Josh Methner Shatters Cross Country Record
by: Michael Somary
As we all know, senior Josh Methner has had a tremendous 2019 Cross-Country season. Methner broke an Illinois record that lasted 42 years to cement his back-to-back individual state title feat.
When comparing last year’s individual victory to this year’s, Methner said, “Last year was very special because I also got to celebrate our team’s success finishing second, so there was happiness on everyone’s face the rest of the week. And this year was awesome because I received tons of congrats and thank you’s for just my individual race. All my interactions after the race felt humbling.”
Methner’s time at Detweiller Park of 13:49.86 surpasses all times ran by the many future Olympians, who also won this important race. In fact, every Summer Olympics since 1976 has included at least one alumnus of this event. “An ultimate goal of mine would be getting to the Olympics. The Olympics only occurs once every four years and it’s very difficult to be at your peak fitness form at the same exact time as the most prestigious meet in the world,” Methner said. To make it seem more plausible for Methner, Craig Virgin, who previously held the record, was a 3-time Olympian and the only American who has ever won the World Cross Country Championship.
However, Methner doesn’t experience pressure from his success. “I don’t feel added pressure on my shoulder. I just look at my performances as benchmarks that can point towards good or bad progression,” Methner said.
As if his state accomplishments weren’t enough, Methner went on to achieve even more success. Methner ran at the Nike Cross Regionals (NXR) and won the race by a landslide. This race included the top runners from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri, and Methner topped all of them.
This qualified Methner for Nike Cross Nationals (NXN), held in Portland, Oregon. This contest includes the highest level of competition one can find in high school. Only the top five individuals and top two teams from each of the eight regionals qualify for the event. Methner placed 2nd against the top 203 runners in the entire country.
This accomplishment, along with his many past accomplishments, has set Methner up for a bright future. Methner had a choice of continuing his athletic and academic career at virtually any college he wanted. However, long before this race, Methner had already elected to continue his career at the University of Notre Dame, a school widely known for its prestigious athletic and academic programs.
“Notre Dame felt like the best choice for me for many reasons, the top reason being that the entire team there are great people both during and after practice, and they were the most ambitious guys I got to talk to, compared to the other places I visited,” Methner said.
Methner looks to build on his high school cross-country success next year. “I’m most excited for having a hand in Notre Dame’s team run for a national championship next year. With a lot of good recruits and veteran guys on the team heading into next year, it could be a special one.”
50th Annual Food Drive Showcases School's Impact on Community
by: Amelia Zollner
On Nov. 22, Service Over Self hosted its 50th annual food drive, providing food to both local food pantries and Hersey families in need of assistance. In honor of the food drive’s 50th year, SOS used the slogan “50 for 50” in promotional materials, reflecting their goal of donating 50,000 cans. Although the total number of cans fell just short of 50,000, the 46,845 cans that students raised made a tremendous impact on the community.
After over a month of planning logistics, organizing classes, and collecting cans, hundreds of students came together to help organize boxes in the cafeteria during second period on Nov. 22. “I was able to stand up on a table and watch everyone, which was so amazing to me because I was able to see everyone working together for one amazing cause,” senior Mia Petri, who coordinated the food drive, said.
Once boxes were packed, SOS students efficiently loaded them into three U-Haul trucks, all of which were completely filled in an hour. “It was so organized; the students in the SOS class worked really hard behind the scenes,” Gunther said. “There were so many things going on, from bag n’ tag to family food boxes to getting bags made, and everybody that chipped in was supremely organized and efficient.”
From there, the U-Haul trucks went to three food pantries: St. Alphonsus, Harvest Bible Chapel, and Willow Creek. At each food pantry, SOS members helped unload the trucks, forming human chains to get the boxes into the pantries. “When everybody was handing box to box, you just get to see the best in high school students when you create opportunities like that and involve people who really want to be a part of it,” science teacher Dawn Barry said.
At all three food pantries, employees spoke to SOS students about the impact that the Hersey food drive has on the community. “I think it’s hard for people to walk in here asking to receive food,” Willow Creek food pantry coordinator John Smith said. “It’s hard for people to do that, but at the same time, it’s seeing and meeting people for who they are and what they’re going through. Just having that connection gives them a sense of hope that there are people who care.”
Perry and Renee Morelli, two food pantry coordinators at St. Alphonsus, felt that Hersey’s food drive had an especially large impact on those who benefit from the St. Alphonsus food pantry. “I just gave away the last of it about a couple weeks ago,” Perry Morelli said.
Although the food drive has the biggest impact on St. Alphonsus’ pantry and gave it enough food to last nearly a year, each food pantry relies on Hersey’s food drive, showcasing the immense impact that the food drive has on the community. “They [food pantries] circle the date every year and can’t wait until we touch base and say we’re doing it again,” Gunther said. “I think it’s fair to say they rely on the hersey students and community.”
