Education

School district will bring books to kids who might not otherwise have access

O'Fallon High School Marching Panthers perform at Orange Bowl

Provided footage of the O'Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers during their pregame performance at the Orange Bowl, in Miami, Florida. The OTHS marching band also performed during the halftime show alongside American funk pop and dance-ro
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Provided footage of the O'Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers during their pregame performance at the Orange Bowl, in Miami, Florida. The OTHS marching band also performed during the halftime show alongside American funk pop and dance-ro

When students are out of school, they might not have access to a library. So Belle Valley School District 119 is bringing the books to them.

Librarian Krystina Kelley said the district used a $15,000 grant to buy a van and fill it with 1,000 new books. The first time the “mobile reading unit” hit the road was Dec. 21, during the holiday break. It made three stops around Belleville in three hours. Kelley said 73 students showed up and each of them left with a free book.

The van will be making more stops in the future when school is not in session for extended periods, like spring and summer breaks.

For now, Kelley said the mobile unit is more like a giveaway than a library because students keep the books, but it could change in the future.

“It will be an evolving thing,” she said. One idea is to make it a book exchange where students bring an old book to the van and take a new one home.

The grant that paid for the mobile unit came from Emerson Electric, Kelley said.

High school marching band performs on national stage

The O’Fallon Township High School marching band was recently featured in the pregame show at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

The college football game took place Dec. 30 at Hard Rock Stadium, where the Michigan Wolverines took on the Florida State Seminoles.

More than 180 O’Fallon students were expected to travel for the performance.

Provided footage of the O'Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers during their pregame performance at the Orange Bowl, in Miami, Florida. The OTHS marching band also performed during the halftime show alongside American funk pop and dance-ro

Local districts among top in state, website says

Five metro-east school districts were ranked among the top 100 in Illinois by a data collection website.

Niche.com says it analyzes public data and reviews from parents and students to create its lists. Some of the factors it considers are graduation rates, standardized test scores, teacher quality and more.

Here’s how the local districts stack up:

▪  No. 28: Edwardsville School District 7

▪  No. 52: Mascoutah School District 19

▪  No. 68: Columbia School District 4

▪  No. 71: Belleville School District 201

▪  No. 86: Waterloo School District 5

Lawmakers say new bill addresses teacher shortage

Gov. Bruce Rauner hopes legislation he signed on Friday will make it easier for out-of-state teachers to move to Illinois by streamlining the process.

The Illinois State Board of Education can now grant an Illinois license to teachers with comparable out-of-state licenses.

State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, a bill sponsor, said Illinois currently has a teacher shortage, particularly in “underserved areas.” The legislation aims to bring people back to Illinois from surrounding states, he said.

“Many times, our youth travel to bordering states to begin their careers. We are encouraging them to come back home and teach our future generations,” Luechtefeld said.

Lawmakers wanted to help substitute teachers, too, by reducing the fee to obtain that license under the legislation. The bill also lifts some of the burdens retired teachers faced if they wanted to return to the classroom to sub for a teacher, Rauner’s office stated.

“This bill is about teachers, jobs and opportunities,” Rauner said.

Dupo teachers raise money to help public library

Budget cuts and vandalism left the Daugherty Public Library struggling to survive.

To help the cash-strapped library, the Dupo teachers union worked with students, parents and the community to raise more than $1,500. Students were “instrumental” in the fundraising campaign, according to the union.

Robyn Conway, a special education reading teacher, said students at both the grade school and high school use the public library.

“Kids go to the library to have a safe place to go until their parents are home,” Conway said. “They use the high-speed Internet for research and enjoy having a quiet place to study and work.”

Conway is also the president of the Dupo Federation of Teachers, which represents 130 teachers and support staff at Bluffview Elementary and Dupo Junior High School and Dupo Senior High School.

The fundraising campaign — called “Bucks for Books” — lasted from Oct. 17-28. Members of the Dupo Federation of Teachers presented the check to the library on Dec. 13.

Hungry? Girl Scouts cookie program begins

The first known sale of cookies by Girl Scouts was in 1917, when a troop from Oklahoma baked cookies and sold them in a high school cafeteria.

One hundred years later, Girl Scout cookies are available for sale online.

The Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois kicked off its cookie program over the weekend. Metro-east residents will continue to see girls selling cookies at booths, the council said in a news release. But they can also purchase cookies from the comfort of their homes through Digital Cookie, an online platform.

Using this technology teaches girls about online marketing and e-commerce, according to the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois. Girls can customize personal sales websites and use email to invite friends and family to place an order.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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