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 hand over our Snapchat account (News-Gazette) to our correspondents for behind-the-scenes tours.
Feeback? Email N-G/VP Jim Rossow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year's panel:
— Reese Anderson, Chrisman
— Jose Alvarez, Urbana
— Briana Ballard, Academy
— Chloe Becker, DeLand-Weldon
— Jada Bonam, Centennial
— Lexi Breymeyer, Hoopeston Area
— Bryce Burnett, Westville
— Raegan Cheek, ALAH
— Olivia Chew, Salt Fork
— Cassandra Colmenares, Academy
— Clara Rudolph, Monticello
— Hayden Copass, Georgetown-Ridge Farm
— Ava Cothron, Tuscola
— Kate Cramer, Mahomet-Seymour
— Aaliyah Denius, Oakwood
— Kylie Duckett, St. Joseph-Ogden
— Charlotte Ebel, Uni High
— Malia Fairbanks, Unity
— Andrew Ferguson, Fisher
— 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
— Daniel Olson, Villa Grove
— Tony Owen, Rantoul
— 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:
In a "Headline Wednesday" class led by teacher Jordan Conerty, students across all grade levels discuss recent news articles. This week, sophomore Sinan Sehitoglu gave a presentation on the distribution phases of a COVID-19 vaccine, sophomore Jongmin Philiph discussed the impacts of air pollution in India, freshman Caleb Moore explained the effects and solutions of e-waste and freshman Baraka Culpepper explored what it might take to change someone's mind.
— Briana Ballard
Journalism 1 students Vanessa Condarco and Cody Coombe work on getting comfortable with the yearbook design program. Normally called The Torch, the yearbook in 2021 will be named Our Adventure, detailing how COVID-19 impacted so many things at school.
— Fabiola Jaramillo
At the school’s Thanksgiving lunch on Nov. 19, Jaci Davis and Kimberly Newberry made pumpkin pie.
— Mason McMasters
Foods 1 class spent their second consecutive week cooking in the kitchen. Items on the menu include no-bake cookies, grilled cheese, quesadillas and Chicken a la King casserole.
— Hailey Gadbury
Kami Russell’s student council started a service project, making tie blankets to donate to local organizations. Grace Omundson (left) and Cooper Carpenter (right) worked together to make one.
— Morgan Miller
Drumline and Color Guard marched in the 2020 Farmer City Christmas Parade on Sunday afternoon. They were led by drum majors Dylan Kelly and Lexi Young. Band director Chris Mitchell walked alongside them.
— Courtney Shane
Choir completed its first virtual concert — "City of Stars" — which was shared in the daily online announcements. About 15 students participated, director Nick Schulze said. "With singing not being a COVID-friendly activity, the students have been recording themselves singing along with videos of me singing the different parts of the choir," he said. "Our piano accompanist, Bethany Larson, records the accompaniments, and then I sing along with them and send the combination out to the students. They send their videos back, and I edit them together with my original videos. It has been a really cool activity to get voices together during this time of isolation."
— Kitty Rossow
Junior Carnival is an annual event put on by the junior class to raise money. Candidates from each class are chosen to run for king and queen. This year’s king and queen were sophomores John Phipps and Kailey Phipps.
— Reese Anderson
For two weeks, art classes sold Fannie May candies to raise money for the art program. This year’s total (about $6,000) represented a record amount. Pictured: art teacher Erin Debolt and Kaylee McWethy.
— Audrey Kaeb
Seniors were given academic awards for meeting requirements as juniors, including a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or above, being a full-time student, maintaining a full schedule and 5.5 credit hours from their junior year.
— Andrew Ferguson
National Honor Society hosted a ceremony that honored and inducted new junior and senior members. The event included speeches that highlighted the importance of character, service, leadership and scholarship.
— Haven Hathaway
The school’s Future Farmers of America officer team snapped a picture to put on thank-you cards sent to those who donated to the chapter. The officer team in their new polos, back to front: Jack Benschneider, Ryan Cheatham, Cory Stewart, Konner Pearman, Torie Rothermel, Bri Struck, Malani Smithenry, Anna Sanders and Paige George.
— Anna Sanders
On Friday, students were asked to dress like teachers. Pictured: Kylie Pickett and teacher Eric Zorns.
— Lexie Breymeyer
Nathan Kereri and Emily Maxwell are the newly-elected student council president and vice president, respectively. Pictured, left to right: Treasurer Amber Hafermann, Maxwell, Kereri and secretary Natalie Pait.
— Felicity Tuan
The music department put on a production of "The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon," a combination of all 209 fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Cast and crew pulled it off effortlessly. Kaylee Acton, a student director of the wild production, said her favorite part "is watching the whole play come together and watching all the students' hard work pay off." Acton said her experience as a student director was something she would cherish forever.
— Emerson Tarr
The Esports team held a doubles tournament in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate this past weekend, with Anakin DeLong and Enlish teacher Tyler Blanchette taking the championship and Cooper Frerichs and CJ VanHoveln coming in second place. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated or watched on our Twitch channel.
The school went two days into Spirit Week before transitioning to online learning. Pictured in their pajamas: Sophie Rund, Andrew Rudolph, Lewis Smith, Mercy Ratts and Jacob Edmondson. Pictured in their favorite holiday gear: Sierra Sosamon and Joe Walker.
— Clara Rudolph
Last Wednesday, the school’s resource officer, Beth Damilano, and Principal Tim Lee traveled throughout the district to deliver doughnuts to the high-school students on a remote day. Pictured: Lee and Brevin Wells; Damilano and Molly Parker.
— Aaliyah Denius
Sasha Jeffries was announced as November’s Artist of the Month, and Blake Bodine was named Teacher of the Month (pictured: Rebekah Zhao passing the panther to Bodine).
— Taylor Mennenga
Due to Tier 3 mitigations, all sports were put on hold. Said senior dancer Isabelle Brooks: "This year has taken a lot from everyone, and just this past week, it potentially took away winter high-school sports. Although, this devastating news doesn’t mean we athletes have no hope left. I am staying optimistic about this situation in hopes we have some sort of season, because that’s all we athletes can do at this moment."
— Kylie Duckett
ST. THOMAS MORE
Students transitioned to online learning (pictured: Eric Paulus’ sixth-hour stats class using Zoom). Due to online schooling, the administration decided to forgo finals this semester, leaving students stress-free.
— Maci Walters
Club officers from student council, Future Farmers of America and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America went Thanksgiving dinner shopping with special-needs students. The clubs donated money to provide dinner to five families in the community.
— Ava Cothron
The Uni chapter of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) is hosting biweekly drawing sessions on Zoom, open to all students. Each week, senior leaders May Yang and Katie Powers provide attendees with drawing challenges, as well as breakout rooms to hone drawing techniques or work independently. They meet after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with this week’s theme being "Thanksgiving."
— Charlotte Ebel
The ag sales team placed fifth in state. Pictured left to righ: Phillip Hartke, Olivia Shike, Destiny Williamson and Cameran Hanson.
— Malia Fairbanks
Student senate hosted a turkey drive in place of their annual Thanksgiving dinner. Students handed out 300 turkeys donated by Stone Creek Church outside Urbana Middle School.
— Jose Alvarez
Amelia Williams and Daniel Olson sang a duet for the third year in a row at the school's Variety Show.
— Daniel Olson
Band members continue to practice via Zoom as remote learning continues. Also, progress continues on the new gym floor.
— Bryce Burnett