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Spartan Spotlight with seniors Brianna Dingman, Tia Pruitt & Andrea Cunningham

Brianna Dingman

Clubs & Activities
Chorus, FFA

St. Joseph

A younger brother and sister

Listening to music, drawing, watching TV, and practicing cosmetology.

Favorite SJO memories:
Her greatest memories at SJO revolve around her Chorus classes. She really enjoyed the ILMEA District Chorus Competition at Eastern Illinois University during her senior year.

Favorite classes:
Art, Chorus, and Sociology.

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Bayles and Mr. Risley at St. Joseph Middle School and Mrs. Jennifer Brooks, Mrs. Mary Benoit, and Mr. Nicholas Wolf at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Lakeland College, majoring in Cosmetology.

Advice to future SJO students:
Do your homework and stay caught up.

Andrea Cunningham

Clubs & Activities
We The People, Spanish Club


Older sister and younger brother

Reading, writing, and art

Favorite SJO memories:
She remembers a funny moment in one of her science classes when a paper towel was caught on fire by accident during a lab. This happened so fast, and Andrea and her lab partner will not forget it. Andrea also enjoyed eating lunch and socializing with friends throughout her years of high school as well.

Favorite classes:
U.S. History, AP English 3, and all of her Social Studies classes

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Anderson at PVO and Mr. Don Beckett at St. Joseph-Ogden High School

University of Illinois, majoring in Elementary Education

Advice to future SJO students:
Don't procrastinate and to participate in school events.


Clubs & Activities
Cheer (3 years), Softball (1 year), Student Council

St. Joseph

Two younger sisters and a younger brother

Hanging out with friends and family.

Favorite SJO memories:
She really enjoyed every part of the SJO cheer team her freshman, sophomore, and senior years. She also enjoyed being a member of the Student Council during her junior year.

Favorite classes:
Science and history with Mrs. Beth Beckett.

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Manwaring at St. Joseph Grade School, Mrs. Mabry at St. Joseph Middle School, and Mrs. Beckett at SJO.

Parkland College, majoring in nursing

Advice to future SJO students:
Keep pushing on even when school is tough.

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

Viewpoint: It's only a matter of time

By Clark Brooks, Editor & Publisher

I was going to scribble today's editorial yesterday, but I received some unsettling news. The original piece was going to reflect on how I empathized with Illinois State Rep. Darren Bailey, who was granted a temporary restraining order against Governor J.B. Pritzker’s "shelter-in-place" order.

There are a lot of things I miss right now, too. I can't wait for life to return to something resembling the pre-Covid days. If things turn out better, well even better.

Right now, I miss going to the grocery store to pick up fresh vegetables or frozen pizza and a six pack of craft beer. This buying for a week business has got my spending habits out of whack.

I miss playing a vigorous game of tennis. However, while entertaining, my teammates probably don't miss me tossing my tennis racquet against the back fence or slamming it ground in frustration after losing a point.

I miss walking to Black Dog, Bunnies or Courier Cafe in downtown Urbana for a beer and something to eat when I'm feeling too lazy to cook.

I miss my work. I miss covering sporting events for clients and doing postgame interviews with coaches and athletes for Sentinel articles.

In his grand, noble gesture Bailey, who lives in Xenia (pop. 364), told reporters he is only trying to defend residents in his district that are struggling financially because of COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the governor. His goal, he told reporters, was to help get businesses re-open in his district.

I sympathize with that, too. There are people all over the country, not just in Illinois, struggling through stay-at-home orders. I'm one of them. I miss my livelihood, too.

Believing Gov. Pritzker has exceeded his authority and is violating the civil rights of residents by extending the state’s stay-at-home order beyond the 30-day limit, Bailey benefiting from a compassionate bench, is the only resident in the state with TRO relief from the Gov. Pritzker's executive order.

A privilege that he paid $306 in court fees plus attorney fees - probably between another $1,200 to $2,000. That's money he could have maybe loaned or even donated to constituents who might need food to get through the week or help a business with this month's rent. Instead, he spent his hard earn dollars to buy his personal freedom, at least for now temporarily.

