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25th Geo Bowl breaks new ground

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Tonight the Jacksonville High School Geography Club put on their 25th annual Geography Bowl. This trivia contest for the local elementary schools tests student’s knowledge of physical, political, and cultural geography. Teams came from the district’s own elementary schools, as well as Our Saviour, Winchester, and Triopia.

This year’s winning team was the Green Team from Our Saviour. They beat Washington’s Black team in the finals, 11-5. Our Saviour’s teams are coached by Mr. Jolly and Miss Koleczek.

There were several major changes to the Bowl this year. For the first time, the whole event was live streamed on Youtube. Two students, Fisher Thomas and Luke Hewitt, came up with the idea for the stream based on their own experiences streaming video games. Using “Open Broadcast Software,” their stream went off without a hitch. Although the new setup is very impressive, the young men informed me that both the streaming software and cameras are easy to use.

Unlike in years past, the actual competition was held in the JHS media center instead of the auditorium.  Video from the media center was streamed to the auditorium, which was still packed. The event was moved both to better facilitate the live stream, and to make the competition less stressful on the student teams.  In pervious years, background noise from the crowd had made it difficult for students to hear the questions being asked and disrupted the competition. Data from the live stream indicated nearly 170 people were viewing the stream at once.  Total online viewership is still being determined.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

Education

New Illinois law requires high school students to apply for college aid before graduation

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In addition to math, science, reading, and gym class, Illinois high school students will soon have a financial aid requirement to graduate high school.

Every high school senior in the state of Illinois will have to apply for federal student aid before they can graduate.

Lawmakers approved the new law last week. Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he will sign it.

Under the plan, high schools in the state will be required to have seniors fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and if eligible a state student aid application as well.

State Rep. Katie Stuart says it will be easy for schools and kids, and could help some students get into college.

“This initiative will connect more students to the resources that are already available to help them get education or training after high school,” Stuart said. “But it’s flexible enough that we are not putting up any new barriers to graduation.”

Not all lawmakers are happy about the idea.

Opponents say there’s always a cost when the state requires local schools to do anything. And there’s a question about why all high school seniors need to fill out a FAFSA application.

But state Rep. Mary Flowers, who voted for the plan, said the requirement is aimed at the students who need extra help.

“You assume that all schools have the necessary counselors to take the time to educate the students, as well as the parents, about college and/or other programs,” Flowers told opponents of the plan.

Pritzker says the idea is critical for the state’s schools. He says he looks forward to signing the new law.

Once he does, the requirement will start in the 2020-2021 school year.

 

Article by Benjamin Yount with The Center Square. For more TCS visit https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois

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LIVE | District 186 school board meeting January 22nd

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Follow along live with District 186’s school board meeting for January 22nd.

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Illinois educators wary of bill to require metal detectors in every school

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image from the Sentinel-Echo

A group of Illinois lawmakers are promoting legislation that would use a combination of state, local and federal funds to put metal detectors in every school in the state, but some school leaders say it’s simply not feasible.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, said students in schools should feel safe from gun violence when they’re learning. For that reason, the former teacher filed a bill that would require all public schools, K-12, have students walk through metal detectors everyday to get to class.

“Why is it that no one gets shot inside of Terminal 1 or Terminal 2 at O’Hare Airport?” he asked.

The bill would tap into federal funds made available this summer to partially pay for the walk-through detectors, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Regional Superintendent Mark Jontry, who oversees schools in DeWitt, Livingston, Logan and McLean Counties, said the idea is well-intentioned, but would result in a unfunded expenses for school districts and create logistical problems.

“Who’s going to be responsible for doing those screenings? Are districts going to be responsible for the cost of hiring additional personnel?” he said. “The concept, on the surface may seem like a good idea, but it presents a number of challenges once you dig into it.”

The detectors would have to be run by a trained professional and need regular servicing and calibration to ensure they work properly. Jontry said such costs would likely fall to local taxpayers.

Ben Schwarm, deputy director with the Illinois Association of School Boards, served on a working group with the Illinois Terrorism Task Force. The law enforcement contingent of the group had a hierarchy of actions that could be taken to “harden” schools from unwanted entry. Schwarm said metal detectors were last on that list.

“It’s just not that effective,” he said. “There’s a thousand things school districts should be doing before they get to that point.”

Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org

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