Senior Spotlight with Jordan Kelly, Stephanie Trame & Luke Renfrew

Luke Renfrew

Clubs & Activities
Football (4 years), Boys’ Basketball (4 years), Maroon Platoon

St. Joseph

He has an older brother

Hanging out with friends and family and working on cars.

Favorite SJO memory:
Luke enjoyed competing in the IHSA Football Playoffs three of his four years. He has really enjoyed sports in general because of the positive moments he has been a part of.

Favorite classes:
Agriculture with Mr. Billman and any class he has had with Mr. Duval.

Favorite teachers:
Mrs. Ford at St. Joseph Middle School and Mr. Duval, Mr. Billman, Mr. Skinner, Mrs. Kerner, and Senor Sutton at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Will become a union apprentice electrician in January

Advice to future SJO students:
Enjoy high school because it goes by so fast.

Jordan Kelly

Jordan Kelly basketball poster

Clubs & Activities
Basketball (4 years), Soccer (3 years), Football (1 year), Maroon Platoon

St. Joseph

Two older brothers

Hanging out with friends and family, and playing sports

Favorite SJO memory:
Playing Spartan basketball this past season and the bonds he has created at SJO with all of his teachers and students.

Favorite classes:
Math with Mr. Duval, all of his strength classes, and all of the English classes with Mrs. Lindenmeyer

Favorite teachers:
Throughout his years of schooling, Jordan’s favorite teachers are Mr. Risley at St. Joseph Middle School and Mr. Duval at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Parkland College, Construction Management

Advice to future SJO students:
Do not take anything for granted.

Stephanie Trame

Clubs & Activities
Volleyball (4 years), Maroon Platoon, NHS, Spanish Club, FCA, AMP, Student Council, We The People

St. Joseph

One sister

Traveling and hanging out with family and friends.

Favorite SJO memory:
Qualifying to compete at the IHSA State Volleyball Tournament at Redbird Arena in the fall of 2019. She will never forget this great moment and nor when the whole SJO varsity volleyball team got stuck in the hotel elevator for about 15 seconds. Additionally, she will always remember going to the We The People State Competition in Chicago during her senior year.

Favorite classes:
English classes with both Mrs. Chambers and Mrs. Lindenmeyer and Civics with Mr. Schacht

Favorite teachers:
Mr. Risley at St. Joseph Middle School and Mrs. Lindenmeyer, Mr. Schacht, and Mrs. Rein at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Plans to attend Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. She has not decided on a major.

Advice to future SJO students:
Enjoy every day and to participate in everything you can.

Photos and text provided by St. Joseph-Ogden High School

SJO senior spotlights with Nolan Peacock, Zoey Witruk & Nick Bensyl

Nolan Peacock

Clubs & Activities
Track and Field (3 years), Drama Club (2 years), Spanish Club, We The People

St. Joseph

Two older brothers, two older sisters

Spending time with friends and family, playing guitar, and working.

Favorite SJO memory:
He is going to miss the home football games, post prom, and all of the fan bus trips to IHSA State over the years. He really enjoys when the whole school is involved.

Favorite classes:
Every Spanish class with Senor Sutton, U.S. History with Mr. Schacht, and Horticulture with Mrs. Nekolny

Favorite teachers:
Senora Nelson, Senor Sutton, Mr. Schacht, and Mr. Simondsen.

University of Illinois to study media and cinema studies.

Advice to future SJO students:
Cherish every moment of high school because it goes by so fast.

Special thanks:
Nolan wants to thank the faculty and everyone at SJO for making high school such a great, positive experience for him.

Zoey Witruk

Clubs & Activities
Softball (4 years), Student Council, Spanish Club, Maroon Platoon, SADA, NHS, We The People

St. Joseph

One older sister, Tori.

Reading, spending time with friends and family, and being a part of her travel softball team, the Peoria Sluggers.

Favorite SJO memory:
Some of the moments she really enjoy included going to volleyball and basketball games. As a fan, Zoey remembers the varsity volleyball match at STM in 2018, when the Spartans were down late but then rallied to win. She had a blast at the IHSA State Softball Tournament her freshman year. She also enjoys

Favorite classes:
Civics, English, and Chemistry

Favorite teachers:
Her favorite all-time teachers throughout all her schooling are Mrs. Stone and Mrs. Ford at St. Joseph Middle School and Mr. Simondsen and Mr. Schacht at SJO.

