Welcome to Year 5 of High School Confidential, an award-winning project made possible by aspiring student journalists from every corner of our circulation area. Each Friday through May, they’ll tell us what’s happening in their hallways at news-gazette.com.
Once a week, we’ll also hand over our Snapchat account (News-Gazette) to our correspondents for behind-the-scenes tours.
Feeback? Email N-G/VP Jim Rossow at email@example.com.
This year's panel:
— Reese Anderson, Chrisman
— Jose Alvarez, Urbana
— Briana Ballard, Academy
— Chloe Becker, DeLand-Weldon
— Jada Bonam, Centennial
— Lillian Bouton, Georgetown-Ridge Farm
— Lexi Breymeyer, Hoopeston Area
— Bryce Burnett, Westville
— Raegan Cheek, ALAH
— Olivia Chew, Salt Fork
— Cassandra Colmenares, Academy High
— Clara Rudolph, Monticello
— Ava Cothron, Tuscola
— Kate Cramer, Mahomet-Seymour
— Aaliyah Denius, Oakwood
— Kylie Duckett, St. Joseph-Ogden
— Charlotte Ebel, Uni High
— Malia Fairbanks, Unity
— Hailey Gadbury, Bement
— Haven Hathaway, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley
— Leilani Islam, Danville
— Fabiola Jaramillo, Arcola
— Audrey Kaeb, Cissna Park
— Jordin Lucht, Milford
— Mason McMasters, Armstrong-Potomac
— Taylor Mennenga, Paxton-Buckley-Loda
— Morgan Miller, BHRA
— Addison Musick, Fisher
— Daniel Olson, Villa Grove
— Kitty Rossow, Central
— Anna Sanders, Heritage
— Courtney Shane, Blue Ridge
— Emerson Tarr, LeRoy
— Felicity Tuan, Judah Christian
— Maci Walters, St. Thomas More
On to this week's report:
Leading up to Valentine’s Day, juniors and seniors celebrated by dressing up and giving candy grams. Pictured: William Ding and Megan Wiarda.
— Briana Ballard
The annual Winter Follies, a talent show put on by student council, took place last Friday. Pictured: Drumline and Quinn Taylor performing.
— Reagan Cheek
Seniors get to participate in a weekly contest, guessing “who’s who” by looking at classmates’ kindergarten photos. Pictured: Elizabeth Budd pointing to her kindergarten picture from 12 years ago.
— Fabiola Jaramillo
On Feb. 19, the school celebrated Senior Night. Pictured, left to right: Boys’ basketball coach Wade Rogers, Austin Rosenberger, Trenaty Layton, Rylee Showalter, Casy Howie, Jayce Townsend and cheerleading coach Meghan Rodgers.
— Mason McMasters
At an after-school bags tournament, organized by Kraig Rogers and held in Walsh Gymnasium, the winners were Zain Martin and Aiden Shonkwiler.
— Haily Gadbury
Sophomore Murphy McCool has been calling home varsity basketball games for virtual fans, inviting guest commentators like staff member Michael Grant and BHRA alum Drew Reifsteck during segments.
— Morgan Miller
The school’s new weightroom, which was finished last fall, is a beehive of activity. Currently, the space is being used by boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ swimming, track and field, cheer and volleyball.
— Kitty Rossow
The girls’ basketball team celebrated Senior Night. Pictured: Emily Hylbert (manager), Lauren Kaeb, Allison Wessels, Kristen Walder, Audrey Kaeb, Kenadee Edelman and coach Anthony Videk.
— Audrey Kaeb
The cheerleaders, excited to be back on the floor even with certain restrictions, continue to show their Cardinal spirit. Front row, left to right: Kendl Lemmon, Alexis McDaniels, Kailey Phipps, Haley Chaney, Karlie Adams and Sequoyah Cook; back row: Clara Wheeler, Maecy Johnson, Hannah Lunger, Makenzie Mitchell, Reese Anderson and Sydney Tevebaugh.
— Reese Anderson
Each day of FFA Week has a different theme: 'Merica Monday, Tuesday’s Rival Day, Thursday’s Career Day and Friday’s FFA Day. Wednesdays are a remote day for students, but a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast was held in the morning. Activities ranged from veteran letter writing to a Kahoot! trivia contest to driving-your-tractor-to-school. In past years, a petting zoo took place at the end of the week, but due to COVID-19 it was postponed until spring where it will be held outside.
— Addison Musick
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, FFA activities are being spread over several weeks. A coloring contest is currently taking place at the elementary school.
