Veteran police officer will help teach your children, keep halls safe

Swansea schools have a new face in their halls: Officer Cheryl Venorsky.

Venorsky, of the Swansea Police Department, started working as a school resource officer at Wolf Branch and High Mount schools on Monday. Her job will be to investigate violations of criminal law in the schools. Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said that won’t include violations of school rules, like cheating on tests.

But she will also work with the children in a variety of ways — from playing basketball and tutoring in math to listening to their concerns, Johnson said in an announcement on Facebook.

“The primary reason, in our opinion, for the SRO is to bridge the gap between professional law enforcement and future citizens,” Johnson said.

He suggested that Venorsky’s experience — nearly 21 years as a police officer — would be of use to teachers and administrators, too. Her knowledge can be applied to lessons in almost every subject, according to Johnson.

In social studies, for example, Venorsky could talk to classes about search and seizure or the judicial process. She could also inform science classes about crime scene investigation and forensics.

“The SRO’s law-related educational efforts can only be limited by their imagination,” Johnson said.

Also among Venorsky’s duties are to give crisis and emergency training to faculty and staff, as well as presentations to parents about things like emerging drug trends.

Once you meet her, you will quickly see why she was the right person for the job.

Steven Johnson, Swansea police chief on school resource officer Cheryl Venorsky

Johnson said Venorsky grew up in Swansea and continues to live there today. Recently, her son graduated from Wolf Branch. She has both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in administration of justice and has been nationally certified to be a school resource officer.

“The number of classes and awards she has attended and earned are too many to mention, but almost all of them have to do with professionalism, kindness and working with children in a positive light,” Johnson said. “Once you meet her, you will quickly see why she was the right person for the job.”

Metro-east school growing its arts programming

A Columbia school plans to bring some form of the arts — theater, music, dance, drawing, poetry or others— into its core curriculum.

Immaculate Conception School teachers Christine Matrisotto and Beth Carrow are participating in a professional development opportunity through the Center for Creative Arts in St. Louis. They will learn how to incorporate the arts throughout the learning process.

Carrow teaches pre-kindergarten, and Matrisotto teaches third grade.

Group says he’s the elementary teacher of the year

A metro-east educator was recently named elementary teacher of the year by the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Reggie Duncan teaches fifth grade math and science at Wingate Elementary School in Belleville. Principal Randy Blakely said Duncan is also a state finalist for a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation’s highest honors for teachers of those subjects.

Area marching band is among top 25 at end of season

Over the weekend, the O’Fallon Marching Panthers secured the 22nd place in a competition of 100 bands from across the country.

The Grand National Competition brought bands from California, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Florida, North and South Carolina to Indiana.

It was the last time the Marching Panthers will perform for the season.

Teens raise money for cancer research, read with kids

Students at Belleville West High School stayed busy volunteering in October.

The varsity football cheerleaders donated money to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and student council members read to children in local grade schools.

To raise the money for cancer research, senior Haley Casper designed a T-shirt to sell to the student body and faculty; That alone raised more than $1,000. The cheerleaders also had bake sales. Altogether, they donated more than $2,000.

Reading to children was for the Student Council’s annual Halloread event. The high schoolers dressed up in Halloween costumes and brought candy and books to area classrooms, including at Roosevelt Elementary School and High Mount School.

Local students receive scholarships from SEMO

Several local students were recently awarded scholarships to attend Southeast Missouri State University in the 2017-18 academic year.

The students who earned the Regents’ Scholarship will receive tuition for 30 credit hours per academic year. The 2016-17 value of the award was $11,364 for non-Missouri residents. The Regents’ Scholarship winners are:

▪  Waterloo High School student Justin Wenger, of Waterloo.

▪  Edwardsville High School student Jennie Ellsworth, of Glen Carbon.

▪  Triad High School student Kristen Hanser, of Marine.

▪  Waterloo High School student Steven Wall, of Waterloo.

The Midwest Achievement Award will be given to three high schoolers. Its value is the difference between out-of-state tuition and in-state tuition; In 2016-17, that was $5,385 for 30 credit hours. Those same students will also get $1,000 toward residence hall fees through the Residence Life Leadership Scholarship. The winners include:

▪  Belleville East High School student Zachary Philipp, of Swansea.

▪  Mascoutah High School student Peyton Reely, of Mascoutah.

▪  Belleville East High School student Seth McKee, of Belleville.

One teen, Triad High School student Holly Dees, of Troy, will get $2,000 for tuition and $1,000 for residence hall fees from the University Scholarship and the Residence Life Leadership Award.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes