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CHAMPAIGN – Most school district employees are thinking about finishing up this school year, but the staff at the Family Information Center is focused on next year.
They are still juggling waiting lists for most of the district's elementary schools and getting late applications for kindergarten students for the fall.
URBANA – Lauren Ellis should have been walking across a stage to receive her high school diploma Sunday afternoon.
Instead, she graduated while sitting in a wheelchair in the hospital, with a drain in her infected right leg.
The astronauts lean back in their seats, looking at the monitor as the countdown begins in the darkened space shuttle.
The automated voice counts down, "10, 9, 8 ... ," as 17 faces grow tense and excited, bodies shifting in the cushy pilot chairs.
RANTOUL – Sister Sara Koch will retire as principal at St. Malachy School in Rantoul this summer after serving in that position for 16 years. She will work part time as St. Malachy parish's spiritual life coordinator.
Sister Koch said she loves St. Malachy because of the cohesion among students, parents, staff and faculty members.
CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board voted Wednesday night to extend Superintendent Arthur Culver's contract two more years, to June 30, 2011.
The board met in closed session for about three hours Wednesday to evaluate Culver before voting on the contract extension. The vote was 5-2, with board members Dave Tomlinson and Arlene Blank voting no.
SPRINGFIELD – Education funding advocates reacted warily on Tuesday to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's dramatic plan to pump more money into schools by leasing or selling the Illinois Lottery.
"We have to be willing to do things differently," Blagojevich stated in a press release after appearing at a Chicago school. "We have a lot of schools that do well, but we have too many schools that don't. This is a plan that carefully looks at what our kids need to succeed, and boldly proposes the changes needed to help them get there. It will take time, money, hard work and a tolerance for change. But if we're willing to do that, we can make a real difference in the lives of millions of children."
CHAMPAIGN – When the students at Carrie Busey Elementary School enter their school's library, they are transported around the world by scenes of the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids of Egypt, the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House.
A new mural in the library, created by Centennial High School art students, portrays the "Carrie Busey World."
URBANA – For Kathy Perkins and Jayner Bryant, Sunday's walk across the Assembly Hall stage to get their Urbana High School diplomas has been a long time coming.
Both women dropped out of high school.
CHAMPAIGN – To find the institutional memory of the Champaign school district, look no further than Greg Novak.
The Jefferson Middle School librarian is retiring this week after 31 years with the school district. During most of that time, he's been active in the teachers' union, and he's been president of the Champaign Federation of Teachers since 2001.
CHAMPAIGN – Alice Fletcher says that the Dr. Howard Elementary School is a priceless part of her neighborhood.
Fletcher remembers walking to Dr. Howard School when she was a child back in the 1940s.