There is a growing seed of discontent among residents in the central and southern part of the state. Some 38 days into the social distancing strategy, cabin fever is on an upswing.

Bailey, fanning these flames, reminds me of Dathan, son of Eliab in the Old Testament. Together with his brother Abiram, the Levite Korah and others, Dathan rebelled against Moses and Aaron as they led the Israelites away from Egypt to the Promised Land.

While the majority of the reported cases in the state our in the Chicagoland area followed by border counties on the Illinois side facing St. Louis in second, Clay County, which off the beaten path, with no interstate traffic or tourists attractions of note, has reported just two confirmed cases of the virus since the outbreak.

The coronavirus is a Chicago thing, not a downstate thing.

It will be interesting to see which way the first-term representative steps when the number of cases start to skyrocket in his county. It is only a matter of time.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports nearby Newton, a half hour drive away, has 44 confirmed cases with four virus related deaths. Mt. Vernon, an hour to the south, is reporting nearly twice that amount with 80 cases and 11 lives lost.

While now everything seems peachy in the land of milk and honey around Xenia, but it is only a matter of time before that changes for the 13,850 that live Clay County.

In a farm community about 75 miles north from Bailey's hometown, I have a relative living in an assisted nursing home. The county where it is located currently has five reported cases, two announced this past Sunday and the latest yesterday.

It was in yesterday's phone call when I learned the newest confirmed case is an employee at his care facility. I was told she self-quarantined as soon as she started exhibiting symptoms.

I got my game face on. I am trying not worry about him or the other residents and wonderful staff there. It hard not to when you hear news about the virus in nursing homes like the one over by Springfield in Sherman.

Yes, Mr. Bailey, you should worry. It is only a matter of time.

Plotner signs on to Skyhawk program, college running dream comes true

St. Joseph-Ogden senior Jillian Plotner announced on social media that she officially joined the University of Tennessee Martin running program yesterday.

The four-year cross country and track & field athlete is ecstatic at one of her dreams coming true.

"I am so blessed and excited to announce this! I want to take the time to thank all my wonderful friends, coaches, teammates, fellow competitors, and my family," she wrote in a Facebook post. "It’s been a crazy adventure but I’m so excited for the future!!"

Joining the Skyhawks is also a step in the right direction for Plotner, who wants to become a forensic anthropologist. In August, she will join the College of Education, Health, and Behavioral Sciences to work toward her degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in forensic science.

"I’m very excited to continue my running career to the college level!" she said via a Twitter interview. "It’s been a dream ever since I was younger. This opportunity has shown me that all my hard work does show off and that it is being seen."

Plotner said she was initially contacted by graduate assistant coach Karson Hahn and later meet with him and first-year head coach Kevin Mangan at the IHSA state cross country meet last November.

"They watched me compete and it was such an experience and I absolutely liked them both when I met them," explaining how she was recruited. "I honestly don’t know what I did to get on their radar but somehow it worked!"

Keegan McCarty: "Everyone has a special meaning"

SJO pitcher Keegan McCarty
Going into this baseball season, Keegan McCarty had a long list of personal goals he was set on accomplishing this season.

That dream was interrupted by what appeared to be a temporary postponement to the season, and then weeks later the inevitable cancellation of the entire 2020 season, courtesy of the Coronavirus pandemic.

"This was the year I was going to prove I was the number one and going to set so many goals to achieve for myself," he said confidently. "It wasn't as much about (me not being able to improve my game) statistics that disappoint me, but it’s the way it ended. I was expecting top end running onto the field winning the state championship, not this."

Advice from a senior
"Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t wish things to be over quicker then they should be. Academically , don’t wait until the last second to do homework and study for tests. Athletically, enjoy the game and love every second you have with the team."
Baseball, especially playing with his fellow seniors after going through tears, joy together, and learning to fight through the difficult times, was the best thing to happen to him through high school. His best memories at SJO are from overnight baseball trips over the years and every one of the Homecoming assemblies he has attended.

"The pitchers and hitters were finally starting to click and all I could think was, 'Wow'... this year was going to be so special," said the four-year veteran hurler while explaining how much he had matured as player and personally. "This is why it’s all disappointing when there is so much potential and it gets taken in a matter of four or five days before the start of the season. Last year was not what we wanted, this was our revenge tour and no one was going to stop us."

