SJO Graduation: An outstanding class says farewell

One of the most attractive things about St. Joseph-Ogden High School is the small town values that permeates throughout the school's culture. The commitment to family, friends and the community to not only succeed, but excel is a core value in academics, the arts, activities and of course, athletics. The level of caring and support is sometimes immeasurable.

"There is a culture of high expectations," St. Joseph-Ogden principal Gary Page said about not only the impressive academic accomplishment achieved by this year's senior class, but of the student body and faculty as a whole. Sixty-six percent of the members of the Class of 2019 graduated with a grade point average of 3.0, a 'B' or better. "It is the positive competitiveness they have with each other, but at the same time they are always supporting each other."

Keanen Swanson escorts classmate Rylee Walsh
Keanen Swanson escorts classmate Rylee Walsh during Saturday's graduation processional. One hundred and eighteen seniors received their diplomas before a near capacity gymnasium of family and friends. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Cole Zaccarelli was apprehensive when he and his family moved into the area three years ago. Coming from a much larger community in Texas, he was sure there would be fewer opportunities to enjoy. It didn't take long for his mind to change.

"St. Joe has everything you could possibly imagine. Just the fact that our class (cumulative) GPA was 3.3. That's insane," he said proudly. "The number of things I've experienced, like going to play in an All-Star (football) game in Texas, the tradition of going to state and watching the state football championships; those are things I will always remember."

Nick Boggs, who will start Butler University's pharmacy program this fall, said he will always remember the Spartans' run to winning the 2016 state basketball title and getting kicked out of prom his junior year with his girlfriend.

"That was pretty fun," he said smiling from ear to ear. "It's a good memory for my girlfriend and I."

He had nothing by praises for school that just became his Alma Mater.

"St. Joe is a really good school. We have great teachers, great friends and a really good community," he said immediately. "My mom and my dad are really proud of me."

Hopefully, he won't forget his first home varsity run last month, either. His baseball season isn't over quite yet. Boggs and Spartans won a regional baseball title less than 24 hours before he graduated with honors from SJO. The Spartans advanced to a sectional semifinal against fellow Illini Prairie Conference rival Bloomington Central Catholic.

"Our offense was okay, but not terrible," Boggs said about the 3-1 win over Monticello. "We've got figure it out for the next game."

Erinn Miller described graduation day as bitter sweet. Her immediate plans includes attending St. Louis University to study nursing.

"It sad because you are leaving all your friends that you have been with for a really long time. It is also pretty exciting," Miller said. "I'm kind of sad to leave my family, but it will be okay."

Her advice to the Class of 2020 and beyond was simple. Get involved.

"Definitely try everything. If there is a class you want to take or join or club, do it. You might something you really like."

Zaccarelli's message for the upcoming senior class was similar to Miller's recommending that everyone experience should try to experience everything they can.

"You don't have to fit any kind of demographic. Experience as many things as you can."

SJO Class Officers of 2019

Miss Rylee Sjuts
Miss Hannah Lewis
Miss Kalli Ingram
Mr. Justyn Frisby

Seniors in National Honor Society

Cassidy Danielle Bagby, Adam Douglas Frerichs, Benjamin Duane Setterdahl, Nicholas Ryan Boggs, Hannah Elaine Lewis, Jacob Anthony Shaw, Rebecca Michelle Campbell, Keely Ireland McCorkle, Kaitlin Marie Shoviak, Kayla Nicole Cañas, Erinn Catherine Miller, Grant Edward Siegmund, Emmy Noelle Daniels, Eve Frances Owens, Rylee Mareka Sjuts, Nathan Taylor Emmert, Adam Patrick Rose, Brianna Grace Suits, Emilie Louise Fox, Abigail Kaylyn Grace Schlueter and Maclayne Kathryn Taylor.

