Education Matters: State agency names Illinois State Scholars

The Robo Waffles were Rob Bucks, Clint Conness, Nathan Cook, Evan Yasitis and (front row) Sarah Schaibly, Paige Yasitis, Mary-Elizabeth Beware and Alexa Bucks.
The Robo Waffles were Rob Bucks, Clint Conness, Nathan Cook, Evan Yasitis and (front row) Sarah Schaibly, Paige Yasitis, Mary-Elizabeth Beware and Alexa Bucks.

Hundreds of metro-east high school students have been named as Illinois State Scholars for 2016-17.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission, a state agency dedicated to making college accessible and affordable, has named the state’s top students since 1958. The honor is based on a combination of exemplary ACT or SAT test scores and class rank, representing approximately the top 10 percent of seniors across the state.

For a complete list of students named in St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties, go to the ISAC website at

Teams advance in Lego contest

At least three local student groups have advanced from two local competitions to the FIRST Lego League competition at the University of Illinois on Jan. 23. The state contest will have 64 teams competing in “Trash Trek” with missions that involve sorting and recycling.

▪  The Purple Robot Penguins, of the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois in O’Fallon, won the Champion’s Award on Dec. 5 in O’Fallon. The Purple Robot Penguins had the highest overall score from the four areas of robot design, robot performance, project (which requires research and presentation) and core values.

The Girl Scout team also won the Robot Performance award for having the highest score during the robot game, where each team programs its robot to attempt missions.

Team members include Mary Buchanan, Shannon Buchanan, Kayla Conklin, Lilly Delucio, Allie Huller and Alexa Prouhet.

▪  The Robo Waffles Robotics Team at St. John Neumann Catholic School in Maryville qualified for the state competition at the Southern Illinois event on Dec. 5 in O’Fallon. Their project of using dissolvable wrapping paper, which reduces waste in landfills, won the Project Award. Robo Waffles robot, The Janitor, placed second overall after three judging sessions and four robot performance runs.

▪  The Gamma Rays, of Governor French Academy in Belleville, placed second overall at the qualifier at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The Gamma Rays also earned the Robot Design Award.

Winter concert

East St. Louis students performed on Dec. 18 at the second annual Winter Wonderland program at the Discovery Center for Little Scholars at the SIUE East St. Louis Center. Selections included “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

Students at the programs ranged in age from infant through 17.

“Some of the students who performed are beginners and others were advanced,” said Earl Leonard Wilkes, music instructor with the SIUE East St. Louis Performing Arts Program. “The younger children get to see the more experienced students perform, and they have made a great effort to do their parts.”

The SIUE East St. Louis Center provides programs, services and training in education, social services and the arts.

Academy appointment

Michael Hovick, of O’Fallon Township High School, has received an appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy. The class of 2020 has 290 freshman entering the academy from across the United States.

Donations to Operation Gratitude

Our Lady Queen of Peace School in Belleville collected more than $450 at a dress down day on Dec. 9 for Operation Gratitude, which provides care packages to new recruits, veterans, first responders, wounded warriors, care givers and to individually named U.S. service members deployed overseas. The school reports that the effort will provide 30 care packages.