University of Illinois, majoring in animal science. She plans to become a veterinarian.

Advice to future SJO students:
Do not take any moment for granted because high school goes by so fast.

Nick Bensyl

Clubs & Activities
Scholastic Bowl


A younger sister

Playing video games and playing different kinds of trivia games.

Favorite SJO memory:
His greatest memories at SJO involve Ms. Pensinger. Nick feels lucky to have had Ms. Pensinger as his substitute teacher for the semester during both his sophomore year and his senior year. Nick has also enjoyed taking college courses at SJO, especially computer networking.

Favorite classes:
World History with Mr. Kieffer and Consumer Education with Mr. Skinner

Favorite teachers:
Throughout the years, his favorite teachers have been Mrs. Max during 5th and 6th grade at PVO, and Mr. Kieffer, Mr. Skinner, and Mr. Beckett at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Parkland College, majoring in computer science information technology

Advice to future SJO students:
Do all homework

Photos and text provided by St. Joseph-Ogden High School

Logger to Red Devil, Jordan Brooks joins Eureka College hoops program

Earlier this week, St. Joseph-Ogden alum Jordan Brooks joined the Eureka College basketball program after finishing his class work at Lincoln Land College.

He can't wait to put on the Red Devil uniform and be a part of a successful program with a potent offensive. Despite their season cut short when the NJCAA canceled the remainder of the 2019-2020 season, Eureka finished the campaign with a 16-9 record. Brooks' new team averaged 91.8 points per game with six of this year's contests ending with scored over 100 points.

SJO's Jordan Brooks
Former SJO basketball star Jordan Brooks makes a pass during the Spartans 2018 sectional semifinal game against Monticello. The Spartans fell in a heartbreaking 47-39 thriller at Maroa-Forsyth High School. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

"I think my shooting, basketball IQ, and being a team-first guy will bring a lot to the table for our team next year," said Brooks, who is excited with the opportunity to continue his basketball career and has future plans to become a successful college coach. "Coach Wilde has built a great winning culture there and I can’t wait to be apart of it."

During his final season at Lincoln Land, Brooks started in all 31 games with a shooting average of 40% in and outside the arc. He averaged 10.5 points per game. He put drained 5 treys against John Wood on his way to a 19 point finish on February 26 and scored 18 against Illinois Wesleyan's JV squad nine days earlier.

"I learned a lot in my two years there," he said about his tenure with the Loggers, despite the team's 4-27 record this year. "I just learned how intense the college basketball world is. You never play against a bad player, it shows how deep talent is in basketball."

Being a student-athlete isn't easy. Brooks has learned as much off the hardwood as he as on it. He's learn to manage his time better as well as be an adult for the first time on his own.

"It was a good experience and I met a lot of good people."

The former Spartan basketball star will major in Sports Management at Eureka and after graduation hopes land a position as a graduate assistant basketball coach.

Lights for the Fight tonight at St. Joseph-Ogden High School

Tonight starting at 8pm, the field lights at the St. Joseph-Ogden Sports Complex will be on for 20 minutes for "Lights for the Fight" phenomenon that is sweeping through the state. High schools around the state are turning the lights on as a show of support for seniors and front-line and essential workers who are doing their part in the country's fight to save lives and keep fellow American safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many states and high schools around the country have organized various initiatives involving school lights according the Illinois High School Association.

"Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago was one of the early adopters in putting the spotlight on this cause in Illinois. Caravan administrators asked their fellow Chicago Catholic League schools to take part via social media, and it has now grown statewide."

Some schools are making this gesture a Friday night tradition. It is unknown at this time if St. Joseph-Ogden will do the same.

The show of solidarity and support will have extra significance as Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce that schools will remain close for the rest of this academic year today or tomorrow. The Illinois governor has also hinted that the current shelter-in-place order may be extended into mid-May as other state leaders have chosen to implement.

The closure and stay-at-home extension will undoubtedly force the IHSA to cancel this spring's high school athletic season for thousands of athletes around the state.

Breaking News: School's out

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce the closure of schools until August during his daily Covid-19 briefing today or tomorrow.

The closure will affect some 2.2 millions students around the state and will break the hearts of hundreds of athletes, particularly seniors, who will not be able to participate in high school sports. The Illinois High School Association has yet to tip its hand, but after the governor makes the official announcement the state's athletic organization will probably make the official announcement soon after.