McCarty is disappointed but not bitter about the season the will never be. He genuinely believes Gov. J.B. Pritzker has made the right decisions so far during the pandemic. He assured me if he was governor, he would have taken the exact same steps.

"I would rather things get shut down now to help slow down the number and flatten the curve so by next school year students are allowed back at school," he explained. "Even though we caught it at the wrong time and seniors are missing graduations and their final seasons it’s better to be safe than sorry.

"I just want to be able to play my first college ball in the fall and I know seniors across the country want to put their pads on for the last time and shutting things down now is what is necessary."

While fellow classmates are swallowing the bitter pill of no en mass graduation ceremony with family and friends until later this summer, a canceled Prom and no spring sports season, McCarty, with brutal honesty, described bigger, more bitter pills growing up.

"There’s been a couple difficult times, but I think the one that hit me the most was when I was younger," he said when asked what was the most difficult time in his life and what he learned from it. He hopes the story won't damage his relationship with his family, but a story nonetheless he wanted to share. "When I was younger I had to witness some horrible things that kind of affected who I am today."

Growing up he watched his father and step sister fight, in his words, "all the time."

"Sometimes it would be physical. One time I had to leave on a school day and go stay with my grandma in Indiana, and come back the next day for school," he recounted. "I had to witness cops come to the household countless times when my sister would run away or cause a disturbance with my dad."

McCarty, who lives in St. Joseph, feels like he acquired a high level of inner strength and resiliency from this turbulent period in his childhood. Through the emotional and difficult episodes one of the important lessons he learned was to value those around him.

"This taught me to respect those around me as everyone has a special meaning to someone’s life. Fighting with each other everyday can create negative effects on someone," he explained. "It taught me how to be strong on the inside and not let things get to me so easily. Although, sometimes it still happens and I keep everything to myself."

His favorite classes at St. Joseph-Ogden High School have been Accounting I and Accounting II with Mrs. Harbaugh and Civics with Mr. Beckett. His favorite teachers through the years include Mrs. Izard at PVO; Mr. Risley at St. Joseph Middle School; and Mrs. Veronica Harbaugh, Mr. Marshall Schacht, and Mr. Jeff Kieffer at SJO.

When the homework is done and practice is over, McCarty says he enjoys deer hunting, running and working out.

After high school, he will attend Lake Land College where he will major in accounting and play baseball. He chose the Lakers' program because they hired Julio Godinez, a former assistant at Eastern Illinois University. He is looking forward to expanding his knowledge and pitching skills from an experienced Division I pitching coach.

"I chose to go to Lake Land as it wasn’t necessarily close to home and I wanted to experience college life away from St. Joe and the Champaign area," he said. "There were opportunities to go further away but understanding I’m from a smaller school I wanted to go the JUCO route to get used to playing against bigger and better players.

McCarty said he will miss a couple things when heads off to college in the fall.

The most important one is his comedic sidekick and fellow senior Joey Acton. The duo, whose bond is as strong as any pair of sibling according to McCarty, will never fade.

"(We've) even have been asked if we were brothers countless of times," he said. "Our very own guidance counselor, Mrs. Rein, has mixed us up!"

Acton, says McCarty, has provided a number of side-splitting, hilarious moments throughout their years friendship.

"This dude does some pretty funny stuff, such as throwing a golf club into the little water areas when we putt-putt or crack jokes that make me laugh for five-plus minutes. Sad that we will be an hour apart in just four months."

When discussing his future after college, McCarty has no idea where he will be in ten years. One thing is for sure, he won't be living in Illinois. He is thinking California or maybe Florida. He is not picky as long as it is somewhere with warm weather, and maybe on a farm away from lots of people.

"It’s really hard to know," he said. "I think it depends on how college goes with baseball, but if that doesn’t work then I believe I will be working at a business as an accountant."

"I will try to reach and help out young ball players and coach a team hopefully," he added.

