SJO Cheer qualifies for ICCA state championships

FARMINGTON - On Saturday, the St. Joseph-Ogden competitive cheer team qualified for the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches State Cheer Competition on January 6- 7 at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield. The Spartan cheer squad finished seventh out of 16 teams at the Farmington Invitational on Saturday.

Madelyn George and Spartan cheerleaders lead fans in a cheer during a timeout at the Toyota of Danville Classic basketball tournament earlier this month. On Saturday, the cheer team qualified for the ICCA state championships in January.

Photo: PhotoNews Media

"I’m very excited for this team to experience ICCA Championships," said St. Joseph-Ogden head coach Emily Wise. "Many of the cheerleaders have never competed before. The team has put in a lot of work in and out of practice."

Wise is happy with her team's accomplishment, especially considering their youth and lack of experience. Their over-all work ethic and practice culture have paid its first of many dividends. Five freshmen and five juniors make up the 10-girl squad.

"They have spent countless hours at practice and pushed themselves to a new level these past couple of weeks. I’m so proud their hard work paid off this past weekend," Wise said.

The team will be working even harder for a successful performance in Springfield next month. There are a few things they will be working on to be competitive with the veteran programs they will cheer against.

"The team will be perfecting their current skills as well as growing new skills. Such as stronger motions, louder voices, and added difficulty," Wise said."

Members of the squad include juniors Addison Funk, Madelyn George, Samantha Uden, Charley Wright, and Ava Worley. The remainder of the squad are all freshmen, which includes Iris Davis, Leah Gaines, Faith Jackson, Peighton Reim, and Ava Smoot.

"SJO Cheer has come such a long way since the beginning of the year," Wise added. "This is such a talented team and I can’t wait to see what all they accomplish this season."

Farmington Invitational Results
Small School Varsity Division
 1st Knoxville
 2nd New Berlin
 3rd Oakwood
 4th Salt Fork
 5th Farmington
 6th Illini Bluff
 7th St. Joseph-Ogden
 8th Brimfield
 9th Monmouth-Roseville
10th Eureka
11th ROWVA Williamsfield
12th Sherrard
13th Williamsville
14th Abingdon-Avon
15th St. Thomas More
16th Prairie Central

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Guest Commentary | We all have a lot of Christmas stories

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

Christmas is always changing. The biblical story never changes but your story is always changing. How we celebrate and view the story of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus may change throughout life. We view the story one way as children but then the story matures as we age.

We all have a lot of Christmas stories. I remember a large family. My mother came from a large family as did my dad. They all had children so the total number of family we felt connected to was great. The years have passed by and my mother and father have passed as have all their siblings and many of their children. The people we related to, heard from and spent Christmas with has changed. They no longer exist. Many of us have lost spouses and buried children and thus our Christmas has changed.

The story of Christmas is the same but it’s not the same. For some of us we have a difficult time even recognizing Christmas. What once brought us laughter, joy and even peace may no longer exist.

How you spend Christmas this year may be a distant memory next year. What you may dread or enjoy this Christmas may not even be possible next year.

In reality, very few of our Christmases ever look totally the same. Finances change. Jobs changes. Health changes. Death robs us of loved ones. Our residences sometimes change.

Mary and Joseph certainly never celebrated Christmas ever again the way they celebrated their first one. The birth of Jesus in a stable and placed in a manger will always stand out as the Christmas we will remember about that family. Hopefully they had a few easier Birthday celebrations for Jesus in the years ahead. Although it seems they may have had many more difficult ones as Jesus’ father Joseph soon disappeared from the Biblical narrative. We don’t know if Joseph died or left but his absence had to be a hardship on Mary and her family.

The story of the first family of Christmas was filled with ups and downs. What Jesus would face later in life was excruciating for his mother and siblings and certainly for him.

The end of Jesus’ life story is the best part. The story for Jesus ends well. He was abused, humiliated, lived-in poverty, executed but came out of his tomb as the living son of God. According to the scriptures he was seen by hundreds of people. The person who had to be more thrilled than all in seeing Jesus after his death had to be his mother. The way she would experience and celebrate Christmas, her son’s birthday, would forever be changed.

Her Christmas story became an amazing story of victory, triumph and great hope. Her story changed and it got better.

My prayer for us all is that we each will experience hope, peace and victory in our ever-changing Christmas story.


He is the author of 13 books including UncommSense, the Spiritual Chocolate series, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to


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New Champaign-Urbana Artist Collective meets this Wedesday at the Art Bar

URBANA - The City of Urbana’s Arts & Culture Program and the University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts are co-sponsoring for the kick-off event for the newly formed CU BIPOC Artist Collective. Wednesday's gathering is the first in what will be a regularly scheduled quarterly gathering of the talented and creative individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color in the local community.

Hosted by the Gallery Art Bar in downtown Urbana, the collective will discuss the future of the BIPOC artist community in Champaign-Urbana and provide an opportunity for BIPOC artists to connect with others in the community while enjoying refreshments at Main Street Urbana's newest business addition.

The event welcomes all creatives, makers and performers of art, and storytellers from the twin cities who identify as BIPOC to stop by, absorb the collective creative vibe, and connect with fellow artists over refreshments from 6 to 9 p.m. The first 40 guests to arrive will receive a special 'goodie bag'.

The Gallery Art Bar is located at 121 West Main in Urbana.

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