Blended Classes Stir Up Mixed Opinions
by: Jenny An
Blended classes have been a part of Hersey since 2015 when English teacher James Schiferl tried it out with his creative writing class. But with the start of this school year, the term has been thrown around more frequently. Although blended classes are gradually becoming part of students’ schedules, many students and staff members have mixed opinions regarding blended classes.
Students generally define blended classes as classes that provide them with the opportunity to utilize their time or take a break from standard classroom environments on select days of the week as assigned by the teacher. When students have a blended class, they are assigned additional material and are given the entire period to work; whether or not they use the class period to work efficiently is the responsibility students hold.
Associate Principal Ron Kiolbassa defined it as “a model by which teachers decide the number of days which they teach to the whole class and days which they blend, meaning students can prioritize their learning.”
The implementation of these blended classes, however, has raised the question of why classes are being taught in this matter. Some students think it is due to a lack of space while others think it is because of budget cuts.
Kiolbassa debunked these rumors by explicitly stating the goal. “It’s truly about a college-ready piece, not a financial piece. There [are] no benefits to anybody other than teachers and students,” Kiolbassa said.
Since blended learning is such a different learning and teaching environment compared to standard classroom settings, there have been mixed reactions from both faculty and students. “You get more time to work on areas you need to improve on, not necessarily what everyone else has to improve on. But a negative is we don’t go over everything in class, so you have to rely on your own studying to cover some things,” sophomore Hyeonseo Kim, a Mandarin 2 student who is partaking in blended learning.
Another student in the same class as Kim, sophomore Koumae Adams, has somewhat of a differing opinion. “I really like it [blended],” Adams said. “I think it gives us a new perspective of responsibility, but I sometimes get distracted and end up talking the whole period.”
Although Adams does find blended classes to be beneficial to her learning, she admits that with the lack of a teacher overlook, she has trouble focusing on assignments. But Adams was not the only one who noticed a lack of focus.
“Students like blended classes because they are able to be a little more flexible with their time, however, I will have to say that a lot of times I find students coming back less prepared because they didn’t properly use their time,” Mandarin teacher Melissa Moy said.
Though she noticed a lack of student performance, she still values blended classes. “It’s good for teachers. We can teach two classes separately without trying to teach multiple levels within the same time frame,” Moy said.
Despite some negatives of the new teaching method, students do find it helpful. “It gives me a lot more time to work on more urgent work,” sophomore Melina Blank, a student in creative writing, said. “It’s a great way for students to understand how to do more self-learning.
It’s especially good for preparing students for college life of less classroom time and time management,” junior Caroline Stanczak, a creative writing student, agreed.
Although this is still one of the first years of experimentation with this new teaching/learning style, both students and faculty find the class permits an opportunity for responsibility to help prepare for college, fulfilling the district’s goal.
School Shooting Threat Lacks Credibility, Evokes Rumors, Fear
by: Amelia Zollner
The week of Sept. 27, rumors of a school shooting threat broke out among students. The idea of a shooting threat, which many students felt would pose a threat to their safety during the Big Game assembly on Sept. 27, caused nearly half of the student body to miss school. However, the evidence was largely blown out of proportion, as there was no concrete threat against the building, only an anonymous tip that lacked credibility and a date written on a bathroom wall that made no reference to a school shooting.
Early that week, administrators were made aware of a date written on the wall of a boys bathroom. The date solely read “SEP 27” and made no specific mention of a school shooting. However, largely due to the current frequency of school shootings in America, many students concluded that the date was a hint of someone’s intent to carry out a school shooting that day. “From what I gathered, the date of the Big Game assembly was carved into a boys bathroom stall,” junior Grace Niemec saud. “Even if it wasn’t much, it scared me how my mind immediately went to ‘school shooting’ when I heard.”
Concerns regarding the date on the bathroom wall quickly translated into various rumors, many of which were exaggerated.
“[I heard that] there was writing on a table or something along the lines of “watch out” and the date,” junior Gracie Brown said.
And as rumors continued to proliferate, news of the rumored shooting threat reached a few concerned parents, causing a number of phone calls to be made to the school, the first of which was an anonymous tip made by a third party via the Sandy Hook Promise’s Say Something Anonymous Reporting System on Sept. 26. “... It was a tip that alarmed us because it was it was alluding that there was a note written on a desk or some sort of property within John Hersey [saying] that this was going to occur on that Friday,” School Resource Officer Taryn Gombar stated.
However, this tip lacked credibility as the person who made the tip didn’t appear to know what the purpose of the assembly was. “The complainant said that it [the shooting] was specifically going to happen at the ‘football assembly’, which was not a football assembly, it was actually the Big Game assembly, so right off the bat we were like, ‘Okay, so somebody doesn’t know exactly what’s happening, they’re not credible,’” Gombar said.