SJO senior spotlights with Josh Sexton, Isaac Walden & Jackson Wooten

Jackson Wooten

Clubs & Activities
Band (4 years), Scholastic Bowl, Rube Goldberg Team, We The People

St. Joseph

One brother and one sister

Hanging out with family and friends

Favorite SJO memories:
During his freshman year, he marched with the SJO band in the Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. This is a moment he will never forget, including many other great memories he has had being involved with the SJO band. Also, Jackson enjoyed the Homecoming assembly during his junior year. He felt as if the whole school was connected during this assembly.

Favorite classes:
Band, and all of the classes he has he has taken with Mr. Marshall Schacht.

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Pirtle at St. Joseph Grade School, Mr. Dassow and Mrs. Stone at St. Joseph Middle School, and Mr. Don Beckett, Mr. Jeff Kieffer, Mr. Marshall Schacht, Mr. Kiel Duval, and Mr. Robert Glazier at SJO.

Plans to start at Parkland College and transfer to the U of I to major in Mechanical Engineering.

Advice to future SJO students:
Work hard, and to keep plugging away to be successful.

Josh Sexton

Clubs & Activities
Cross Country (4 years), Track & Field (2 years), Band, Chorus, Drama Club, Spanish Club, NHS

St. Joseph

One younger sister

Anything relate to theater.

Favorite SJO memories:
He has really enjoyed being a part of the SJO cross country team. This past winter, Josh was a part of the All State Musical at Illinois State University, which is an event he will never forget. Also, Josh really enjoyed attending the district band competition at Olivet Nazarene University. He will also remember everything that was theater-related at SJO as well. He is also very proud of signing up the SJO theater shows for the Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards.

Favorite classes:
Band and Civics

Favorite teachers:
Mr. Dassow and Mrs. Ford at St. Joseph Middle School, and Mr. Williams, Mrs. Heather Lindenmeyer, and Mr. Marshall Schacht at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Illinois State University majoring in Music Education

Career Goal:
Earn a master’s degree and perform on Broadway.

Advice to future SJO students:
Do not underestimate yourself.

Isaac Walden

Clubs & Activities
Baseball (2 years), Maroon Platoon
Art Club


Two older sisters

Rollerblading, mini golf, and bowling.

Favorite SJO memories:
Going to the IHSA State volleyball games during his freshman year and senior year was fun. He also remembers a hilarious moment from his freshman year when, while practicing a "how to" speech, one of his classmates threw a paper airplane he was working on, which hit Mrs. Franzen in the face during English class. This was definitely an accident, but it was a quick, hilarious, spontaneous moment that he will never forget.

Favorite classes:
All of his history classes with Mr. Jeff Kieffer, Mr. Marshall Schacht, Mr. Don Beckett, and English with Mrs. Alisyn Franzen.

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Pierce, Mrs. Stewart, and Mrs. Max at PVO; and Mr. Kieffer, Mr. Shawn Skinner, and Mr. Schacht at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

University of Illinois at Springfield majoring criminology.

Advice to future SJO students:
Get all of your homework finished.

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

Spotlight on SJO senior Lexi Ribbe

Lexi Ribbe

Clubs & Activities
Cheer (2 years), Dance (1 year), Maroon Platoon, Maroon Platoon Leader, Advisory Mentoring Program, Spanish Club

St. Joseph

Older brother

Traveling, walking, shopping, listening to music, and spending time with family and friends.

Favorite SJO memories:
She will definitely remember all of the home and away games she has gone to over the years, and being with her friends at these games was a great experience. She has also enjoyed being an office helper with Mrs. Hoveln and Mrs. Falls the past two years.

Favorite classes:
Geometry with Mr. Kiel Duval, Advanced Biology with Mrs. Stacey Kietzman, P.E. with Mr. William Billman, and Economics and Civics with Mr. Marshall Schacht.

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Pridemore at St. Joseph Grade School; Mrs. Hilton at St. Joseph Middle School; and Mr. Duval, Mrs. Lianne Rash, and Mrs. Kietzman at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

University of Oklahoma, majoring in radiology

Advice to future SJO students:
Enjoy high school, do your best, and get involved.

