Saturday, April 25, 2020

2020 Senior Spotlight on Eric Poe

Eric Poe runs to the finish line during the 2019 SJO 5K. Heading into his senior year at SJO back in July, he finished the race in 18 minutes and 11.5 seconds to finish third in the 14-18 year-old age division. Below, Poe runs to the finish line four months later at the IHSA Cross Country State Finals in Peoria. He finished the course at 100th overall with a time of 16:27.75 to help the Spartans to a 18th place team finish. (Photos: PhotoNews/Clark Brooks)

"I don't regret the decision," Poe said about making the switch from football to cross country two years ago. Days later back in November, he and the boys' cross country team ran at the IHSA state meet in Peoria. "I'm very thankful for the coach I have and my teammates who have been helping me along. It is not an easy sport."

Career Running Marks
400 Meter Dash 56.25
800 Meter Run 2:07.32
1600 Meter Run 4:51.87
3200 Meter Run 11:10.78
2 Mile 11:36.0
3 Mile 16:21.0
5k 18:11.0
Eric Poe
Clubs & Activities
Track and Field (4 years)
Cross Country (2 years), Football (2 years)
Spanish Club, Spanish Club Leader, NHS, We The People, Advisory Mentoring Program

St. Joseph

One older brother

Hanging out with friends and family, running, and anything related to his extracurricular schedule.

Favorite SJO memories:
His greatest memories at SJO include all of his track and field and cross country athletic events throughout the years and when he qualified for IHSA State in cross country this past fall.

Favorite classes:
All of his history classes and specifically Economics, Civics, along with U.S. History with Mr. Schacht.

Favorite teachers:
Mr. Risley at St. Joseph Middle School and Senor Zak Sutton and Mr. Marshall Schacht at St. Joseph-Ogden High School

United States Naval Academy

Advice to future SJO students:
Work hard because high school is really not that bad.

Commentary: The whole world leads a life of uncertainty

Guest Commentary by Lefcothea-Maria Golgaki

When I am asked why is it that I like my routine so much, the answer is always the same. 'Well, I do, because there is a relative safety in it'.

I am both the scriptwriter and the leading actor and this is my morality play’. Naturally, there are things beyond my competence which I can neither comprehend nor eschew. Nevertheless, I am grateful because every night I go to bed, I retain the faith, somehow, I enjoy the confidence that the next morning the sun and the moon will still be in their places, an asteroid impact will be avoided, an alien will not land on my doorstep.

Yet, it is mathematically certain that at one point we are all going to be faced with some unpalatable prospects. Does this mean that it works to our benefit if things indefinitely remain the same? Literally, this is impossible. Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher believed that change was central to the universe. 'Everything flows, nothing stays still.'

Personally, I like change. To be honest, I often pursue it as it makes me feel alive, it makes me feel powerful.

There have been many times in the past that I took key decisions that resulted in me turning my whole life upside down. The reason was simple; I could do so, because I chose to do so. Therefore, I, a negligible yet complex molecule in the vastness of the universe, can alter my fate, can be master of my own destiny and have the power to dream and plan. So, allow me to summarize.

I have a life, I go through my familiar routine which I adore because it grants me the right to move freely in my sphere of safety and at the same time, I assume full authority to intervene in it whenever I want or need. FULL STOP!

But what happens when my fate is predetermined and placed in the hands of other forces?

Is this always the case and I just deceive myself by having the misconception that I pull the strings? Do I pull my own strings or does a puppeteer manipulate me? And if this is the case, what might happen if the puppeteer decides to go up the stage and start improvising?

Does this mean that if he fancies, he can grab and toss me in the air, or squeeze me and do whatever he wants with me? My fate is then going to be decided in the last minute and I, the poor puppet, face contorted in agony, will have to go up the stage, forever unaware of the outcome of the play. At that point, I am nothing.

Everything I was taught about who I can be or how my decisions affect me and the others, all these are proven ultimately futile. Why? Because now, I do not know the script! I am not the leading actor; not even an extra. Ergo, worse to being controlled, is not having a clue about what will happen next.

Assuming that the puppeteer exists, bound I am not to provoke his wrath. This leaves me with no other option but to hate him.

My friends, it is the year 2020 and now the whole world leads a life of uncertainty. Fear of what is happening has been surpassed by fear of what the future has in store. The consequences of the unknown loom large in this ancient Greek play which can only be described as DRAMA.

About the author:
• Lefcothea-Maria Golgaki has been an ELT teacher for the past 22 years and at the same time works as a freelance writer on English language books, poetry and teaching material for English, American and Greek Publishing Houses.

Senior Spotlights with Dyllan Price, Mimi Allen & Josh Vice

Dyllan Price

Clubs & Activities
Football (2 years)
Baseball (1 year)
Maroon Platoon

St. Joseph

Older sister

Hanging out with friends and family

Favorite SJO memories:
He has had a lot of fun in multiple PE classes throughout his years at SJO. He will also remember the day before spring break in Senor Sutton’s class. "The environment of the class was fantastic."

Favorite classes:
Senora Nelson’s Spanish classes and Ms. Steffen’s match classes.

Favorite teachers:
Mr. William Billman, Senor Zak Sutton, and Mr. Kiel Duval.

Career Plans:
Price plans to enlist in the United States Air Force. He plans to start basic training in July.

