What's cool in school, Jan. 23, 2015

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What's cool in school, Jan. 23, 2015

A weekly area update

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Urbana Middle School's gym is back in commission after a semester-long shutdown for repairs due to water damage and mold. After holiday break, an all-school assembly was held in the gym to welcome back students and check out the refinished space.

"Our new gym is awesome," Principal Scott Woods said. "All of our PE classes that should be in the gym are back in the gym, and both our boys' basketball and girls' volleyball teams have been able to host home games."

The new gym will be the host of the boys' regional basketball tournament this weekend and the state boys' basketball tournament next month.

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Five area districts — Georgetown-Ridge Farm, Monticello, Thomasboro, Urbana and Villa Grove — have been chosen by the State Board of Education to pilot new, state-developed math units. The curriculum aligns with new Common Core standards that focus on national benchmarks for depth of knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving skills in math. The pilot program is designed to help educators develop curriculum that meets state and national learning standards.

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Centennial High School's Aliyah Maldonado will be honored during her third-hour class today by local business owner Habeeb Habeeb for her "hard work and genuine attitude." Habeeb recently had a positive encounter with Maldonado while she was working the drive-thru at KFC on Springfield in Champaign. Habeeb gave her a tip for being kind and wrote about the encounter on Facebook, which received 2,500-plus likes.

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The Campus Middle School for Girls' robotics team will join 64 other schools at the University of Illinois on Saturday in the First Lego League Central State Tournament. Hundreds of elementary and middle school students will participate in the Lego design competition, which aims to help kids enjoy taking part in STEM activities.

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Your 2015 Good Citizens award winners, honored by the Ford County chapters of the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution: Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School seniors Abby Sellek and Kade Hill, and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School seniors Mallory Bauer and Devyn Roesch.

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Jefferson Middle School picked up a $5,000 grant from the Lowe's Toolbox for Education program to help renovate its courtyard into an outdoor classroom and improve its library programs. The outdoor classroom space will be used to learn about prairie ecosystems and pond ecology. A portion of the grant money will be spent on purchasing seating and workspace for up to 30 students, as well as patio heaters so the learning space can be used for longer periods during the school year.

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Three cheers to the members of Tuscola High School's Class of '64, who donated two iPads to their alma mater, raising the number of district-owned tablets to 140, and to the Urbana-Champaign Marine Corps League, which donated $1,000 to the Gremer Weight Room Project at Urbana HighSchool.

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Attention, parents of Champaign kindergartners-to-be: The first of two information sessions for Unit 4's school-of-choice process is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Stratton Elementary. ... Rantoul High School will hold an incoming freshmen open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday. ... New training for Champaign-Urbana's One-to-One Mentoring program will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 29 at the Urbana Free Library.

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