Additionally, the tip cited the presence of a note on a desk stating that there would be a school shooting. This was quickly ruled out after 5th period on Thursday, when administrators made an announcement instructing teachers to check their emails. The anticipated email was sent to all teachers and asked them to check their desks. “As part of our investigation, we gave them [teachers] an email saying, ‘Please check all the tops of desks and the backs of desks’ to see if we had any threat. We were looking everywhere, we looked in all the bathrooms not just the boys bathroom, we looked at all the desks, all the tables, and we couldn’t find anything [besides the date],” Principal Gordon Sisson said.
After conducting a thorough investigation that also included interviews with various students, administrators were confident that the only piece of evidence that existed was the date written on the bathroom wall, which posed no threat to students. “I’m having all my students here, all my special needs students, that’s a lot of responsibility,” Sisson said. “If I say it’s safe, to the best of my ability, I believe it’s safe.”
Despite the school’s confidence that there was no threat against the security of the building, the school continued to receive calls from people concerned about the possibility of a school shooting. That day, administration received two other calls, one from someone who self-identified as a student and one from someone who self-identified as a parent. “I mean, this was nothing but a date on a toilet wall and people just went crazy with rumors to the point where we had to say something,” Sisson said.
In an effort to curb the concerns that parents and students were expressing via phone calls, Sisson, along with a consultant at Forest View, the district’s superintendent, and the police department, sent out an email to parents and staff stating that “the police and school administration [had] conducted an investigation and [had] found no credibility to the threat”. This email sparked some criticism both due to its vague nature as well as the fact that it was solely sent to parents and staff, leaving some students without knowledge of the situation at that time. “I’m not sure if the school handled the situation appropriately because I never heard any details from the school,” junior Evy Cerny said.
However, Sisson stands behind the vague nature of the email due to the fact that details could not be included as the situation was still under investigation at the time it was sent out. “What people don’t understand is that we will never be precise in an email,” Sisson stated. “We are not telling the public, the students, the teachers all the details of an investigation that we’re running.”
Additionally, Sisson explained that the email could have included students. “I had no real reason not to [include students in the email], I just assumed that they would see it when their parents saw it,” Sisson noted.
Due to the wide range of rumors, administrators anticipated that large numbers of students would be absent that Friday, potentially putting a cap on the success of the Big Game, which caused them to consider rescheduling. However, as administrators working alongside the Arlington Heights Police Department were confident that there was no threat to the safety of the students, they decided to keep the school’s doors open through the assembly. “Our police department said, ‘Okay, you guys are going to host school, we’re not going to cancel school, and we’re not going to cancel the assembly at the end of the day,’” Gombar remarked. “We want to make it known that we are here as police officers and we’re not going to stand for any type of violence whatsoever here in our building.”
Despite the email’s promise of students’ safety, many students still felt uneasy at the idea of going to school with the concept of a shooting threat looming over their heads. “In addition to the stress I already get from a regular school day, the anxiety that came with the idea of a chaotic and horrible scene in the Carter Gym of all places was too much,” Niemec noted. “It just seemed the easier option to just avoid that stress altogether. Even if the threat wasn’t huge, it seemed better to stay home just in case as well.” Niemec, along with many other students stayed home that day. In total, around 800 students were absent. “People were legitimately scared because of the day and age we live in, and because of all the nonsense that happens,” Dean Matt Norris said.
For the students that did attend school on Sept. 27, the school employed eight extra police officers to insure the safety of students and staff. “We had eight other police officers there at the Big Game and they were throughout the crowd and in the corners of the main gym,” Gombar said. “Some were seen, some were not, and that’s what we do for safety measures.” Likewise, throughout that day, an additional detective worked alongside Gombar in case any new evidence was found.
In the end, students made it through the day without any detriment to their safety. Sisson noted that, despite the large absences that ensued due to the rumors being spread, the Big Game assembly was still mostly successful. “[I was] worried about ruining the event for our [CLS] kids, it was not a fun time,” Sisson said. “The event was incredibly successful and positive, I’m just sad that 800 couldn’t see it. It’s a disservice to everybody, a disservice to those that feel compelled to stay home, a disservice to those that are hoping to have everybody there to see them, but they [CLS kids] still rocked it!”
Although the general idea of a threat lacked credibility and students were safe throughout the day, the rumors still rekindled fears of school shootings, a common theme throughout many American high schools, that were evoked by the Parkland shooting nearly two years ago.
Sisson reflected the idea that the date written on the bathroom stall wouldn’t have held any significance before modern concerns of school shootings emerged. “[If a date showed up on a bathroom stall twenty years ago,] nobody would have blinked… [A date] has become something for this group of people that live in this current era of school violence. It’s not very healthy,” Sisson said.
Due to the concerns further reflected by Sept. 27’s incident, the school has in place a variety of exhaustive security options. Many administrators and students have expressed that they find it disturbing how many safety procedures are necessary today to protect students from violence. “If you knew how much time we spend on school safety versus what we teach now, you’d be shocked,” Sisson said. “15 security people. Bulletproof glass, the finest that you can buy. 3M film on every window. Panic buttons throughout this building that put a message out and strobe lights up, that call 911 immediately as well as lock the building down. Procedures and protocol, I mean, on and on and on.”