Advice to future SJO students:
Try to work hard every day.

Mimi Allen

Clubs & Activities
Track and Field (3 years)
Girls’ Basketball (2 years)

St. Joseph

She has an older brother and sister as well as a younger brother and sister.

Being outside, playing basketball, running and walking.

Favorite SJO memories:
Being a part of the girls’ track and field team and the girls’ basketball team.

Favorite classes:
Both math classes with Mr. Kiel Duval and Ms. Kelly Steffen and her art class with Mr. Jake Beccue.

Favorite teachers:
Mr. Beccue, Mrs. Jennifer Brooks, Mrs. Stacey Kietzman, and Ms. Steffen at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Cincinnati State, majoring in nursing

Advice to future SJO students:
Follow directions, try your best, keep up with all of the work, and to have fun at school.


Clubs & Activities
Drama Club

St. Joseph

Working out at The Zone and helping out at church for the WOW program

Favorite SJO memories:
During his sophomore year when he was member of the stage crew for the fall play.

Favorite classes:
Advanced Biology with Mrs. Stacey Kietzman and Business Law with Mr. Marshall Schacht.

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Bayles at St. Joseph Middle School

Attending Parkland College as undeclared major this fall

Advice to future SJO students:
Take their time learning and maturing and to know that there are plenty of people at the high school to help.

Text & photos provided by St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Senior Spotlights with Ally Monk, Bradley Harrison and Payton Grimsley

Ally Monk

Clubs & Activities
Cross Country (4 years)
Track and Field (4 years)
Maroon Platoon, Student Council

St. Joseph

Two older sisters

Traveling with family, running, and hanging out with family and friends.

Favorite SJO memories:
She has enjoyed being a part of the Maroon Platoon each year. She was also a big part of the Student Council IHSA State Competition, which was a positive experience.

Favorite classes:
Spanish classes with both Senor Zak Sutton and Senora Nelson.

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Dunn at St. Joseph Grade School; Mrs. Huls and Mrs. Risley at St. Joseph Middle School; and Mrs. Chambers, Senora Nelson, and Senor Sutton

University of Missouri majoring in Business Marketing

Advice to future SJO students:
Treat every moment like it’s your last.

Bradley Harrison

Clubs & Activities
Scholastic Bowl, FFA, We The People

St. Joseph

One sister and a younger brother

Playing bass guitar, playing video games, building computers, and kayaking on the Salt Fork River.

Favorite SJO memories:
He has many great memories during his lunch hour with friends.

Favorite classes:
Intro to Ag with Mrs. Duitsman and English 101/102 with Mrs. Heather Lindenmeyer.

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. McDonald at St. Joseph Grade School, Mr. Risley at St. Joseph Middle School, and Mrs. Duitsman and Mrs. Lindenmeyer at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Louisiana State University majoring in Civil Engineering

Advice to future SJO students:
Maintain good grades and to have self-motivation.

Payton Grimsley

Clubs & Activities
Golf (4 years)
Basketball (4 years)
Maroon Platoon, Maroon Platoon Leader, FCA, Future Spartans Mentoring Program

St. Joseph

An older brother

Working out, playing sports, and hanging out with family and friends.

Favorite SJO memories:
He really enjoyed playing in both IHSA regional and sectional golf competitions. He will definitely remember his involvement in the Maroon Platoon over the years, and Payton will always remember all of the home basketball games, especially the Class 2A Regional Championship game hosted by SJO this past February. Payton appreciated the electric environment of this game, and playing in this game was a special moment for him.

Favorite classes:
English 101/102 and Economics

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Dunn at St. Joseph Grade School; Mr. Miller, Mr. Risley, Mrs. Cler, and Mrs. Kinney at St. Joseph Middle School; and Mr. Kiel Duval, Mrs. Jeanna Kerner, Mrs. Heather Lindenmeyer, Mr. Marshall Schacht, Mr. Ryan Searby, and Mr. Jeff Kieffer at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Illinois State University majoring in Business Management

Advice to future SJO students:
Don't overstress about high school in order to have success in the classroom and to get the most out of the four years of high school.

Text & photos provided by St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Senior Spotlights with Lucas Grindley, Alivia Norem & Erica Guelfi

Erica Guelfi

Clubs & Activities
Scholastic Bowl (4 years), Drama Club, Spanish Club, NHS, Band, Rube Goldberg Team, We The People, Student Council-Class Officer & Executive Officer

St. Joseph

A younger brother

Baking, reading, and playing trumpet.

Favorite SJO memories:
They all revolve around all of the extra-curricular activities. She has really enjoyed band all four years and she will always remember the musical All Shook Up during her junior year.

Favorite classes:
Biology, World History, and Physics

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Parrish at St. Joseph Grade School; Mrs. Ford at St. Joseph Middle School; and Mr. Jeff Kieffer, Mr. Ryan Searby, and Mr. Marshall Schacht at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Vanderbilt University majoring Biomedical Engineering

Advice to future SJO students:
Follow your interests and passions and to be involved in what you feel passionate about.

Lucas Grindley

Clubs & Activities
Band (4 years)
NHS, We The People, Scholastic Bowl, Drama Club

St. Joseph

Two older brothers

Playing trombone and working at IGA

Favorite SJO memories:
SJO musical last year during his junior year. He also enjoyed being a part of the boys’ dance team and the man squad this year.