St. Joseph-Ogden High School Class of 2019

Sullivan Michael Alwes
Gage Andrew Atwood
Cassidy Danielle Bagby
Erin Marie Beyers
Kaylee Lillian-Elizabeth Blanchard
Nicholas Ryan Boggs
Joel Tucker Branson
Jarett David Burnett
Makayla Nicole Buskirk
Brooke Rose Butorac
Rebecca Michelle Campbell
Ripley Steven Campbell
Kayla Nicole Cañas
Daniel Robert Carlson
Sarah Chahine Hannah
Dwight Colvin Nathan
Jackson Rilee Cook
Aiden Matthew Coon
Amanda Jo Craddock
Ashtyn Crosby Cromwell
Peyton Grace Crowe
David Andrew Cummins
Emmy Noelle Daniels
Liam Morris Davis
Chloe Marie Duckett
Abigail Marie Dunham
Avery Mary Margaret Edwards
Griffin Kayne Emery-Carlson
Nathan Taylor Emmert
Emory Lynn Ericksen
Jasmine Marie Febus
Michael Peyton Foreman
Emilie Louise Fox
Cole Scott Franzen
Adam Douglas Frerichs
Justyn Isaac Frisby
Bryce Steven Froeschl
Lane Michael Gaskin
Rachel Lynn Gherna
Grant Joseph Goff
Haley Elizabeth Griebat
Kaleb Tanner Harshbarger
Mikayla Svetlana Harshbarger
Kaitlyn Marie Hess
Zachary Alan Hill
Kalli Elizabeth Ingram
Kaden Michael Jacobs
Michelle Nicole Jervis
Caleb Lynn Johnson
Geoffrey Dylan Johnson
Jake James Juday
Kassandra Leigh Kelso
Kenneth Elijah-Lewis Lahners
Ethan Andrew Landreth
Elaine Lewis Benjamin
James Logan Jacob
Sally Michelle Manalo
Kyler Kendrick Master
Keely Ireland McCorkle
Isiah Robert McCune
Tianna Marie McCune
Shelby Elizabeth Schriber McElroy
Aiden Bradley Meyer
Erinn Catherine Miller
Ryan Michael Miller
Megan Kristina Mitchell
Caroline Elizabeth Moore
Tyler Wade Moore
Jonah Wesley Morris
Heidi Marie Novak
Joel Aiden Orcutt
Eve Frances Owens
Angela Joyce Palmer
Reid Curtis Patton
Karsyn Michelle Peters
Raymond Jerold Plotner
Adam Jeffrey Lewis Porter
Kathryn Marie Poulter
Lindsey Dale Pryor
Hannah Jo Quick
Joseph Paul Rajlich
Benjamin Christian Reitmeier
Annelise Korra Rhoads
Hanson Eugene Rieches
Adam Patrick Rose
Libby Marie Rowland
Madison Rosalie Rubin
Niko Xavier-Laurence Russell
Shane Christopher Allen Sabin
Abigail Kaylyn Grace Schlueter
Elizabeth Jo Schluter
Samantha Rae Schmidt
Kabriel Michael Schuster
Duane Setterdahl
Anthony Shaw
Kaitlin Marie Shoviak
Grant Edward Siegmund
Rylee Mareka Sjuts
Nicholas Robert Skelton
Clare Wonder Smith
Kamryn Averie Smith
Savannah Elizabeth Smith
Isabella Rome Spisok
Brianna Grace Suits
Keanen Michael Swanson
Maclayne Kathryn Taylor
Bree Ann Trimble
Dillon David Uken
Nathan Rea Walden
Rylee Renee Walsh
John Patrick Ward
Seth Alexander Wedig
Jacob Victor Wendling
Conner Alexander White
Alyssa Renee Whitlock
Karringten Kalista Winn
Wade Monroe Wronke
Cole Richard Zaccarelli

Three SJO relay squads advance to boys state meet

Three St. Joseph-Ogden athletes and as many relay squads from the team qualified for this weekend's Illinois High School Association boys state meet in Charleston.

Nolan Peacock and Hayden Knott were the only two Spartans to advance to the state meet in the field events.

Peacock will compete against a talented group of 34 high flying vaulters in the Class 1A pole vault. The junior cleared 11 feet-9 inches, good for a second place sectional finish, to qualify for a spot in Thursday's preliminary round.

St. Joseph-Ogden's Aiden Meyer
St. Joseph-Ogden's Aiden Meyer looks for running room after snagging a pass in the Spartans' first-round, road playoff game against Monticello in October last fall. Meyer, who suffered an injury during the meet, will continue his athletic career after high school electing to play football at St. Ambrose University. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

The competition for Peacock will be stacked pretty high at state. The top sectional qualifier, Kyle Kruhtoff from Erie-Prophetstown, has raised the bar even before he and his competitors has laid eyes on the Eastern Illinois University campus. After winning last year's state pole vault title at 15 feet-6 inches, he leads all entrants state-wide in the event at 16 feet-even.

This will be Knott's second consecutive trip to O'Brien Stadium to state. As a freshman he qualified for state in the discus throw, a feat he was unable to duplicate this season. Instead, he will be throwing the metal ball down range as far as he can with the hopes of making the cut into Saturday's shot put finals.

Knott earn fourth place finishes in both the shot and discus at the sectional meet hosted by the Spartans on Friday. He sent the discus 132 feet and 1 inch and chucked the shot 49 feet-3.25 inches for his best meet marks.