Amidst these concerns, numerous questions have arisen regarding the future of schools and the prevalence of school shootings. Although the topic of gun control, which was put in perspective for many students after the Sept. 27 incident occurred, tends to be politically polarizing, most, if not all, students and administrators can agree on one thing: that students shouldn’t have to worry about school shootings. “We should be able to walk into our highschool and be 100% safe without thinking about this kind of nonsense,” Norris said.
Students Embrace Inclusion Revolution Through the Big Game
by: Jackson Yu
As homecoming rolls closer and closer, the excitement going around the school is inevitable. In the midst of this, another spectacular event is also approaching: the Big Game. Students all over the school most likely have seen posters about the Big Game scattered throughout the building, and many may be wondering: What even is the Big Game?
First, a little history. The Big Game is a special event dedicated to the Career Life Skills (CLS) students in the school’s community. During the homecoming pep assembly, CLS students will play a 4-quarter basketball game, coached, officiated, and run by staff and students. The event originated at Grayslake North High School and has been going on for a few years. So how did the idea of the Big Game spread to Hersey?
CLS teachers Megan Brownley and Dick Mortensen attended last year’s game at Grayslake and were beyond fascinated by the idea.
“After we saw the Big Game at Grayslake, we were so moved by it,” Brownley said. “Everyone had a smile, everyone was standing, cheering, and everyone was included in the assembly.”
“It seemed so Hersey, inclusion is what Hersey is about, so we wanted to bring it here,” Mortensen stated.
The idea of inclusion is also in the root of Gerry’s Café, a nonprofit organization that’s on a mission to employ adults with mental disabilities. As of right now, Gerry’s Café is in need of public donations so they can begin turning their fantastic idea into a reality. Mortensen and Brownley were determined to bring the idea of inclusion into the school, and after hearing about Gerry’s Café, they were certain the Big Game would be perfect for just that.
To help Gerry’s Café, the school is raising money by selling t-shirts, rally towels, wristbands, various raffle tickets, and a dunk tank tickets. Rammy’s Sub Shop donated $500 for the cause and Sport Clips donated all the t-shirts for the super fan section.
Mortensen and Brownley may have passed on the idea, but students and staff across the school have been working hard to turn this amazing idea into a reality.
This exciting event will take place just before the homecoming pep assembly. All students and staff will gather in the Carter Gym and fill the bleachers to cheer the players on! The Big Game at Grayslake North High School last year put a smile on everyone’s face, and this year’s Big Game at Hersey will do the same!
To watch the game, click here.
School Rebrands With Original Logo, New Motto, Fresh Paint
by: Amelia Zollner
As students returned from summer break, they were greeted by a partially revamped school design, composed of a new logo, motto, and design around the school. The school’s new design came after many students, teachers, and administrators noted the school’s aging design over the past few years, believing that a facelift has been long overdue. “The building’s 50 years old, and in many ways it looks 50 years old,” Associate Principal Ron Kiolbassa said.
Recognizing the need for a facelift for the school, a group of administrators, external designers, and custodial and maintenance workers began working on revamping the school this summer. Principal Gordon Sisson formed the school’s branding vision, with Kiolbassa, Associate Principal Joe Krajacic, Assistant Principal John Novak, math teacher Chris Kiepura, and business teacher Daniel Vesper serving as members of the branding committee. Graphics work was done by graphic arts teacher Greg Miller and professional graphic artist Amanda Russo. Additionally, designer Annie Egler designed the cafeteria and commons and Patrick Kagan served as the graphics vendor. Maintenance department staff Rob Morgan, Dom Dicosola, and Javier Saucedo performed many of the school’s renovations, most notably painting the new designs found around the school.
In order to form a more cohesive brand, the school rolled out a branding booklet, a comprehensive, detail-attentive, 38-page guide that aims to inform various divisions of the proper usage of the school’s brand. The information provided in the branding booklet will be applied to all aspects of the school, appearing everywhere from team uniforms to the bell schedules taped up in every classroom.
Kiolbassa noted that the branding booklet was the result of many sports and clubs creating their own versions of the school’s logo, causing the school to appear less unified. “Over time you get away from your foundation of who you are and what you stand for by letting different people do what they want to do, and it’s all with good intention but it doesn’t have a whole lot of continuity,” Kiolbassa said. “We needed to get back to who we are and what we stand for and rebuild the foundation of the dog face, the color scheme, and the way it can be used.”
Within the branding booklet is a new school logo. The administration had decided that the previous logo, which had become aged and was subject to controversy regarding copyright issues, was ready to be retired.
The new logo depicts the eyes of a huskie resting above the school’s iconic stripes, a combination of what many administrators argued represents the school best. “When I think of a huskie, it’s not of its growl or its bite or its scratch, but it’s the intensity in their eyes,” Kiolbassa said. “We are a focused, purposeful institution in whatever endeavor… that’s what a huskie is, it mushes thousands of miles with someone telling it to pull a sled. It’s loyal and it’s focused, so that’s why we went with the eyes as the focus.”