Favorite classes:
U.S. History, Civics, Economics, Spanish, and Band

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Camp at St. Joseph Grade School, Mr. Risley at St. Joseph Middle School. At SJO, Senor Zak Sutton and Mr. Marshall Schacht

Eastern Illinois University majoring in Journalism with a biology minor.

Advice to future SJO students:
Focus on your work because everything will all work out.

Alivia Norem

Clubs & Activities
Maroon Platoon

St. Joseph

An older brother

Playing volleyball, traveling, spending time with friends and driving.

Favorite SJO memories:
Classes she had with her best friend, Anna. She also enjoyed her Advanced Biology class during her junior year. She met so many people in the class and she will never forget the overall environment of the class.

Favorite classes:
Her favorite classes at SJO were Advanced Biology, all of her Science classes, and all of her English classes, especially English 101/102.

Favorite teachers:
Mr. Marshall Schacht, Mrs. Stacey Kietzman, and Mr. Ryan Searby

Parkland College majoring in Business Finance.

Career Goal: To become a financial advisor.

Advice to future SJO students:
Choose empathy and to try to understand everyone before you speak.

Text & photos provided by St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Real Talk: Captain Arteaga is back and ready to lead the Tigers

Earlier this week, Army Captain Drew Arteaga returned home from a eight and half month deployment to Afghanistan. Seven of those months were spent in-country furthering America's mission on preventing terrorism.

Drew Arteaga celebrates a SJO touchdown
Drew Arteaga celebrates a Spartan touchdown in the team's home game against Carterville in September of 2010. SJO rolled to a 36-20 victory after scoring three unanswered second half touchdowns. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
Arteaga, who graduated from St. Joseph-Ogden High School in 2011, enlisted in the national guard in January of 2012 after joining ROTC while a student at Eastern Illinois University. At the end of that semester, he underwent basic military training that May. When he graduated from college with his bachelor's degree he was also commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army.

Later, he was hired to teach Physical Education at Westville High School and became the an assistant coach under long time coach Jeff Millis in 2015. Two years later, he was handed the reigns of the varsity program. He also coaches track and field.

He left on July 27 last year and made it home April 19th after spending two weeks in quarantine. The next day a parade of cars with friends, his players, fire engines and law enforcement vehicles drove by his house in St. Joseph to formally welcome him home and for his service.

"It was incredible to hear all the sirens," Arteaga told WCIA. It was a incredible gesture from the community for the former Spartan football and basketball player. "I'm really thankful for all the people who came by. It really awesome."

Now that he is back, he has a couple of new missions, one that includes his wife of almost two years, Lyndsey, and the other is rebuilding the Westville basketball program.

Here's where we get real with Drew Arteaga.

The Sentinel: What motivated you to serve your country when you signed the Army paperwork?

Arteaga: I always thought being a member of the military would be a neat thing to do. I can still remember where I was during 9/11 and when I had the opportunity to join, I took advantage of it. I will be honest and say one of the reasons I looked at joining was because I needed some financial help to get through college and the military provided me that. Additionally, I think being part of the ROTC program provided me a little more structure and discipline to keep me on the right path during college. Joining was probably one of the top three best decisions of my life.

The Sentinel: What was your first day like in-country?

Arteaga: We knew ahead of time that we were going to one of the most dangerous bases in Afghanistan. It didn't take us long to figure out why when we heard the sirens for an incoming rocket within the first hour of being on ground. After that, it was a day of drinking from a fire hose with all of the information I had to learn from the guy I took over for.

The Sentinel: If you can discuss it, what was the most stressful moment you had to deal with and how did you overcome the situation?

Arteaga: The biggest challenge and most stressful time during the deployment was assisting with the right sizing of our base due to the peace talks with the Taliban. I served as the project manager for over $9.5 million worth of projects in addition to our day to day operations. It was certainly a challenge and my team and I worked long hours to achieve our mission, but I think we did a great job.

Arteaga takes the ball to the paint in SJO's home game against Olympia in 2010. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
The Sentinel: You probably didn't have much down time, but when you did, what did you do to unwind and decompress?

Arteaga: Working out was the best way to unwind and decompress for me. If I wasn't working out then I usually spent time talking to my wife, thinking about basketball, or watching a movie in my room.

The Sentinel: Describe your battle buddy? What made the two of you an invincible team in your unit?

Arteaga: I had two guys that I became very close with during my deployment. One was my boss and the other was the Sergeant Major of our base. We worked out together, ate together, and worked together just about everyday. We built a relationship that we could work together on solving problems and also have fun at the same time. Both of them are outstanding leaders and people. They are incredibly smart, gave clear guidance, and provided experience that they were able to use with all problem sets that we came across. I learned a ton from them and will maintain contact with them for years to come.

The Sentinel: What were the first three things you told yourself you would do when you got back on the trip home? How far are you down the list at this?

Arteaga: This is a good question.

1. As weird as it sounds I really wanted 3 foods- McDonald's, Rochs, and El Toro. I still have yet to go to McDonald's, but the other two were just as good as I remembered.

2. I really want to get back in the gym and weight room with my athletes. Missing this last season was challenging for me and all I want to do is get back with our guys and start getting better for next season. COVID hasn't let that happen yet.