— Lillian Bouton
On Feb. 20, senior dancers, basketball players and cheerleaders were recognized for their accomplishments and team commitments. Winter sports seniors include: Kadyn Barnes, Ryleigh Brown, Tristan Roesch, Isabel Eichelberger, Emma Swanson, Alex Minion, Karleigh Kietzman, Nicole Schultz, Skyler Funk, Braden Roesch, Bella Amburgery, Nathan Kallal, Parker Rollins, Ethan Garard, Haven Hathaway and Ashlyn Allemand. Pictures courtesy Ryan Minion.
— Haven Hathaway
Students wore John Deere Green and Case IH Red for Tractor Tuesday. The school kicked off National FFA Week on Monday as students participated in dressup days to show support.
— Anna Sanders
Ryleigh Wardell was awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Good Citizenship Award. She is a senior and plans to attend Danville Area Community College to study psychology.
— Lexie Breymeyer
Thanks to the hard work and planning of school administrators and teachers, students were finally able to have a one-day retreat at Grace Church in Mahomet. There, students attended spiritual workshops including “understanding yourself and others” and “beaded beauty,” and Pastor Aaron VanderMolen shared messages on surrendering and diving deeper in faith. Students also had fun competing in knock-out and dodgeball competitions as well as spending free time playing games such as gaga ball, 9-square and foosball. Pictured (bottom): left to right: Ryan Chen, Julian Llano and Toby Tschetter working together during “Tying Knots” workshop led by Dr. Virgil Varvel. Also: Pictured (middle), left to right: Sophia Bengtson, Debra Herche, Melina Luyando and Grace Garrison designing and creating earrings during “Beaded Beauty” workshop led by Herche.
— Felicity Tuan
Pep band seniors were honored with a walk-through, gifts and balloons. The Class of 2021 pep band seniors include (top to bottom): Kaylee Acton, Jacob Gaul, Mary Russell, Mary Thayn and Hallie Buss. Said Acton: “I will definitely miss the games that we got to play at. … I will miss playing my favorite songs with the band.” Added Thayn: “I'm going to miss the people and the shenanigans. My favorite part about pep band is just playing our hearts out and the music is all around me and it feels pretty epic. I'm gonna miss it. Pep band will always be my favorite.”
— Emerson Tarr
Math teacher Matt Ryan’s Freshmen Mentor Program (FMP) celebrated its win in a contest against another FMP.
— Kate Cramer
Lifesavers organized Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week. Members created informational fliers and posters to put around the school, and purple awareness ribbons were distributed. Pictured: senior Lifesaver leader Andrew Rudolph.
— Clara Rudolph
The boys’ and girls’ basketball teams celebrated Senior Night. Pictured: Brevin Wells (escorted by Justin and Amanda Wells) and Isaiah Ruch (escorted by Rob and Laura Ruch); and Tiffany Paris (escorted by Bryan and Shelley Elliot) and Aaliyah Denius (escorted by Renee Denius and Stephanie Marsh).
— Aaliyah Denius
Ryder James broke the indoor 1,600-meter school record with a time of 4 minutes, 26 seconds. He also broke the 3,200 school record — set in 1982 – in 9:29.
— Taylor Mennenga
Senior Payton Vallee was awarded the Presidents Scholarship from Indiana State University, where she will be attending school in the fall. About 900 students are eligible for this scholarship, 70 receive an interview, and 18 end up with the award, which is good for four years in-state tuition, room and board, and fees.
— Kylie Duckett
St. Thomas More
Art students are running a competition to donate supplies to schools and hospitals in need. Head teacher of the art program, Deborrah Pagel, is in charge of the collection (Feb. 16-26), working with students to make posters to place around school to raise awareness.
— Maci Walters
The girls’ basketball celebrated Senior Night with a win against Westville. Pictured, left to right: Carsyn Todd, Lexi Hettmansberger, Mackenzie Russell, Olivia Chew and Jaiden Baum.
— Olivia Chew
It’s FFA week. Pictured at Twin Day: Dylan Homann, Skylar Wilkins, Amelia Bosch, Addi Fowler and Michelle Reese.
— Ava Cothron
The school’s annual Agora Week allows students, faculty, and community members to teach classes on their passions. This year’s offerings ranged from a “Master Chef” cooking class, taught by students Andrea Li and Sophie Anderson, to a “K-Pop” class, taught by students Allie Kim, Anna Park and Maddie Kim. Students could take up to four classes, and the diverse offerings ensured that everyone found their niche. Pictured: raspberry lemon cupcakes made at home by “Master Chef” students.
— Charlotte Ebel
For FFA week, Unity’s FFA chapter grilled and sold pork chops as well as chips, baked goods and soda to the community and school. Pictured: Destiny Williamson selling chips to students.
— Malia Fairbanks
Freshman class officers got everyone to bring in treats for National Dog Biscuit Day, which included a visit from a four-legged friend named Bethany, a comfort dog who was a hit with students. Also, construction has also started on the track and football field.
— Bryce Burnett