In addition to the new logo, the school also received a new motto: “Your story starts here”. The school’s new motto draws upon the school’s namesake, award-winning journalist John Hersey, and his history as an author. “A lot of institutions are using something [with the word] ‘story’,” Krajacic said. “In reality, when you think about it, it kind of does start from here.”
Employing aspects of the new logo and motto specified in the branding booklet, over the summer, the administration set out to redesign portions of the school, including the Carter Gym’s doors, the cafeteria and commons, and the lobby. The most well-received aspect of the school’s redesign was the entryway, featuring the school’s new logo. In a survey of 438 students, the majority of 31.1% said that their favorite part of the new design was the entryway.
Another aspect of the school’s new appearance that has sparked conversations has been the new paint job in the cafeteria and commons areas. Designed by Egler, these two areas feature more modern, bright color schemes, most notably the gray, brown, and orange designs that tie in elements of the school’s new logo on the wall of the cafeteria. The cafeteria wall also features inspirational quotes, such as “Will it be easy? Nope. Worth it? Absolutely.”
So far, the designs have been well-received by students, both by upperclassmen who had grown accustomed to the previous designs and freshmen who have mostly only seen the current designs. “I think my favorite part about the new design is the repainting in the cafeteria,” freshman Anjaly Mathew said. “... I like having a more modernized space to hang out and eat [my] lunch.” In a survey of 437 students, 59.3% said that they believe the new school designs are a positive addition to the school environment.
Redesigning the school has been a costly process, and some students have expressed concerns about their activities losing funds due to the school’s new renovations. However, the funding for these renovations comes from a district-allocated budget for building operations as well as various donors from booster clubs. “It’s not like you’re not getting iPads or you’re not getting comfy chairs in the library, these are things that we might have to internally make a decision on—we might not replace the ceiling in one room because we’re going to replace the tile in another,” Kiolbassa noted. “It’s stuff you wouldn’t notice anyways.”
As part of many conversations sparked by aspects of the school’s new design, many students have offered up their own suggestions for future design changes to the school. “[I would] probably make it more colorful and not so bland,” senior Yanicka Kastner said. “It feels really gloomy sometimes and, with color, it would probably be more exciting.
Many administrators noted that the changes recently added to the school only reflect a small portion of what the school’s future holds. Currently, the school aims to repaint lockers, paint and add graphics to other hallways, and potentially add designs to the stairwells. “When we get a chance, we’re going to try to paint the other [hallway], then eventually the idea is to paint the lockers,” Krajacic said. “That’s really expensive and it takes a long time, but we’re also going to add graphics in those areas too.”
Although it will take time to introduce other portions of the school’s new design, administrators hope that these, as well as the changes they have already rolled out, will make the school a better, more positive environment to learn in. “We want you to come to school and say, ‘Oh, this is pretty bright,’ rather than, ‘Oh, this is a dungeon,’” Krajacic said.
‘There is No Planet B’: Chicago Students Strike Against Climate Crisis
by: Amelia Zollner
On Sept. 20, millions of people in over 150 countries throughout the world skipped school and work to protest for stricter laws to combat the climate crisis. The climate strikes were largely inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who began skipping school every Friday to raise awareness of the climate crisis, and in turn were organized by students hoping to make a change. The strikes fell just a few days ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit and were collectively recorded to be the largest climate protest in history.
One of the country’s largest climate strikes took place in Chicago, with thousands of students from the Chicagoland area heading downtown to stand up for what they believe in. “Climate change is the issue that concerns me the most. I’m so scared that our leaders are not taking this seriously enough. Since I will be able to vote during this election cycle, I have been trying to be more politically active and aware of what is going on in our nation and our world,” senior Claire Dwyer said.
To prepare for the march, many students made signs reflecting their beliefs regarding the climate crisis. Some were serious, others were funny, referencing memes and popular culture to convey their messages. A few protestors even chose to recreate the sign Thunberg began the movement with. “My sign said “Anti-death penalty” and had a drawing of the Earth in an electric chair getting shocked,” junior Logan Johnson said. “It was meant to reflect the role of the government on the destruction of our planet. It was also a statement on the wasteful use of our resources.”
On the morning of Sept. 20, protestors gathered in Grant Park. After speakers prepared everybody, protestors than began marching to Federal Plaza. During the march, chants broke out, protestors conversed with one another, and signs were raised. “Thousands of people were striking,” junior Annica Gerstung said. “It was super cool to experience the diversity of everyone there, it was youth-oriented but people of all ages attended. Little kids went on their parents’ shoulders, people rode bikes, and there were some people in wheelchairs, too. It really shows how climate change is an issue that everyone has to deal with, regardless of age.”