3. I want to start a family. My wife was a trooper the last 8.5 months and after the deployment we feel we are in a good spot to start one. We are still working on that.

The Sentinel: A two-sport athlete in high school, how did that prepare you for the stress of active duty and managing subordinates?

Arteaga (right) talks to a player during the timeout as an assistant coach for the Westville at the 2016 Leader Classic Holiday Tournament. Now the head coach, he is looking forward to begin working on rebuilding the program into a winning culture. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
Arteaga: I think athletics, in general, are a great way for everyone to learn valuable life lessons. There is a long list of ways I think being part of sports in high school helped me, but to keep it short- having time management skills to manage work, personal time, and working out helped make for an easier deployment. Additionally, knowing how to communicate differently with different types of people allowed me to manage my subordinates effectively. Finally, working as a team to accomplish a goal. It is unbelievable what a TEAM can accomplish if people believe in themselves, their peers, and their mutual goals.

The Sentinel: Deployed, you didn't coach the Westville basketball team this past season. Are you looking forward to coaching this fall? What, if anything, did you learn that you will incorporate into your coaching style.

Arteaga: I am chomping at the bit to get back into the gym with our guys. I missed our coaches and players a lot and can't wait to start working with all of them. If I wasn't focusing on work then I was thinking about basketball and how to make our program better. If there is one thing I will bring back to next season it will be being more prepared and efficient in practices and games.

While I was gone I had a lot of time to take a step back and reflect on what we do, why we do them, and things that didn't work as well as I had hoped. There are things that we have to start doing differently if we want to get where we want to go. It starts with me and getting our guys to buy into our goals. I am excited to get back to it.

Governor okays the opening of non-essential businesses, many can reopen on May 1

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today that he will extend the state's stay-at-home order set to expire on April 30 until the end of May. The extension did however come with a relaxation in a few restrictions.

"Make no mistake, Illinois has saved lives. By staying home and social distancing, we have kept our infection and death rates for the months of March and April thousands below the rates projected had we not implemented these mitigation strategies," Gov. Pritzker said.

The number of confirmed cases in Champaign County is at an even 100 patients. Seventy-nine people have recovered and five members of the community have died as a result of the CV-19 virus. As of today the Champaign-Urbana Public Health reports there are 16 active cases in the community.

"I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. But this is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices we’ve made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working — and we need to keep going a little while longer to finish the job," Gov. Pritzker said in his briefing today.

"If we lifted the stay at home order tomorrow, we would see our deaths per day shoot up into the thousands by the end of May. And, that would last well into the summer."

The modified order includes increased flexibility for residents and non-essential businesses, and will require face coverings to be worn while in public. According to a statement from Gov. Pritzker, the new executive order will include more flexibility provisions for many non-essential businesses to get back on their feet.

Here are some of the changes:

OUTDOOR RECREATION: State parks will begin a phased re-opening under guidance from the Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be permitted. A list of parks that will be open on May 1 and additional guidelines can be found on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website HERE. Golf will be permitted under strict safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and when ensuring that social distancing is followed.

NEW ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may re-open as essential businesses. These stores must follow social distancing requirements and must require that employees and customers wear a face covering. Animal grooming services may also re-open.

NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL: Retail stores not designated as non-essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery.

FACE COVERINGS: Beginning on May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can't maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.

ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES AND MANUFACTURING: Essential businesses and manufacturers will be required to provide face-coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain six-feet of social distancing, as well as follow new requirements that maximize social distancing and prioritize the well-being of employees and customers. This will include occupancy limits for essential businesses and precautions such as staggering shifts and operating only essential lines for manufacturers.

SCHOOLS: Educational institutions may allow and establish procedures for pick-up of necessary supplies or student belongings. Dormitory move-outs must follow public health guidelines, including social distancing.

Statewide, Illinois reported 1,826 new cases and another 123 deaths from coronavirus today. There have been 36,934 patients who have tested positive for coronavirus in Illinois, including 1,688 lives lost due the viral infection.

Dumpster Day May 16th

The St.Joseph Public Works will hold Dumpster Day on the morning of May 16th from 7am to 11am at the Sports Complex.

Disposal of unwanted items is limited to residents from Village of St. Joseph and St. Joseph Township. Items that will not be accepted includes yard waste, electronics, batteries, chemicals, paint and tires.

Unlike in past years, there Public Works employees and volunteers won't be onsite to assist with heavy or bulky items.

"Due to Covid-19, staff will not be helping people unload their stuff so make sure you have help to throw your stuff in the dumpsters," the says the department's post on Facebook. "For bigger items there will be tractors on site."

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Spartans react to the news, no spring sports

Pitcher Drew Coursey and Adam Frerichs discuss SJO game strategy on the mound.
Drew Coursey (right) discusses game strategy during a break in the action with catcher Adam Frerichs, a senior, during the Spartans' home baseball game against Westville on March 28, 2019. Coursey, now a senior, and the St. Joseph-Ogden baseball team had their season called to a halt on Tuesday after IHSA announced the spring tournament series was canceled due to healthy and safety concerns while the state continues to suffers from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

In an unprecedented move on Tuesday, the Illinois High School Association officially canceled the spring 2020 sports season.

After Governor J.B. Pritzker's announced during last Friday's to close Illinois schools for the remaining part of the current school year, the IHSA Board of Directors released a statement cancelling all state final competition.

