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Angela Simpson surveys her room a little nervously.
Over the last week, she's made the Yankee Ridge Elementary School classroom her own, putting in late nights organizing chairs and tables, setting up her desk, arranging all the school supplies and pictures of monkeys on the wall just so.
DANVILLE – Vermilion County Probation Supervisor Bill Day had one piece of advice for probation officer Mark Learnard when he left to take a teaching job at Danville High School earlier this month: Don't let the seniors sell you an elevator pass.
When he was a student, the seniors would sell "elevator passes" to the younger students as a joke, but students weren't allowed on the school's freight elevator, Day recalled.
URBANA – Urbana and Danville laid a hero to rest Saturday, with a line of dozens of cars and motorcycles following Spc. Justin Penrod's hearse from his funeral to Danville National Cemetery.
Spc. Penrod, 24, who lived in Danville, Rantoul and Mahomet before he was killed in his second tour of duty in Iraq, was remembered as a loving brother, father, son and husband Saturday at Urbana Assembly of God Church.
DANVILLE – In honor of Army Spc. Justin Penrod, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer has requested that all American flags throughout the city be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday.
"I also request, as a show of support to his family, that all residents display flags, bunting, signs or other forms of patriotism, to denote our appreciation for his willingness to give his life for the freedom of others," Eisenhauer said in a press release.
DANVILLE – Brenda Demos took time at this week's staff meeting to remember a woman who served the Danville school district through her love of children.
"Every community needs a Josephine," Demos, Danville schools director of food services, told her staff.
TOLONO – Days after her granddaughter died after falling from a bunk bed at a slumber party, Judy Thrower said Taitum Nelson will be dearly missed.
"She just was full of sunshine and laughter. She was so spontaneous; she just was a joy to have around," said Thrower, a Tolono resident. "She was just so full of life that, any minute, I expect to see her come dancing in the room."
CHAMPAIGN – Traumatic brain injuries are the "signature wound" of battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sen. Dick Durbin said on a visit to a wounded Champaign veteran.
The Illinois Democrat was at the house of Sgt. Garrett Anderson, who spent 18 months struggling to get full benefits for his grievous wounds.
VILLA GROVE – In August 1994, a wide-eyed and excited 3-year-old Bryan Ray began his first day of preschool.
This week Ray, now 15, will start his sophomore year at Villa Grove High School without having missed a single day of attendance since he started that first year.
MAHOMET – Next time you want to know how much freedom costs, the Marine veteran said to a group of solemn mourners, go out and look up at the stars in the night sky.
"Sometimes God takes our sharpest and brightest stars," said Bud Hooser, commander of Mahomet American Legion Post 1015.
DANVILLE – Danville native son and NASAastronaut Joe Tanner will be on hand Saturday as the United Way of Danville Area hosts its first Day of Caring.
"The Day of Caring is a national United Way program," said Jeanne Mulvaney, president of the local organization. "It's something you can take and design it to fit the needs of your specific community."