After marching through the streets of Chicago, the protestors ended their journey in Federal Plaza. Some gathered around a small stage to listen to various speakers’ speeches while others led chants and danced, reflecting the climate strike’s peaceful yet powerful atmosphere. “It felt like everyone had a place there, every poster left some impact on a stranger, every conversation brought us closer to environmental change,” Gerstung said.
The students who participated in the climate strike hope that their actions will inspire change in the government in the near future, especially during the UN Climate Action Summit. “I think, if anything, this strike will show people that we won’t stop fighting and that we truly care,” Johnson said. “We will no longer be ignored, the time for action is now, whether you like it or not.”
A "Funner" Day for Huskies & Special Education Students
by: Amelia Zollner and Claire Dwyer
Students in Service Over Self and special education students from around Arlington Heights gathered in the field house for Funner Olympics on May 22.
Every year, Funner Olympics hosts a variety of games and activities. Some students acted as a buddy for the special education students while others ran booths, allowing for a wide variety of games and activities that students were free to navigate their ways through. “I liked running a booth because I got to interact with many different children instead of just one,” sophomore Lauren Steininger said.
Funner Olympics provided an opportunity for special education students to try new activities. “[Something new I tried was] the party bus,” Jocelyn Doby, a student from Miner School, said. From flying kites to sidewalk chalk, plenty of activities are available to capture each student’s unique interests.
The young students aren’t the only ones who enjoy the experience. JHHS student quote. High school students find joy through giving back to the community and interacting with the students.
“I was able to connect with my buddy at funner Olympics particularly through dancing,” sophomore Joanna Malec said. “She had such an amazing attitude the whole day and loved to dance all over the dance area.”
The teachers of the young students laud the event as an opportunity for their young students to reach outside of their comfort zone and as a break from their typical routine.“They really look forward to it every year. They love having a high school buddy for the day, and getting to be with their peers, but in a different, less restrictive environment. It’s a great opportunity for them to grow socially too. It’s a fun day, all about them, and I know they really appreciate and enjoy it. Even if they can’t quite articulate it the way we can,” Corrie Freres, a teacher at Miner School, said.
With hopes to continue this unique tradition for years to come, students are excited for the opportunities that lie ahead, recognizing that the months of planning the event pay off with the smiles that the event creates.
“The other kids and buddies at Funner Olympics seemed to be having an amazing time! Everywhere I looked I saw smiles and laughter making the whole environment an amazing one to experience,” Malec said. “It felt really good seeing so many Hersey students help out in such a unique day.”
Graduation Seating Brings Stress
by: Claire Dwyer
Graduation season is rapidly approaching, and with the joy and excitement for many graduates, there is also stress. From receiving enough tickets for the ceremony, seating at the ceremony, along with pictures and other logistics, seniors have a lot to plan out leading up to graduation day celebrations.
The ticket policy for graduation is very strict. Every graduate receives 4 tickets, and with every family receiving no more than 7 tickets during the ticket lottery in February, there is sometimes a scramble to receive extra tickets. “I was able to get enough tickets as I wasn’t inviting many family. If I had tried to invite everyone I wanted to then I definitely would not have had enough tickets,” senior Lucy Bornhorst said.
Due to the limited seating capacity of the gym, with 2000 seats available in the gym and an additional 475 tickets available in the theater, tickets are almost always extremely limited.
However, some graduates enjoy the limited number of tickets available. “Only the people in my immediate family want to come and they are covered,” senior Cassidy Ginder said. “I wish they could fit everyone into the gym, but the theater is a nice option for grandparents and other relatives that need better seats than the bleachers,” Bornhorst said.
Some students believe an outdoor ceremony could be a possible solution. “If it’s outside, hopefully then you could have more family members there. I’m really worried we won’t have enough tickets because we have a massive family,” junior Dana Palmer said.
However, even with the possibilities of an outdoor ceremony allowing for more space, the question of the weather always loom. “For the current system, I think that it is nice to have technological availabilities in the gym, such as air conditioning and easier microphone control, but I would not have a problem with them moving the ceremony outside. I think that the current processes are easier though because they are not weather dependent,” Ginder said.
Some schools have graduation ceremonies at other venues for increased seating capacity, which some believe could be a possible solution to seating capacity limitations. “I know Fremd does theirs at the Sear Center, which would be a better spot as we could fit lots of people, and it would be better seats,” Bornhorst said.
Upcoming seniors, however, hope to see some changes with the current system. “The gym is just so crowded, and hot, and just really congested. I remember the Thomas graduation was just really crowded,” junior Gwen Scott said.
Proposed Club Encourages Girls in STEM
by: Claire Dwyer
Women comprise approximately half of the US workforce, but only 29% are in STEM related fields, according to the National Girls Collaboration Project. In addition, of this 29%, only 25% are in the field of computer science and only 15% are in the field of engineering.
Rising seniors Amélie Smithson and Karolina Groszewska have a plan to try and change some of these statistics. The pair introduced a plan to establish a new computer coding club, called Techettes, with an emphasis on encouraging girls into STEM related fields.