"We support the decision by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education, and given the logistics, we simply felt we could not conduct state tournaments that meet the expectations of our member schools this spring," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson in the media release. "As disappointing as it may be for students, it is the right decision for their health and safety, as well as for the health and safety of the general public, as we cope with this unprecedented pandemic."

While there have been sporadic cancellations in the past by the IHSA, it is the first time in Illinois history that every high school sport in a single season has been suspended.

"Wrestling was canceled due to war, but boys basketball was held that year," said Matt Troha, Assistant Executive Director referring to a brief suspension of several events due to the United State's participation in World War II. The state wrestling meet in 1944 was was one such casualty, but the basketball tournament was held. "So it was hit or miss based on participation."

With prom already out of the equation and the possibly of not sharing the excitement of graduation together, it was yet another bitter pill for seniors at SJO. The Sentinel caught up with five of them from three different sports to get their reactions to yesterday's news. Like many of their teammates, these Spartans saw the writing on the wall and were mentally prepared for the inevitable, unavoidable decision.

When I heard the news officially, I didn’t have much of a reaction. I feel like I’ve just been waiting for the IHSA to officially announce the cancellation for weeks. When I heard Governor Pritzker cancelled school, in my mind that was the final cancellation so today’s news didn’t make much of an impact for me. Yeah, I’m disappointed. I wanted to go out of sports on my own terms and ending my career this spring after baseball was my own terms. Sometimes plans change and life gets in the way, so I’ll come to terms with it and move on.

Drew Coursey

After I heard about the cancellation, I was just devastated for my friends and all the seniors who never got to have a senior night. Some of my classmates have been training for this season all year, and for them to never get that experience, my heart just aches.

For me, I’ve been coming to terms with it a little as this situation has transpired. It seemed inevitable to me that this would happen as I looked at the changes happening in our country. For me, it’s more just feeling for my friends and teammates. I was blessed to have an amazing fall sports season, and I’m so upset that my fellow spring sport athletes won’t get that opportunity in their particular sports. Our spring sports teams would’ve been pretty unstoppable as a whole, and it’s terribly unfortunate that we now won’t even get a chance to compete.

Lindsey Aden

When they cancelled school I had a pretty strong idea that that meant the end of my career. Still, when the season was called it was a feeling I couldn’t describe, like something was ripped out of my life prematurely. It’s important to stay positive, now I’m ready to start the college sports and school experience!

Brayden Weaver

I’m sad that the season is over but knew it would be over. It was a hard decision for IHSA to do but we all knew it was going to happen. Having time to prepare ourselves did help. I surely don’t think all of our training is a waste. It’s hard not being able to show what we have on the track but it’s not a disappointment either. I’m glad I’m still training like I am even if the season would’ve been going on. One way or another, I’ll show my training off and my capability in college since I’ll continue doing athletics.

Jillian Plotner
Girls Track

- I feel like the news was inevitable. I know the health and well being of everyone is more important than baseball. This time off has taught me a lot and realizing that there is more to life than sports is important. I loved my time playing baseball and I will never forget it; however, right now I just want this whole pandemic to end as soon as possible. When I heard the news I had just finished taking senior baseball pictures with my mom. The news is heart breaking, but I hope everyone can come to peace with it.

Sam Wesley

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

We will learn together: Real Talk with SJO teacher Robert Glazier

Like thousands of teachers throughout Illinois, veteran St. Joseph-Ogden science teacher Robert Glazier is enriching young minds in an environment they never imagined.

Glazier, who retired two years ago after a 30 year teaching career at SJO, is teaching two physics classes from his home via video conferencing software. When he began teaching 35 years ago the internet, formally referred to as the world wide web, did not exist. Now he using it as he primarily tool to communicate with students in a virtual classroom.

The Sentinel caught with one of the student body's favorite teachers and observing strict social distancing fired off five questions with the help of Twitter to get a snapshot on how home teaching was going for long time assistant Spartan football coach.

Sentinel: Is this the first time you have taught classes via the internet?

Glazier: Yes.

Sentinel: Is it easier or harder to teach high school physics via video/web communications software?

Glazier: Much harder. Physics is a lab class and requires demonstrations, labs and etc. Plus, I enjoy the interaction with students as I lecture. That doesn’t happen as well on line.

Sentinel: I totally forgot about physic lab experiments. How have you been handling those in the new e-classroom environment?

Glazier: Honestly, I haven’t. This is all very new to me. I told the kids when this started, we will learn together this way. We will get through it though.

Sentinel: In numerous Spartan Spotlights students have mentioned your name as one of their favorite high school teachers. It seems you genuinely care about your students and seeing them succeed. What do you enjoy about teaching?

Glazier: The interaction with them is always fun. They have fresh ideas. New ways of looking at things. I just enjoy being around them.

Sentinel: Hypothetically, if students have to return to the e-learning environment for classes this fall, and now that you have more experience under your belt, what would you change to enhance their education?

Glazier: Find more YouTube videos to help with the lectures and lack of labs.

Taking nothing for granted, Spartan Spotlight with Sam Wesley

A little more than a week ago, The Sentinel asked St. Joseph-Ogden senior Sam Wesley what lessons he thought the Class of 2020 will learn from the last six weeks of living through a pandemic. With the likely possibility that the spring sports season will be canceled later today, no prom and possible to mass celebration with fellow graduates at a commencement ceremony, we wanted to know what lessons he thought from this unprecedented time in life in America they would carry with them into the future.