Text provided by St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

New members inducted into SJO's National Honor Society

Tonight, thirty-one St. Joseph-Ogden students would have been greeted to rolls of the National Honor Society at an induction ceremony at the school. With all Illinois schools closed by an Executive Order from the governor, the ceremony honoring the newest members, like classes, has also gone online.

NHS advisor Jared Lofrano posted a 13 minute and 26 second video welcoming their newest members.

The inductees for the 2019-2020 school year include: Abigail Behrens, Ella Besson, Brandie Bowlin, Mara Burkhalter, Crayton Burnett, Anastasia Conerty, Deanna Cummins, Sidney Davis, Makayla Duckwitz, Kylie Duckett, Hanna Eastin, Nadirah Edwards, Ashley Eldridge, Jared Emmert, Lauren Harper, Payton Jacob, Ava Knap, Ethan Lane, Ashlyn Lannert, Kelsey Martlage, Garren Meeker, Conrad Miller, Alec Painter, Jessica Palmer, Emma Parkinson, Erin Patton, Taryn Sexton, Alyssa Shoviak, Rylee Stahl, Mackenzie Trame and Rachel Wilson.

"These students, as well as our current members, are active in extracurricular activities, have outstanding character, demonstrate great leadership and excel in their academics," Lofrano tells viewers in the opening statement. "While this format for this induction and recognition ceremony is far from ideal, it is an honor to celebrate the hard work and dedication that all of these students have exhibited during their high school career."

Also found on YouTube, parents, family and friends can view the introduction and induction of each new member by NHS President Faith Dahman and Vice-President Zoey Witruk in the video below.

Current NHS members include: Lindsey Aden, Eliza Lewis, Isabelle Brooks, Aiden Livesay, Jenna Albrecht, Tyson Madsen, Mallory Ames, Sophia Martlage, Taylor Barnes, Flannery McCorkle, Katelyn Berry, Eric Poe, Emily Bigger, Hannah Rajlich, Payton Cain, Indira Robinson, Brendan Cooperider, Mazie Ronk, Kristen Costa, Jenna Schaefer, Drew Coursey, Evan Schmitz, Faith Dahman, Joshua Sexton, Hannah Dukeman, Tessa Smith, Emily Fisher, Kenly Taylor, Lucas Grindley, Stephanie Trame, Erica Guelfi, Payton Valle, Atleigh Hamilton, Brayden Weaver, Lacey Kaiser, Brayden Wendt, Shelby Kofoot and Zoey Witruk.

In addition to Dahman and Witruk, the other remaining office holders include Lindsey Aden as Secretary, Kenly Taylor maintaining duties as the Treasurer and Mallory Ames holds the position of Historian.

Delicious veggies and more, FFA plant sale starts on Monday

Looking flowers or vegetables for your garden this spring?

Tomorrow at 9am the next round of the St. Joseph-Ogden FFA Chapter will be open for business. Orders for available plants must be done online after it goes live tomorrow at Buyers can set a pick-up time to collect their purchase.

Starting its second week on Monday, the sale includes Hungarian sweat wax peppers, San Marzano tomatoes, a couple types of cabbage, and broccoli. There are also a good selection of geraniums in assorted colors available.

Proceeds from the sale is to support the school's greenhouse operation help expand students practical knowledge on agriculture and growing practices.

"It gives the students an opportunity to learn while getting their hands dirty! There is a small profit made on the plant sale which goes back to the greenhouse fund to continue running the greenhouse," said Darcy Nekolny, one of the high school's agriculture teacher and a FFA advisor. "It also is used for some greenhouse based labs we complete in class as well as helping prepare the FFA members for some Career Development Events (CDEs) such as the Horticulture CDE."

This is the second year of sales after the greenhouse was completed in the fall of 2018.

"We're definitely still learning the best way to utilize the greenhouse, and what people in the community want in a plant sale," Nekolny said. Closing out her first year at SJO, she was surprised how quickly plants sold out last week. "I was absolutely astounded how quickly plants sold out last week!"

She also had a huge thank you to area residents after last week's sales.

"The level of community support for the SJO FFA, Agriculture Department, and Greenhouse has been incredible," she said. "Thank you!"

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.

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.

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."

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

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.”

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.

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