“Our goal for the club is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for girls interested in learning about Computer Science. We hope to teach girls about coding and about the opportunities out there for them in Computer Science,” Smithson said.
STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math, is one of the fastest growing fields in the workforce. And although women earn nearly 60% of all bachelor’s degrees in the US as of 2013, but only 18% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science majors. The lack of gender diversity has prompted some to take action at an earlier stage, exposing female students to STEM opportunities at a younger age.
Starting next school year, Smithson and Groszewska hope the club brings new opportunities and resources for beginning and expert coders alike. With a final goal of possibly coding a complete video game, the two hope to spark student’s interests in STEM related majors and careers. The club is also ideal for students who may have limited flexibility in their schedules to take a full computer science course.
Techettes also hopes to curb some negative stereotypes associated with STEM related careers. When middle school aged girls were asked to describe what they thought of when they heard of a coder, Fortune reports that students often responded with “nerdy” or “a man”. With an encouraging club supporting students every step of the way, Smithson and Groszewska hope to shed light on the positives of gender diversity in computer science.
First Dance Marathon Makes a Big Impact For the Kids
by: Claire Dwyer
The inaugural Dance Marathon was held on March 9 in the Carter Gym. The new school fundraiser, benefiting patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, raised $25,921.
The event was sponsored by SOS, partnered with the Children’s Miracle Network. Money raised provides patients with cutting edge treatments and medical equipment and supports the many doctors, nurses, and researchers at Lurie’s who provide high quality care to thousands of children annually.
For the inaugural event, students wore all white outfits including the program’s “For The Kids” t-shirts.
Health and PE classes learned dances to participate in throughout the night, in addition to a homecoming-like atmosphere complete with a DJ. “It was very fun. It was similar to a school dance, but we are all there to support a common cause and it was just dancing the entire time,” junior Lia Sommer said.
Although the dancing was the highlight of the event, other activities throughout the night included raffles, a lip sync battle of juniors against seniors, and a ten minute turbo. In addition, students heard stories from families that the Children’s Miracle Network helps support through dance marathons.
Various teams even participated in a game of tug of war. “The tug of war was really fun because I got to participate with my teammates. It was a great team bonding activity,” senior Claire Lutz said, who participated in the event with her water polo team.
In addition to these activities, teachers also participated in a contest to get “pied” during the event. Teachers who raised the most money were “pied”. “It was good to see teachers also participating in the event and that they were really invested in it too,” Sommer said.
Poetry Out Loud Comes to Hersey
by: Claire Dwyer
As second semester starts up, the English department’s new all-school assignment, Poetry Out Loud is underway. The unique assignment, for students of all grade levels, is bringing the student body together for the nationwide contest.
The assignment is simple: students in all English classes are to memorize and perform a poem to their class. Classmates vote for a representative from their class to participate in the school wide contest. Winners of the school wide test go to the regional competition in Chicago, where they will compete with others for prize money. “There’s a general positive buzz, and I think the reason for this positive buzz is that we’re all in this together,” English teacher Lara Becker said.
Poetry Out Loud is a national organization dedicated to teaching students about poetry in the classroom and teach public speaking skills. “It was such a joy, because every single kid was really trying, it was so cute. They were really trying to give each poem its due merit with the speaker’s intent,” Becker said.
The state contest winner receives $200 in prize money and money for the trip to the National Finals in Washington DC. The National Finals are scheduled for April 30- May 1, 2019, and the state finals will be held in mid-March.
In Distirct 214, both Wheeling and Rolling Meadows High School are also participating in the competition. “We had district workshops in the summer. At our district workshop this summer, Rolling Meadows High School is working on something and Wheeling High School I believe is working on something, too, and i know for sure they are also participating as well,” Becker said.
As for choosing their poems, students were given a lot of freedom with a variety of options from the Poetry Out Loud website. Freshman chose poems related to identity, Sophomores chose poems that related to archetypes, juniors chose poems written by American authors, and seniors were assigned to choose poems from specific time periods. “When I was choosing a poem, I knew I wanted something that wasn’t too difficult to memorize but also on a topic that was interesting,” junior Isa Hahn said.
Although the idea of reciting a poem in front of an audience seems daunting, English teachers have plenty of useful tips to help students succeed. ”The biggest tip I can give anyone who is in Poetry Out Loud is practice. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself, perform for an audience, because when you practice the more comfortable you will be with your performance,” Ams said.
A main takeaway of the all-school assignment has been the unifying factor. “I’ve heard seniors talking with freshmen, and sophomores talking with juniors, and it’s just kind of cool. There’s a common assignment for every single level and if nothing else you have this, ‘What poem are you doing?’” Becker said.
With students of all skillsets given the same task, it creates meaningful connections. “It was fun to hear other people’s poems and it was fascinating to think about the deep meaning of poetry,” freshman Ila Nathanson said.