Illinois will join 27 states that have either ordered or recommended the same action according to Education Week.

* * * UPDATE * * *

During today's briefing Gov. Pritzker officially announced the end of in-school instructions for all schools in Illinois.

"My decision are hard ones but they will follow the science. The science says our students can not go back to their normal routine. Therefore, I am suspending in-person learning in schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year," the governor announced following the decision of other state leaders around the country like in the states Tennessee, Wisconsin and California. "I know many felt this was inevitable but trust me when I say this was not a decision I made lightly."

By 2:50pm, the IHSA released their statement.

"As we previously indicated, the cessation of in-person learning will make it difficult for the IHSA to conduct spring state tournaments this year. More information will be provided following Tuesday’s Board meeting."

The Board of Directors will meet on Tuesday to make their final determination on the spring sports tournament series the release said.

Trimble signs with Lindenwood University

After three seasons at the University of Wisconsin Parkside, Spartan basketball standout Brandon Trimble is on the move.

Yesterday, the 2017 St. Joseph-Ogden graduate sign on the Lindenwood University program in St. Charles, Missouri.

"I think Brandon is a great fit for our style of play," said head coach Kyle Gerdeman. "He is a guy who can score in a variety of ways, and his three years of experience at the DII level adds even more experience to our roster."

Trimble was named as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Player of the Week in January. He scored 20 or more points in seven of the games he played this season and amassed 320 points during his 661 minutes on the floor for the Rangers. He played in 24 games while making 14 starts.

After redshirting his freshman year, Trimble played in 27 games during the 2018-19 season for UWP. He averaged 11 points per game and 3 rebounds per game.

Doctors, tigers and vampires, oh my! Spartan Spotlight with Jenna Albrecht

After graduation from St. Joseph-Ogden High School, Jenna Albrecht plans to attend Parkland College for two years and then transfer to the University of Chicago-Urbana Satellite Campus Nursing Program. If those plans don't work out, she might consider a career as a television and film critic. She could become the next Erica Abeel of the Huffington Post or The Movie Minute's Joanna Langfield.

Currently at the top of her Netflix must-see list is Tiger King.

"Hello. This is a must for everyone! Who are you if you have not binge watched Tiger King?!?" Albrecht said about the streaming show slated to be an American cult classic decades from now. "If anything can help us through a pandemic, the war between Joe Exotic and Carol Baskin can!"

More likely to tame patients in a pediatric ward than tigers, the next show on her list is Grey's Anatomy.

"I am drawn to the medical side of this 16-year series," she said before spilling the beans on her attraction to her favorite characters in the medical drama. "Or, maybe I am just secretly in love with Dr. Shepard. No... Sloan… no... Karev… no... Avery… no... Hunt... no ...Linc… who am I kidding? I love them all!"

Her final recommendation, a fangtastic personal favorite for her, stars Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley in The Vampire Diaries.

Clubs & Activities

Volleyball (4 years),Track & Field (1 year)
Student Council, Spanish Club, Spanish Club Leader
NHS, Maroon Platoon Leader
Future Spartans Mentoring Program
Advisory Mentoring Program

"#TeamDamon! This show definitely keeps you on your toes," she said. "If you love vampires, and who doesn’t, and never ending drama, this is a must!"

When she isn't watching Netflix, she enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, and listening to music in her free time.

Although one has to speculate the amount of free time in her day planner is pretty limited, since the senior has been involved in two sports and seven other groups during high school. Albrecht's advice for future SJO students is one of experience: "Get involved because time goes by so fast, and do not take anything for granted."

The more involved you are as a student in high school activities and athletics, the more memories you will make. Albrecht has made and been apart of numerous moments at SJO like going to homecoming her freshmen year and being an integral part of the Spartan varsity volleyball team's third place finish last November at the IHSA state tournament.

"My senior volleyball season was one that I will never forget! The experience of advancing through each postseason game was so exhilarating!" she said. She offered additional advice for incoming freshman and underclassmen moving up to varsity spots in the SJO volleyball program. "Never underestimate what spirit can bring to your team! Whether you win or lose, whether you play or sit the bench, whether you are on the freshman team or the varsity team, attitude and spirit are what will carry the team through the ups and downs of the next four years!"

Volleyball has taught Albrecht, an idea candidate for motivational posters when it comes to mental toughness on the court, numerous lessons that she will carry through life. One of the most important is you can still find good in loss.