Lane Gaskin hopes end his SJO track career on a high note. The senior will run in Thursday's 200-Meter Dash and in possibly two of the three relay prelims on Thursday. He ran a 23 second-flat sectional time, which is the 19th best in the state, and will need to lop off about a half second to make the cut into Saturday's championship race.

With Gaskin in the mix, SJO turned the sixth best sectional 4x100-Meter Relay time at 43.39. Joined by Brady Buss, Aiden Meyer and Dwight Colvin, Gaskin & Co. will face speedy quartets from Pana, DuQuoin and Rushville-Industry and should medal in the event.

The relay to watch will be the 4x200. The speedy foursome of Colvin, Brady Buss, Kaleb Harshbarger and Gaskin from the four-by-one will have a bulleye on their backs and are one of two squads, coincidentally from the same area of the state, to beat. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley enter the event sharing the top sectional time of 1:31 heading into the Thursday prelims.

Later, Buss, Meyer, Ethan Vanliew, Keanen Swanson and Harshbarger combined for a time of 3:31.58 in the 4x400-Meter Relay. The group finished sixth in their sectional and will have to shave at least four seconds off their time to find a spot in the championship race on Saturday.

Despite finishing third in the 4x800-Meter Relay with Swanson, Eric Poe, Isiah McCune and Brandon Mattsey, the Spartans' 8:37.97 missed the cut.

SJO finished fourth in the team competition last Friday with 55 points behind Urbana University High School (3rd, 58 points), Maroa-Forsyth (2nd, 87 points) and meet champions Salt Fork. The Storm clearly dominated the day with 111 points.

Admission to this year's state meet is $10.00 per day and parking near the stadium is $5.00 per day. Tickets for Thursday's preliminary round go on sale at 9am at the O'Brien Stadium box office. Tickets for Saturday's finals will be available starting at 8am.

Correction: According to the results submitted to the IHSA, Gaskin, Meyer, Kaleb Harshbarger and Ethan Vanliew ran 3:31.58 in the 4x400-Meter Relay. The time was actually turned in by Brady Buss, Ethan Vanliew, Keanen Swanson and Kaleb Harshbarger. The 4x200 squad that ran the state qualifying time was made up of Dwight Colvin, Buss, Harshbarger and Lane Gaskin. Head coach Jason Retz confirmed that Aiden Meyer was injured and did not run in either race.

Letters: SB 7 is a bad idea

State lawmakers are pushing the legalization of “super weed.”

The 500-plus page bill (SB 7) that was introduced earlier this month in Springfield should greatly alarm parents and grandparents:

This is the substance that gets users intoxicated. The marijuana of the 1960s and 1970s only contained 1-3% THC. Today, the levels are 20% or more. The Dutch government walked back their marijuana policy and now considers cannabis with 15% THC a hard drug and illegal.

High potency marijuana use is linked to increases in addiction, psychosis, schizophrenia and violence.

SB 7 allows adults to grow up to five marijuana plants in their home(s). What good is a community opt-out when neighbors are legally permitted to grow it? Moreover, who wants to live near pot cultivation centers?

Cultivating excessive amounts of marijuana is not hypothetical. Conservatively, five plants could produce ten pounds of marijuana per year. That is more than 10,000 joints a year. No one can use that much marijuana. Where will the surplus go?

There are many other reasons to oppose this policy. In short, legalization is just not worth the social costs to our families and communities.

David E. Smith, Executive Director
Illinois Family Institute

"Intelligent, fun and unpredictable"; The Class of 2019

Members of the St. Joseph-Ogden Class of 2019 celebrated in colorful style
(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Members of the St. Joseph-Ogden Class of 2019 celebrated in colorful style after receiving their diplomas on Sunday. One hundred and twenty-eight students were conferred as the newest class of graduates.

"They were a phenomenal class; a very, very bright class," said principal Gary Page. The Class of 2019 entered SJO as freshmen the same year he took over the reigns as principal. "Their GPA (as a class) was phenomenal."

When asked what three words characterized the Class of 2019, Paige responded with, "intelligent, fun and unpredictable."

66% of the senior class earned 3.0 or better grade average. The composite SAT score for this year's graduating class was 1112, which is 100 points higher than the state average.

Just as impressive is the fact that the senior class earned 914 dual credit college hours. After adding AP credit to that number, Paige envisions the dual credit hours to be close to a thousand.

They had a really good chemistry. They did enjoy each other and had a lot of fun together," Paige said. "I think they are a pretty close. That chemistry showed inside the school and they were great leaders inside of our building."

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