It was an easy question for Wesley. You see, he just turned in a paper on the topic for his English class and provided an excerpt:

"Going into my senior year we all had goals to come away as State Champions. We all knew we had the potential to do it. We had the pitching, hitting, and everything needed to be the one baseball team that went through SJO and came away as champions. Instead, this season has taught everyone many life lessons. Do not take anything for granted. Never complain about practice or games or anything. Give all of your love to the game and play every pitch with the mentality that it could be your last. As I walked off the field, for potentially the last time, all of the memories flooded my mind. I will never love a sport as much as I love baseball and I am in everlasting debt to this game. Thank you for all the friends, memories, and countless lessons I have learned since I was three. I will never lose my love for this beautiful game."

"I would just say for everyone to never take anything for granted because things can be taken away at unexpected times," he said. "It is important to cherish the things that are most important to you."

This morning, one of things Wesley was looking forward to his senior year finally was taken away. The Illinois High School Association canceled all spring sports for the 2019-2020 season, a crushing call for Wesley and his teammates who were indeed, with their stacked roster, a favorite from this area to reach the state finals.

For a guy who admits he is guilty of using the phrase 'I don't care' a little to way too often, well, he really does.

He added, "I think people in general need to refrain from using this because opinions are important and need to be heard."

One of the things he does care about before heading off a hop, skip and jump over to the University of Illinois this fall where he will major in Agricultural Accounting and where his older sister, Hannah, is also studying, is learning to cook his favorite dish.

"I need to learn how to make breakfast casseroles," Wesley confessed. "I love breakfast food and it is easy to microwave and eat quickly so that could be an important dish."

During his high school career, the St. Joseph native who lives with mother and father, was a four-year member of the SJO baseball team and played three season of football for the Spartans. He was also a member of AMP, Spanish Club and the Maroon Platoon as well as participated in the Future Spartans Mentoring Program.

SJO senior Sam Wesley

His participation in a wide variety of activities at SJO created a number of cherished memories. The majority of them are from playing his favorite sport, baseball.

At end of his first season with the Spartans his freshman year, the Spartan baseball team advanced to the IHSA State Baseball Tournament in Peoria. He was a part of the team that brought home the program's second consecutive second-place baseball state trophy despite a 10-2 loss to Teutopolis.

His most vivid memory was etched last spring when SJO faced Tuscola in their postseason sectional title game at Illinois Wesleyan University.

"The game was unforgettable because of the atmosphere and the energy the crowd created around us. Stepping foot on the field and feeling a whole community cheer for you is something that is really powerful," he reminisced. "Also, I have played with Logan Tabeling and Lucas Kresin (two players from Tuscola) for five years during the summer.

"The competition was on a whole different level. I respect their game and am excited to see what they can do at each of their respective universities."

When it comes to academics, Wesley really enjoyed going to all the classes he wanted to take at SJO. He credited the faculty and the amount of care they provide as the main reason high school was a really positive experience for him.

"They are always willing to go out of their way to help the students. Every teacher I know has an open door policy and if we have problems with anything we can go to them," he said. "I find this to be very important because it allows students to open up and everyone knows that they have someone supporting them. That is what makes SJO really special, not only as a school, but as a community."

His favorite classes were Economics with Mr. Marshall Schacht, Calculus with Mrs. Kelly Steffen, and English 101/102 with Mrs. Heather Lindenmeyer.

Wesley has compiled a long list of favorite teachers. Many favorite teachers including Mrs. Dunn, Mr. Miller, Mr. Risley, and Mr. Steele at St. Joseph Grade School and St. Joseph Middle School. At SJO, his favorite teachers are Mrs. Jeanna Kerner, Mr. Zak Sutton, Mr. Schacht, Mrs. Steffen, and Mrs. Lindenmeyer.

His hobbies include hanging out with family and friends and traveling. In fact, he loves to travel. His top three places to visit include Cancun, Ireland and Alaska.

"If I could choose three places (to go), the first one would be Cancun," he offered as his first choice. "I love the beach and the ocean and being able to spend time in a tropical place is always fun."

Considering his strong family values, the next two places on his list are for sentimental reasons, especially a trip to Alaska.

My sister has always wanted to do a family vacation (in Ireland), so traveling with her there someday is a goal of mine," Wesley said. "My grandpa died when I was six years old and his goal was always to take my grandma to Alaska for a trip. I would love to go with her because she has never been able to go."

It is official, IHSA cancels spring sports season

In response to Governor J.B. Pritzker's announcement last Friday to suspend all in-school learning throughout the state, the Board of Directors for the Illinois High School Association met this morning to officially end the 2020 spring sports season.

In the release below, Executive Director Craig Anderson said the IHSA supports the governor's decision as well as the ISBE and believes it is the right decision for continued public safety as well as for the health and safety of the athletes, coaches, officials and their families.

Full release:

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for their April meeting via a video conference call on Tuesday, April 21, where the Board of Directors announced its decision to cancel all IHSA spring state tournaments. The decision to cancel the spring state tournaments comes in conjunction with Friday’s (April 17) announcement by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education that all Illinois high schools will complete the 2019-20 school term from home via e-learning.

