Education

Teen’s hobbies range from flying trapeze to water skiing

Belleville West High School junior Bailey Kruse has a long list of athletic accomplishments and is able to maintain her grades, too. Principal Rich Mertens said she does that despite the extreme fatigue she can feel because of a degenerative neuromuscular disorder called Friedreich’s ataxia.
Belleville West High School junior Bailey Kruse has a long list of athletic accomplishments and is able to maintain her grades, too. Principal Rich Mertens said she does that despite the extreme fatigue she can feel because of a degenerative neuromuscular disorder called Friedreich’s ataxia. acortes@bnd.com

Bailey Kruse is a busy Belleville West High School student.

Principal Rich Mertens read a list of her athletic accomplishments during the District 201 School Board meeting Tuesday night. And it was a long list.

Mertens said that Bailey has been able to maintain her grades and that busy schedule despite the extreme fatigue she can feel.

Bailey has Friedreich’s ataxia, a degenerative neuromuscular disorder, and uses a wheelchair. About one in 50,000 people in the U.S. have it, according to the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance.

But Bailey stays active. Some of her endeavors include track and field, swimming, archery, martial arts, water skiing and flying trapeze.

She’s hoping to gain enough stamina to participate in 5K events on a recumbent bicycle in the future, according to Mertens.

In the meantime, Bailey is involved in the Disabled Athletic Sports Association and is a 2016 U.S. Paralympic High School Track and Field All-American. She’s also in the high school choir and was named a senior airman in the junior reserve officer training corps.

She hopes to go to college to pursue a degree in counseling and wants to eventually work with children.

Student recognitions

During the meeting, Mertens also recognized the following students:

▪  Jill Ann Buettner, who is working to bring autism awareness to private schools in Belleville for her Girl Scout Gold Award. She will be holding a conference for teachers at Our Lady Queen of Peace School and has been fundraising to donate tools to the school.

▪  Maggie Baltz, who is an active volunteer through local agencies including Interfaith Food Pantry, St. John Bosco Center and Project Compassion.

▪  Maggie Carty, who is a competitive dancer. She teaches younger girls how to dance, too.

▪  LeAnn Sweeney, who has a passion for music and the Spanish language. She is an active member of the Spanish Club.

Each of the girls is a drum major, which means they conduct the high school band.

Staff recognitions

Two math teachers were also recognized by District 201’s principals.

Belleville East Principal Jason Karstens said during the meeting that math teacher Debra Stierwalt would be missed when she left for retirement.

“She will be graduating at the end of this year,” Karstens said. “That’s her way of saying ‘retiring.’... Obviously the staff and students at Belleville East are going to miss you, but we’ll have fun celebrating your graduation.”

Belleville West math teacher Amy Wallis was also recognized by Mertens.

“I know I’m getting old when my former students are standing up here,” Mertens said.

Matt Nimmons, the mathematics department chair, wrote in a statement that Mertens read to the school board that Wallis is a compassionate teacher and coworker.

“Nine years ago when my wife and I had triplets, Amy organized for countless meals to be made for us. I still remember the delicious taco soup she made,” Nimmons wrote. “It was not because she had to or someone told her to, but because she is a caring person who goes out of her way to help others.”

In other business

The board approved the employment of the following new personnel:

▪  Sarah Lowe, teacher assistant at Belleville East for the 2016-17 school year.

▪  Tiare Vaughn, individual aide at Belleville West for the 2016-17 school year.

▪  Andrew Cowell East children’s play technical director for the 2016-17 school year.

The District 201 School Board meets next at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at 920 N. Illinois St. in Belleville.

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