs almost 400 pounds of plastic to meet that goal.

Recycling coordinators and educators Jodi Blomme and Christy Marana estimated that the school was about halfway to its goal, with 200 pounds collected as of Monday. Blomme teaches kindergarten through second-grade special education, and Marana teaches first grade.

The school will accept plastic caps from medicine bottles, milk jugs, detergents, hair sprays, toothpaste tubes, deodorants, drink bottles, spray paint bottles, ointment tubes and flip top or spout bottles — like ketchup and mustard bottles.

Also accepted are lids from cottage cheese containers, mayonnaise jars, yogurts, peanut butter, ice cream buckets, Cool Whip containers, coffee cans, butter containers, cream cheese containers and sour cream containers.

The bench is not only for Officer Snyder, but all of the policemen and women.

Mark Lull, Maryville Elementary School principal

In addition to honoring police officers everywhere, Lull said the project serves another purpose: teaching students about recycling.

“They’re realizing that these caps aren’t going into the ground; they’re being recycled and being used for something new,” Lull said.

The donations will be taken to Green Tree Plastics in Indiana, where the bench will be created. The cost will be about $250, the teachers said. Maryville Elementary will also accept monetary donations to use toward the project, which can be dropped off at the school.

Earlier in November, the school paid tribute to Snyder, inviting his widow, Elizabeth, to a ceremony that included the release of black and blue balloons into the sky.

District donates money to BackStoppers group

Freeburg School District 70 recently gave $871 to BackStoppers, a group that provides assistance to the spouses and children of severely injured first responders and those killed in the line of duty.

The donation was made in memory of Officer Snyder.

Assistant Superintendent Mark Janssen wrote in a letter to BackStoppers that, after hearing about Snyder’s death, students and staff wondered how they could help. The student council’s idea was to allow students to dress up as superheroes and make a $1 donation in his honor.

“I thought it was a fitting theme because, after all, the men and women serving as police officers, firefighters and EMTs are our true heroes,” Janssen wrote.

BackStoppers helps the families of police officers, as well as firefighters and publicly-funded paramedics and EMTs.

Local high school principal planning to retire

Mascoutah High School Principal Sandy Jouglard is retiring.

Superintendent Craig Fiegel said she’s worked in the district about 14 years. She was the principal at Mascoutah Elementary School before moving to the high school.

“Mrs. J has done a great job for us,” Fiegel said.

Being a high school principal isn’t easy, Fiegel said, “it’s probably one of the tougher jobs in the district.” Jouglard will be missed, he said.

Jouglard’s contract ends June 30. A new principal would start July 1.

Area marching band wins top honor at invitational

O’Fallon Township High School’s marching band took home first place in the Class 4A Belleville East Marching Invitational.

Out of 15 competing bands, the Marching Panthers won outstanding music, visual, color guard, general effect and percussion and was named Grand Champion.

O’Fallon’s final competition of the season will be the Grand Nationals Event Nov. 10-12 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.

English language learners celebrate Day of the Dead

Students studying Spanish at Metro East Montessori School in Granite City recently visited native Spanish speakers at Webster Elementary School in Collinsville to celebrate Dia de los Muertos together.

Dia de los Muertos — or Day of the Dead — is a Mexican tradition that honors the deceased. The trip was arranged to empower students from both groups to embrace their language skills, according to Amelia Petty, an English language learners teacher in Collinsville Unit 10 School District.

“The Metro East Montessori students were able to practice their Spanish, while my students had an opportunity to share their knowledge of their home language,” Petty said. “My goal for my students was to help them to see the value of their native language, in an effort to encourage them to keep using it, practicing it and learning more. It also gave them the opportunity to be the experts at something.”

The native speakers are English language learners in first through fourth grades at Webster. The Metro East Montessori students are level three and four Spanish learners.

The children played a game together and participated in art activities, according to a recent post about the event on the Unit 10 Facebook page.

Only all-girls coding team in competition wins big

People from around the world traveled to St. Louis last month to hack homelessness.

The students and pros came together for the Global Hack VI competition at the Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University campus. Their goal was to build software solutions for the homeless community. They had an entire weekend, and $1 million in cash prizes were up for grabs.

Red Bud High School freshman Lauren Crowe competed on the only all-girls team of students. The group earned first place in the youth division and second place overall, taking home a $50,000 prize.

Lauren was previously selected out of more than 1,000 applicants to participate in a summer class that is an initiative by fashion model Karlie Kloss called Kode With Klossy. It taught girls to code and encouraged them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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