"We support the decision by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education, and given the logistics, we simply felt we could not conduct state tournaments that meet the expectations of our member schools this spring," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "As disappointing as it may be for students, it is the right decision for their health and safety, as well as for the health and safety of the general public, as we cope with this unprecedented pandemic."

The IHSA offers state tournaments in the following sports and activities in the spring: Girls Badminton, Boys Gymnastics, Bass Fishing, Boys & Girls Track & Field, Boys & Girls Water Polo, Girls Soccer, Boys Tennis, Boys & Girls Lacrosse, Boys Volleyball, Baseball, and Softball.

The Board also determined that summer contact days are suspended for this year, unless state government and medical leaders indicate such gatherings are safe. At that time, the Board indicated a willingness to reconsider how summer contact might be conducted and whether opportunities for schools to conduct some kind of spring athletic events might occur.

"Once it is determined safe to return, we will provide a detailed outline to our schools on the plan for summer contact days and possibly some kind of spring athletic events," said Anderson. "Including if the number of days and dates that coaches can meet with athletes has been altered. At this point, though, all that is dependent upon state government and medical leaders giving the go ahead for such."

"Our thoughts right now are with all the impacted students, coaches and communities. Especially the seniors," said Anderson. "It will be difficult for them to find a silver lining in all of this, but we stress that even if they don’t get the chance to compete again at the high school level, they are better for having been a part of their respective high school teams. By participating in high school sports and activities, they were exposed to life lessons in teamwork, leadership, and overcoming adversity that are difficult to replicate elsewhere. The latter is applicable now more than ever. We hope that we can band together and refocus all our efforts on supporting the doctors, nurses, first responders, and all the other essential personnel who are putting their health and safety on the line each day to keep us safe."

The IHSA will continue to communicate with and monitor briefings from state officials, and based on those timelines, provide updates to its member schools as it relates to potential spring participation and summer contact days.

"The possibility of playing a spring sport game this summer is about closure," said Anderson. "If we are able to offer this opportunity, no student-athlete would be restricted by having already practiced or competed with a non-school team.”

Monday, April 20, 2020

Enjoy every moment, Spartan Spotlight with Katelyn Berry

Katelyn Berry has some good advice for future SJO students.

"Enjoy every moment, do not take anything for granted, and to live every moment to the fullest," said the senior, who thinks SJO is simply a great place to be.

"The coronavirus pandemic has made me realize that I shouldn’t ever take anything for granted. I realized that you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone, " she explained. "This will definitely make me feel more grateful for everything I have."

Berry, a four-year veteran in the St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball program, was involved in a number of organizations in high school. She was a member of NHS, the Advisory Mentoring Program, the Future Spartans Mentoring Program, Spanish Club and the Maroon Platoon. She was also on Student Council and played basketball for one season.

"Going to SJO was special for me because I made incredible friendships and memories through volleyball," she said. "I had some of the best teachers throughout my years at SJO, and I had some of the most memorable experiences in all of the activities I was involved in at SJO."

Her favorite classes over the years were Advanced Spanish III with Sr. Zak Sutton and Civics and Economics with Mr. Marshall Schacht, who she notes is one of her favorite high school teachers. She added that Mrs. Stone and Mr. Risley were her two favorite teachers at St. Joseph Middle School.

In addition to speaking Spanish, the St. Joseph native said she would also like to learn French, German and Italian some day.

This fall, Berry will join the student body at the University of Missouri to major in health sciences. Her career goal will be focused on o becoming a licensed physical therapist, something she decided on almost two years ago after suffering a sports injury.

"I realized I wanted to be a physical therapist when I tore my ACL sophomore year during club volleyball season," she said. "I had to spend seven months going to physical therapy and being in that atmosphere made me realize that I could see myself doing that as a career one day.

"A lot of people don’t enjoy going to physical therapy, but I noticed that I actually liked being there," she added.

Berry was a key figure in the Spartan volleyball team's 37-5 record and third-place state finish back in November. She finished her final season with SJO with over 250 kills, 169 digs and 18 service aces in 2019.

She loves the atmosphere of big games, the one's where there is so much energy in the air you can reach out an touch it.

"Even though we were hours away from home, our fans showed up and made the place have so much energy that really helped us through that game," Berry said, describing the 'incredible atmosphere' during SJO's thrilling supersectional match against Chicago Christian. Another game she will remember is the Spartans' road match at St. Thomas More game her junior year. "We beat them in three sets. Once again, our student section showed up and they really made it even more enjoyable to play."

Poised with a high level of mental toughness, Berry is the player you on the floor with you in a match when your team is the underdog facing overwhelming odds. In crucial moments during a game, she might bend but can't be broken. The higher the stakes, the tougher, more focused she becomes. Giving up nor giving in, neither don't appear to be an option her book.

"I always try telling myself to stay calm. It’s a lot easier to play when you’re up on the scoreboard," she said. "So whenever we were down I would just remind myself to think about what you’re playing for. We were playing for a trophy all season long and I was constantly reminding myself of that."

On Friday nights during football season Berry was on the sidelines responsible for keeping offensive stats. Following in the footsteps of her older sister who was a statistician when she was in high school, she became a stat girl after Lindsey Aden, a really good friend was a stat girl her sophomore year, recruited her the fall of their junior year.

