Education Matters: Optimist Club honors eight students

The Belleville Westside Optimist club recognized Carlo Amorado, left, Hannah Telken, Isabelle Toler, Jamon Crisp, Jillian Mentzer, Miranda Jenkins, Gwynne McGrady and Wyatt Shellabarger recently.
The Belleville Westside Optimist club recognized Carlo Amorado, left, Hannah Telken, Isabelle Toler, Jamon Crisp, Jillian Mentzer, Miranda Jenkins, Gwynne McGrady and Wyatt Shellabarger recently. Provided photo

The Belleville Westside Optimist Club recognized eight area students as those who distinguished themselves in an effort or improvement in any area; citizenship or a positive attitude, according to Carol Reuter of the organization.

Linda Mehrtens, also an Optimist, said students were voted on by the teachers of area schools, weighing the kind of special effect the students had on the school or other students. She said these students uphold the Optimist Creed, which begins: “to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet. To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.”

Students recognized were: Kelly West, of Signal Hill in Belleville; Isabelle Tolar, of Notre Dame Academy in Belleville; Jamon Crisp, of West Junior High in Belleville; Miranda Jenkins, of Emge Junior High in Belleville; Jillian Mentzer, of High Mount School in Swansea; Carlo Amorado, of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Belleville; Hannah Telken, of Blessed Sacrament in Belleville; and Gwynne McGrady, of Wolf Branch School in Swansea.

Schools honor veterans

Several area schools recognized Veterans Day with activities on Tuesday, including Belleville District 118 schools.

Abraham Lincoln Elementary had an assembly honoring veteran guests and a poster and essay contest. Members of Dupo Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. was on hand for the veterans assembly at Douglas Elementary.

The assembly at Franklin Elementary featured a slideshow of Franklin family veterans, and Henry Raab Elementary invited local veteran organizations and veterans to take part in their assembly.

Westhaven School and West Junior High had guest speakers from Scott Air Force Base on Tuesday.

Band season ends

O’Fallon Township High School took grand champion and first in its class, and Belleville East High School took third in the same class at the Illinois Marching Band Championship on Oct. 31. The two metro-east schools competed in Class 6A, the largest of the large-school classes, against schools from the Chicago area. O’Fallon went home with 90.45 points and class wins in music, visual and general excellence. Belleville East had 84.05 points, coming in third behind Downer’s Grove with 84.40 points.

It was the last contest in the marching band season.

Doing the right thing

Eight metro-east students were recognized at the end of October by the “Do the Right Thing” of Greater St. Louis organization. Students were Breona Banks, Carlos Raiford and Davontae Monroe, all of Westhaven Elementary School in Belleville; Brooke Beeler, Lucas Beeler and Payton Wittenbrink, all of Smithton School; Dominick Eads of Signal Hill Elementary School in Belleville; and Jacob Vahle, of Delores Moye Elementary School in O’Fallon.

Speakers included Nick Gailius, police chief of Fairview Heights.

Teachers have decades of experience

Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Belleville has two teachers, along with their principal, celebrating milestone years in education this year.

▪  Teacher Jim Keim is in his 50th year of Catholic education. Keim started as a teacher at Blessed Sacrement in 1977 and served as principal between 1983 and 1991. He then returned to teaching.

▪  Principal Claire Hatch is celebrating her 25th year as principal and has been in Catholic education for nearly 40. Before becoming the principal, she was a teacher for 13 years and also works with Camp Ondessonk, Althoff Catholic High Schoool, Sister Thea Bowman and other community organizations.

▪  Teacher Peggy Butler is celebrating her 25th year in education. She started teaching at Holy Rosary in 1989 and moved to Blessed Sacrament in 2005.

Another school district on Facebook

Signal Hill School District 181 has a Facebook page. So far, the district has used the page to announce a need for substitute teachers, shared pictures of Red Ribbon Week, and announced Parent Teacher Organization meeting dates. The page has had dozens of posts, including an announcement that the district has earned more than $500 from Box Tops for Education.


As part of its anti-bullying initiatives, Collinsville High School students left a Post-It note with a positive message and the hashtag #startwithus on the desk of every student and faculty member on Oct. 28.

The district’s schools are working with Prevent School Violence Illinois and Character Plus to offer activities that cultivate respect for the students. The high school has an advisory panel of school personnel and six student leaders to help advance their cause.

Board member a Fellow

Collinsville Unit 10 School Board Member Gary Kusmierczak earned designation as an Illinois Association of School Boards LeaderShop Academy Fellow. According to the Illinois Association of School Boards, only 79 of all the school board members in Illinois today have LeaderShop Fellows status. The step before, Master School Board Member, is held by almost 1,200 of the 7,000 school board members in the state.

Governor French student places in Science Quiz Show

Caroline Stewart, of Belleville, a junior at the Governor French Academy, took third place in the annual Science Quiz Show sponsored by the Association of Filipino Physicians of Southern Illinois on Nov. 8 at Carlyle High School. Stewart won $150 and a trophy.