Education Matters: St. John Neumann hires band director

Matt Bittles is the new music director at St. John Neumann School in Maryville.
Matt Bittles is the new music director at St. John Neumann School in Maryville.

St. John Neumann Catholic School, in Maryville, has hired a band director.

Matt Bittles has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in jazz trumpet performance and has played at several jazz festivals. He performs around the St. Louis area, according to a news release from the school, and has worked with The Four Tops, Downtime Productions, Stages St. Louis, Brian Owens, The Fox Theatre, Jazz at the Bistro and Circus Flora.

Bittles has had a private studio for seven years and has been a judge and clinician for several schools in the area.

Open house at St. Clare School

St. Clare Catholic School and Good Shepherd Preschool, both in O’Fallon, are holding an open house from 1:30-3 p.m. Jan. 31. Kindergarten registration will also be at that time.

School administration and teachers will be on hand, and the St. Clare Parents and Friends Club will host a reception. St. Clare offers kindergarten through eighth grade classes at 214 W. Third St. in O’Fallon; the program for children age 3 through 5 is at the Good Shepherd Center at St. Nicholas Church in O’Fallon.

The tour includes the school’s new science lab, expanded computer and music rooms, prayer space and youth room.

Boeing grant feeding students on weekends

A Boeing grant is funding Operation Food Search, which helps ensure students have food over the weekend.

Operation Food Search’s Operation Backpack provides food to children who are at-risk for hunger over the weekend during the school year. Operation Food Search helps children through Mascoutah Community School District 19 and the Scott Air Force Base’s Scott Spouses’ Club.

The money will also help Operation Food Search educate military kids, teens and adults about cooking healthy, tasty and affordable meals.

Lunch recipe contest

Students in grades fourth through 12th are invited by the American Pulse Association to improve the school lunch.

The national competition needs teams of fourth through eighth graders and high school students and their advisers to create lunch recipes featuring beans, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas. Those foods are known as pulses.

The national competition runs through March 7. Each team needs to create and promote two lunch recipes, a meat alternative entree and a vegetable side. Both recipes must use at least one of the pulse crops.

Go to for more information.

The top three teams from each grade group will receive cash prizes for their schools, and the top three high school teams will win a trip to a cooking competition in Texas.

Cub Scouts donate popcorn

The United Service Organizations in St. Louis has received more than 100 boxes of popcorn from an O’Fallon Cub Scout Pack.

Cub Scout Pack 35, chartered by the United Church of Christ, donated 110 boxes to the USO.