"To be a stat girl, you have to really focus on the game the entire time," she said. "A lot is happening really quickly and you have to get it all down."

In her free time, she likes to hang out with her family, which consist of her parents and two siblings - an older sister and an older brother - as well as friends.

When she's chilling with family and friends she likes to go to Marble Slab for ice cream, play monopoly, and watch movies.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

SJO rolling with pandemic punches, 2020 graduation still possible

"The science says students can't go back to their normal routine," said Governor J.B. Pritzker on Friday before making the announcement that Illinois schools would remain closed for the remainder of the academic 2019-2020 year. Two minutes into his daily briefing, he dropped the hammer that students, especially seniors hoped would not fall. "We know there are many school districts with unique challenges and we will work with them on issues as the need arise."

With remote learning already in progress for several weeks, St. Joseph CCSD #169 superintendent Brian Brooks said the district really didn't have any major hurdles that needed to be cleared to finish out the school year.

"The challenges are now geared towards how we wrap up the school year with students and staff without having them physically in the building," he said. "Remote learning has been far from perfect, and I’m sure very frustrating at times for both students and staff."

Brooks said he is very impressed with how students and staff throughout the district has responded to the new and hopefully temporary normal. Hopefully, by the time the Class of 2021 is ready to take their first step into the hallways at St. Joseph-Ogden High School in August, the infectious danger will be minimal.

Students and teachers are looking forward to returning to the brick mortar setting. However, the return to normal could be short-lived with prominent epidemiologists and immunologists warning a second wave or resurgence is possible.

In the absence of a vaccine and immunity through exposure, countries around the world may need to continue social distancing into 2022 to prevent critical care units according to a projections in a Harvard study published in Science.

"One of the biggest challenges for our teachers is reaching every student, and then being able to motivate every student to keep pushing and moving forward academically," Brooks explained. "I, like probably everyone else, sincerely hope we don’t return to remote learning, stay at home order, or shelter in place situation again this fall, but if we were to ever have to do this in the future, yes I do think students and staff will be more prepared."

In the mean time, Brooks and his team are looking at ways the district safely provide a commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020.

There are several ideas in consideration. One is to replicate various portions of the ceremony, video those things happening while observing social distancing protocols, and then put it all together into a single production to give graduates a sense of a "true graduation ceremony."

"We want our graduates to be able to walk across the stage with their cap and gown on, and their parents/guardians be able to take a picture of that," he said. "If it means doing it one graduate at a time so that we stay within the guidelines and keep everyone safe. We hope to have details finalized and information to be pushed out over the next week or two."

Brooks said it is "absolutely heartbreaking for both the Class of 2020 and their families." The district is going to do everything it can so that SJO seniors can have the best possible experience considering the extraordinary circumstances.

That includes possibly holding graduation later in the summer.

"We are certainly not opposed to doing a traditional ceremony in the summer, and would relish that opportunity for our graduates, but we want to prepare as if that isn’t going to be allowed so that we can hopefully offer our graduates something that will be memorable for them."

Gov. Pritzker acknowledged that seniors this year will leave school in a way that they never expected, a sentiment that extends school staff and the parents of the Class 2020.

"I know you are feeling sad about missing the rituals of senior prom, senior pranks, senior nights and of course graduation," attempting connect with the emotions thousands of senior around the state listening to his address. "Hear it from me as your Governor: There is room for you to feel all those things big and small. You will get through this, too."

The Governor said this year's seniors will talk about this moment in history, remembering it for the rest of their lives. He spoke assuredly that this class of Illinois high school students would go on to do amazing things despite missing customs enjoyed by generations before them.

With group protests over the governor's shelter-in-place order starting mirror those in other states along with and a slight increase in citizens around the country disregarding social distancing protocols over the past week, the curve public health agencies are trying to flatten could rise. Sadly, that would put any plans of a live ceremony by the district in jeopardy.

Brooks admitted that "a mass gathering of 2,000 people any time this summer is probably becoming less realistic as each day goes by."

"There is nothing we can say or do that will replace what (our seniors) have lost," he said.

Graduating from college in 2020? Let us know

From the very start The Sentinel has publish the names of graduates from our area who have earned degrees from colleges and universities around the state.

Graduates whose names were omitted from our list such as in this linked story - please know it was not intentional - was due to the lack information supplied by their college public relations department.

University communications and public affair offices typically provide or make available lists of fall and spring graduates by zip code. Quite often students living off-campus supply their school address in the city they live while attending school as their contact address instead of their hometown address.

This also happens when The Sentinel and other news organizations publish semester or quarterly Dean's List and Honor Roll accolades.

Are you graduating from a two or four-year institution this May? Is your son, daughter or grandchild earning a college degree, a masters or their doctorate?

The Sentinel would be more than happy to share your graduate's academic accomplishment, so by golly don't be shy and let us know about it. We here to help celebrate the milestone with friends and neighbors in our community. Your news may help inspire a student in high school or junior high to reach for the stars.

Submit the information below with as much information as possible. Then email them to us at


• Student’s full name and a contact email address
• A brief description of the graduate including future plans, special achievements, activities, employer etc.
• Name of college or university graduating from
• Major
• Degree earned (for college graduates)
• Year graduating from SJO (if applicable)

Please include your name and telephone number or name and email/phone number for parent or guardian if we need to verify the submitted information at the bottom of the email.