Education Matters: Blessed Sacrament students take indoor trip to outer space

Signal Hill School teachers Katie Jarvis, third grade, Sara Rule, fourth grade, and Liz Murphy, fifth grade, read “The Lorax” to the intermediate students on March 2.
Signal Hill School teachers Katie Jarvis, third grade, Sara Rule, fourth grade, and Liz Murphy, fifth grade, read “The Lorax” to the intermediate students on March 2.

Students at Blessed Sacrament School in Belleville oohed and aahed over the moons, planets and stars from the daytime comfort of their own gymnasium Tuesday morning.

David Killion, of Mobile Ed Productions, brought the Sky Dome Planetarium to the school that two classes could fit into at a time. Third and fourth grade students gasped as the night stars filled the inside of the dome after they had crawled in.

“It’s not something you can teach in the classroom,” Principal Claire Hatch said. “We do this every few years ... try to bring in hands-on instruction.”

Every class was to get a view of the Sky Dome, with the presentation inside lasting about 45 minutes. Killion took the students on a brief tour of the solar system, spouting facts about the sun (the core is 27 million degrees) and Jupiter (it has 68 moons) as he highlighted each planet. The tour continued on, showing pictures superimposed over the stars to better show the constellations, which the students quickly memorized.

Killion also dispelled future school-yard arguments: There are three ways to pronounce the planet Uranus, including the Spanish version, and all of them are correct.

Unless someone like you ...

Signal Hill School in Belleville joined the nationwide effort to Read Across America on March 2 with events celebrating Dr. Seuss. Intermediate grade teachers read from “The Lorax,” and they offered Seuss-inspired snacks to the third through fifth-grade students. It was the 19th annual Read Across America day, which was created by the National Education Association to promote reading and celebrate Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Highland students learn STEM

Fourth and fifth grade IMSA students at Highland Elementary School have learned about synthetic biology and electricity. Students in the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy meet once a week on Wednesdays, learning how to use pipettes and building circuit cities. Fourth-graders recently learned about a Syntheritc Scorecard and loved learning about chromatography. Fifth-graders investigated circuits and motors, building a motorized toy called Jitterbug.

On March 17, Highland High School will hald a technology and engineering open house. The school has a Nationally Certified Engineering program, where students earn college credit in engineering and technical fields. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the public is welcome to tour the labs and classrooms.

Private school offers kindergarten readiness night

Zion Lutheran School in Belleville is having a kindergarten readiness night. The principal and both kindergarten teachers will talk about academic, emotional, and social readiness that make for a successful kindergarten year. Parents of current kindergarteners will be on hand as well. Childcare will be provided, and pizza served between 6 and 7 p.m. April 5. Reservations are requested by going to or emailing Erica Stelling, admissions and marketing director at Zion Lutheran School,

Hospital donates old computers

Hospital Sisters Health System St. Elizabeth’s Hospital donated nearly $8,000 in used computer equipment to Althoff Catholic High School, Belleville District 118 and Shiloh School District 85. The hospital donated 55 desktop computers and nine laptops as it upgraded equipment in the hospital. The computers were all wiped clean of information, conforming to HIPPA requirements, from the hospital’s information technology team.

Apply for journalism workshop

Current high school sophomores, juniors and seniors are invited to a June journalism workshop taught by reporters, editors and photographers from the Illinois Press Foundation at Eastern Illinois University. Eighteen students will be selected for the free workshop.

To be considered, students must apply at

Optimists announce essay winners

Althoff and Belleville West high schools were well-represented in the Optimist Club of Belleville’s 2016 Optimist International Essay Contest.

The topic was “Lead by Example: Reality or Fiction,” and the first place club winner, Jarrid Braunagel of Althoff, won $100 and will advance to the state level to compete for a $2,500 college scholarship.

Second place was Madelyn Lybarger, of Belleville West, who won $75; third place was Halle Ames, of Althoff, who won $50.


St. Clare Catholic School in O’Fallon recently had a science, technology, engineering and math day for its third and fourth-grade students.

“We really want our students to have hands-on experience in the STEM areas, where there is such a need for our future,” said Principal Milissa Faust. “We have always had strong academics in all areas, but we want our students to explore these areas so they can experience how fun it is to learn and to become innovators.”

Students spent the day using science, engineering and math skills to build and race boats, construct catapults and towers and generate elephant toothpaste, among other activities. Teachers Melissa Funk, Jamie Sparks, Angie Kohlbrecher and Maureen Williams designed the hands-on experience, which focused on the scientific method as well as team building.

Collinsville ready to enroll kindergarteners

Collinsville Community School District 10 has scheduled kindergarten enrollment. Call the district at 618-346-6350, ext. 4237 or ext. 4228 to find out what school your child should attend. Enroll the child at the appropriate school between 8:15 and 4 p.m. on April 5 at Maryville Elementary, April 6 at Caseyville Elementary, April 7 at Jefferson Elementary, April 8 at Kreitner Elementary, April 11 at John A. Renfro Elementary, April 12 at Twin Echo Elementary, April 13 at Summit Elementary and April 14 at Webster Elementary.

All kindergarten spots will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, and an enrollment delay could mean that child does not attend his or her neighborhood school.

Enrollment is also between 8:15 and 4 p.m. on April 18 at the Administrative Annex, 123 W. Clay St. in Collinsville.

Children must be 5 years old on or before Sept. 1, and a parent must bring a certified birth certificate and the child’s social security number. Illinois state law requires a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate. Parents must also prove district residency. Go to and look under the Enrollment & Registration section listed under the Parents & Students menu.

Solo results are in

Two students at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Waterloo scored a first rating at the district 5D Illinois Grade School Music Association District Solo and Ensemble Contest at Columbia Middle School recently. Allan Kraus received the rating for a trombone solo, and Hannah Gundlach received a first rating for a violin solo.

Representative against governor’s plan

Representative Jay Hoffman is urging metro-east residents to sign a petition opposing the governor’s plan to take over Chicago schools. Learn more about the petition at

“I believe this plan may direct our tax dollars away from metro-east schools,” Hoffman said in a news release.

116 hours, 32 places

Students from Immaculate Conception School took a trip to Gettysburg, Pa., and 31 other places including Colonial Williamsburg recently.

ICS students served and were gift-bearers for the Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, where Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral occurred.

The 23 students were joined by 21 chaperones on the 116-hour trip.

Students attending were Alex Bira, Spencer Biske, Jack Burke, Katrina Costner, Claire Eppinger, Kaylum Furlow, Ryan Gallagher, Jacob Gilbreth, Robbie Guetterman, Lexi Hennes, Claire Huebner, Hannah Janson, Ben Lambert, Abigail Mathany, Eve Melliere, Bryce Pautler, Nick Prindiville, Jacob Raisch, Maggie Schulte, Charlie Soetaert, Ben Traxler, Mary Wessel and Jane Whelan.