After epic come from behind, three-set victory to win the supersectional title over Chicago Christian, she described how she and her fellow Spartan teammates confidence and determination soared into the stratosphere.

"We were ready to bring it all home. We were ready to win it all. However, we took a hard loss in the semi-final game," she recounted, explaining how the team was shot down and brought back down the Earth after a grueling 2-1 loss to Breese Mater Dei in the SJO's Class 2A state semifinal. "It was a very difficult evening for us, but we went back to the hotel, ate some pizza, and played Just Dance. The next day, as we warmed up to play for the third-place state title, we were back on our game."

Back in the zone, the Spartans roared to a 25-11 first set victory. After falling 25-20 in the second, the St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team fought valiantly to take the third and final set 25-23 to bring home the school's first state trophy in the 2019-20 school year.

"I don’t know if it’s his fun personality, kind soul, or his teaching abilities that makes him so amazing."
"We fought as hard as we could, and in the end, came out with the win!" she said. "Although, it was not the outcome we were hoping for, we were still able to find all the joy in the world for bringing home that third place state trophy."

While still remotely possible, Albrecht could very well assist in the Spartans in adding another piece of IHSA hardware to the school trophy case. Entering her second season with the girls track team, she has some unfinished business in the sport, especially competing in the triple jump.

"State was an amazing experience and I ended up within the top twenty, I didn’t make it to finals and was not quite satisfied yet," she said. Not bad when you consider she went from zero experience in her primary event to state in one season. "I had really big goals to finish on the podium this year, like many of the other girls. I don’t even think two years of track was enough for me, let alone one."

The coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on the 2020 spring sport season and like thousands of high school athletes around the country, the St. Joseph resident shares in their melancholy.

"I am extremely disappointed that there is a possibility spring sports will be canceled. Not only for myself, but also for the rest of the team," she explained. "It is very heartbreaking knowing that my last opportunity to compete in a sport may be taken away."

If, or probably a better yet, when there is another pandemic, Albrecht will likely be on the front lines in her future role in the nursing field. From the time she was a little girl she said she loved helping and caring for others. She would line up her stuffed animals and treat them as they were her patients taking care of them one by one. She credited the stories her mother, a respiratory therapist, shared with the family as her inspiration to pursue nursing as a career.

"I think America is doing everything they can right now to keep American citizens safe. Granted, we all could withstand improving our compliance with the "stay-at-home" quarantine regulations mandated by our government," she said. "(I hope) we can be better prepared for the next pandemic and educate the world rather than instill fear and panic before education.

"Having a strategy in place for the next pandemic will not only decrease the amount of fear, but have an organized plan in place for our nation to follow rather than react to."

Jenna’s favorite classes have been with Mr. Robert Glazier and English with Mrs. Heather Lindenmeyer, both instructors along with Mrs. Alycn Franzen have been her favorite teachers at SJO. In middle school Mrs. Kinney was a favorite, too.

"THE. ABSOLUTE. BEST. I don’t know if it’s his fun personality, kind soul, or his teaching abilities that makes him so amazing," Albrecht said of Glazier praising his teaching style.

She really appreciated the fact that whenever anyone needed extra help understanding anything he would go back and walk through it again until they understood it.

"I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to be in his class. Not only does he make his class fun, he is also very understanding of what the students have to say. I honestly find it difficult to find the right words to describe him, but I am so drawn to his gentle nature, kind soul, and fun sense of humor."

ViewPoint | Illinois political priorities are a wreck

Dear Editor:

Governor Pritzker considers marijuana "essential". He must believe that being high is fundamental to survival. Whatever his reasoning, he has done a great injustice to Illinois families, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 is a greater threat to those with a weakened immune system or impaired lung function. There’s ample evidence that regular use of marijuana lowers immunity and damages the lungs.

"There is evidence that marijuana smoke is genotoxic, immunosuppressive, and can alter endocrine function… Prolonged exposures to marijuana smoke in animals and humans cause proliferative and inflammatory lesions in the lung," research from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

"Cellular immunity is impaired, pulmonary immunity is impaired, and the impaired ability to fight infection is now documented in humans," according to research from the The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

A "multitude of toxic microorganisms, many of which are known causes of serious lung infections, including Cryptococcus, Mucor, and Aspergillus fungi and Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria" are found in so-called "medical" marijuana, according to UC at Davis. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, titled, "A microbiome assessment of medical marijuana."