As students rally together to achieve this school wide assignment, the real meaning behind the competition is not lost on teachers. “This is very different than a Google slide presentation. It is challenging, and that’s good. We should challenge ourselves,” Becker said.
50th Anniversary Homecoming Open House
by: Claire Dwyer
At the 50th Homecoming open house, alumni and staff got the opportunity to reminisce on the past fifty years of Hersey and their high school memories. The alumni open house, held in the East Gym, had yearbooks, newspaper articles, and memorabilia for alumni, staff, students, and family and friends to look back on and see the changes from the past fifty years.
Alumni also got the chance to tour the building and interact with current staff and students.
“It was really cool seeing so many people that used to go to Hersey. I met a bunch of people who graduated in the 1970s,” junior Erin Rodriguez said. “Also, I was standing by the East Gym, and this part of the school is fairly new, so it was cool to see everyone’s reactions. They were all especially amazed at our weight room.”
“This [small gym] was all outdoor space. The band was exactly the same, it was so funny and so was the theater and the Home Ec. room were the same. We used to call it the little theater but I don’t know why,” alumna Lynn Ekblad Sotlar (‘70) said.
Alumni shared memories of their favorite teachers, classes, and activities from their high school years. “The band was just the best thing in my whole life here. It totally changed my life. Mr. Caneva [the first band director] was a life changer and I think everyone in band would say that,” Sotlar said.
As alumni discussed their favorite teachers and classes, the lasting positive impact in their lives from these teachers became apparent.
“I was an associate news editor of The Correspondent, I was on it for two to three years it was a great time and it helped my writing skills helped me immensely. My time on The Correspondent taught me to think like a writer,” alumnus Bill Regan (‘72) said. “Mr. Wilferd [The Correspondent’s first adviser] made us think of five ideas of news stories every week. We were trained to constantly think of ideas to write about, and it really stimulated our creative thinking, which helped so much for my future career in the corporate world.”
Former teachers also got a chance to explore the school and talk to former students. Former French teacher Suzanne Sharer shared her memories from her first year teaching, “I was here on opening day because it was my student teaching year. It was actually the very first day the school opened. NIU sent me here because I was student teaching that year. I started student teaching at Hersey in the spring, and i was hired the for the following school year in September,” Sharer said.
Sharer taught from 1968 to 2002.
The 50th anniversary was a celebration of Hersey’s unique culture and the students and staff that have shaped it over the years.
Lemonade for Lendino's
by: Claire Dwyer
After a tragic car accident that killed rising Junior Alyssa Lendino friends and family, such as juniors Taylor Hall and Dana Lundstrom decided to help the Lendino family anyway they could. Even with a successful Go-Fund Me campaign, friends decided they wanted to do even more to help. The idea of setting up lemonade stands around the community came up as a way to inform the community and support the Lendino family.
“Our friend group over the summer [with Alyssa] always wanted to do a lemonade stand. We did one last summer, too,” Hall said.
“We were trying to think of something that would make money to support them, because they already had the go fund me, but we didn’t know what else to do and to get the community to know about it,” Lundstrom said. “We thought ‘Oh let’s do this after church or at the car show so more people would see it.’”
“It was like a wave,” said Hall.
Throughout the weekend of August 3rd, the Mount Prospect community rallied together and supported a dozen lemonade stands from St. Emily’s Church to the Mount Prospect Lions Club’s Bluesmobile Cruise Night. “Even people who didn’t want lemonade just came over and gave us money saying, ‘Keep it, keep it,’ It was amazing,” Hall said.
“A lot of police officers at the auto show donated money, it was really kind,” Lundstrom said. “As soon as we had fliers and started handing them out, more people started coming because they realized, like, we didn’t just want money,” Hall said.
In addition to families and community events hosting lemonade stands, local businesses pitched in to help as well.
“At Capannari’s, if you ordered a limoncello, so almost like lemonade, half of the money would go to Alyssa’s family. Also, if you went to Mrs. P & Me and mentioned them, you could get 10% off your bill to go to the family,” Lundstrom said.
The success of the lemonade stand quickly led to more, including one at an Indian Princesses Car Wash at Grace Lutheran Church. “It was so cool to see how many people knew about it before we even said anything. When we handed them the flier, people would say, ‘Oh I heard about this,’ It was really neat to see,” Hall said.
Overall, about 20 Hersey students helped out at the different lemonade stands each day. “There really were a lot, between who made posters, who were there and who stopped in. A bunch of Hersey students and students from around the area stopped by,” Lundstrom said. “We also had a wagon that we took to the train station and got a lot of people who were going to Lollapalooza.”
In addition to the Lemonade for the Lendino’s fundraiser, the track team, which Lendino was a member of, started a shoe fundraiser through the organization Sneakers4Funds. Gym shoes donated to Hersey or a variety of UPS stores throughout the suburbs will raise money for the Lendino family.
To see footage from the event, click here. Video by Hannah Grawe.