There’s also the issue of increased risk of psychosis, increased risk of traffic fatalities, increased hospitalizations, increased use by children, and the consequences go on.

Illinois political priorities are a wreck.

Kathy Valente, Director of Operations
Illinois Family Institute

Real Talk:
Six questions with Taylor Wells

Taylor Wells takes a shot
Spartan Taylor Wells go up for a shot against an Illinois Valley Central player in their home game in January.
(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Last week, The Sentinel caught up with St. Joseph-Ogden sophomore Taylor Wells for a little one-on-one. No, not the kind on the hardwood where this reporter would be schooled like a kindergartner, but about student school, sports and life in the new, and hopefully temporary, Covid world. Observing social distancing guidelines, I asked six questions to the student-athlete via Twitter.

Sentinel: What was your reaction and those of your fellow students when you first learned that schools would be closed due to the COVID-19 virus?

Wells: I was sad that I would be missing out on playing softball, competing in my AAU travel basketball tournaments, and seeing my friends.

Sentinel: How is e-learning going? What really sucks about it?

Wells: It’s going okay. It’s not optimal. I would prefer to be in the classroom with my classmates.

Sentinel: What do you think teachers can do to make it better?

Wells: I think the teachers are doing the best they can for us. I’m sure it’s very stressful being thrown into a situation like this.

Sentinel: Besides shooting baskets at home, what else are you doing to pass the time?

Wells: I’ve walked a few trails at Homer Lake with my family and my dog, working out to stay in shape, and doing basketball drills.

Sentinel: When we are done sheltering in place, and hopefully soon, name three things you are going to do the first week.

Wells: I am definitely going to hangout with my friends, go to SJO softball practice, and go to Heart of Illinois basketball practice.

Sentinel: Looking into the future, what do you think will be the new normal as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Wells: I think people will wash their hands more often, and I think people will no longer take friends, family, and sports for granted.

SJO Senior Spotlights with Kolton Batty and Taylor Barnes

SJO senior Kolton Batty juggling a ball

Clubs & Activities
Soccer (4 years)
Maroon Platoon
Batty was one of four seniors on this year's St. Joseph-Ogden soccer team. His dribbling and passing game was top shelf.

He said his most memorable season with the Spartan soccer program was when his JV soccer team went undefeated during his freshman year.

~ Advice to new students ~
Enjoy the small things and to live every moment like it is your last.

After high school, Kolton plans to attend Parkland College. He is going to major in aviation.

His favorite all-time teachers at SJO are Mr. Robert Glazier, who taught his freshman Physical Science class. Batty says it was his favorite class in high school. His other favorite instructor in high school is Mrs. Alisyn Franzen.

Kolton lives in St. Joseph with his mom, dad, and two brothers, Dylan and Titus. Batty's main hobby is hanging out with friends.

Taylor Barnes
SJO basketball senior Taylor Barnes

Clubs & Activities
Girls’ Basketball (4 years)
Volleyball (3 years), Student Council
NHS, Spanish Club, Maroon Platoon
Like many of her classmates in the class of 2020, senior Taylor Barnes says her main hobby is hanging out with family and friends.

She lives near Ogden with her mother and father. She has two older siblings, a sister, Kelsie, and her brother, Nick.

Barnes' most memorable moment in high school was during the 2018-2019 girls’ basketball season. A little more than 14 months ago, she and a talented team of SJO athletes advanced to the IHSA Class 2A Girls’ Basketball State Tournament at Redbird Arena.

Then a junior, she played six minutes both games against Teutopolis and Hillsboro and was credit with a rebound in each. She finished the season with 52 points and 40 rebounds to help the Spartans to third-place state finish.

She said it was a great accomplishment that she will never forget.

The four-year basketball veteran was also a member of this season's sectional semifinal team that finished with 20 wins against 11 loses. She drained a game-high 18 points against Monticello back in January in a game where head coach Kevin Taylor said his senior "put it all together" playing exceptionally well on both ends of the court.

After high school Barnes will pursue a four-year degree at Illinois State University. There, she plans to major in exercise science.

Her advice for future SJO students is to "participate in everything and enjoy every day."

Her favorite teachers through the years are Mrs. Jeanna Kerner at St. Joseph-Ogden and Mrs. Howard at PVO. She said her favorite class at during high school was Geometry her freshman year with Mr. Kiel Duval.

Text provided by St. Joseph-Ogden High School. Photos by Clark Brooks

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