Welcome to Year 6 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. Today, we're at St. Joseph-Ogden for homecoming.
Feeback? Email N-G/VP Jim Rossow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year's panel:
Academy High: William Ding
ALAH: Sarah Rafferty
Arcola: Ariana Carmona
Armstrong: Mattie Kennel
Bement: Addie Fritz
BHRA: Paili Davis
Blue Ridge: Sarah Whitehouse
Centennial: Montez Dubose
Champaign Central: Lucy Moss
Chrisman: Reese Anderson
Cissna Park: Emma Morrical
Danville: Kedzie Griffin
DeLand-Weldon: Kaitlyn Sayers
Fisher: Krista Martin
Georgetown-Ridge Farm: Chloe Brock
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley: Emily Hood
Heritage: Torie Rothermel
Hoopeston Area: Emily Ray
Judah Christian: Kaitlyn Januzik
LeRoy: Kelsey Graves
Mahomet-Seymour: Tinley Peters
Milford: Alivia Schmink
Monticello: Clara Rudolph
Oakwood: Madison Doan
Paxton-Buckley-Loda: Sydney Murphy
Rantoul: Mary Cuppernell
St. Joseph-Ogden: Regan Uden
St. Thomas More: Bailey McMahon
Salt Fork: Olivia Birge
Shiloh: Josephine Carroll
Tuscola: Amelia Bosch
Uni High: Aakash Vasireddy
Unity: Maddie Reed
Urbana: Park Mitchell
Villa Grove: Molly Little
Westville: Bryce Burnett
On to this week's report:
Seniors took a trip to the Sangamon River in Mahomet for their environmental studies course, spending time kayaking and canoeing, picking up trash and collecting various water samples to study in class. Pictured: Richard Miller, David Baker, Caden Green, Jordan Conerty, Shayla Brown and Yoon Freund.
— William Ding
Homecoming court was elected last week. While this year's homecoming will not be completely traditional due to COVID-19 restrictions, the tradition of crowning king and queen at the dance will continue. King candidates are Jace Green, Kade Herschberger, Quentin Day and Trey Wardrip. Queen candidates are Delaney Gillis, Michaela Powell, Kailtyn Zander and Jordan Pratt. The freshman, sophomore and junior classes each vote one girl and boy to represent them as attendants: freshmen Lilian Edwards and Maddix Stirrett, sophomores Lucy Wilber and Jayce Parsons, and juniors Reagan Bowles and Wyatt Hilligoss.
— Sarah Rafferty
Fans participated in Rider Nation’s theme night of “Country Club vs. Country” during a home volleyball match against Villa Grove. Pictured: Karime Esquivel and Max Rodriguez.
— Ariana Carmona
The school’s Future Farmers of America students held their annual back-to-school barbecue at Gann Jepsen Farm, directed by ag teacher Destiny Swalve and the FFA officer team.
— Mattie Kennel
Seniors and their parents have been working University of Illinois concessions stands at football games to fundraise for after-prom. Pictured, front to back: Addie Fritz, Amanda Manuel, Lynn Manuel, Tricia Fritz, Joy Banfield, Sydnie Riddle, Logan Cogdill and Dan Riddle.
— Addie Fritz
Blue Devil Nation raised $4,409.06 for Operation Honor Guard. Last weekend’s football game started with a moment of silence before the Color Guard’s presentation of the flag for the national anthem. At halftime, the Devilettes and marching band delivered wonderful performances. The Blue Devils beat Momence 49-0 as senior Dawson Dodd broke the school record for career touchdown passes.
— Paili Davis
The Marching Knights placed first in Class 1A at a band competition at Eastern Illinois University on Sept. 25. The squad also was awarded Best General Affect and Best Visuals. Pictured: Drum major Lexi Young, guard captain Kallee Steinkamp and drum major Dylan Kelley with their trophies.
— Sarah Whitehouse
The Marching Chargers are coming off a dominating performance at the 19th annual Sage City Invitational on Sept. 18, placing first overall in Class AA and being named overall Grand Champion (Classes A and AA combined). The Chargers, directed by Michael Allen, also won Best Color Guard, Best Drum Major, Best Music and Best Percussion.
Last Wednesday’s annual open house was an opportunity for families to tour the school, get to know their student's teachers and counselors, and meet administration. Originally planned to be held via Zoom, it instead was an in-person event. Pictured, left to right: counselors Kate Sly, Jessica Sopa and Audrey Kim.
— Lucy Moss
In a forestry contest for FFA, contestants from different schools spent the afternoon identifying trees and other items near the course used for the Cowchip Classic.
— Reese Anderson
Last Wednesday, the school’s Future Farmers of America students held a canned food drive. Leading up to it, they visited area towns and collected donations house to house. Overall, they collected more than 10,000 cans that will be donated to several area food pantries.
— Emma Morrical
Micah McGuire and Bryson Perez-Hinton celebrate after a touchdown in last Friday’s football win against Peoria Manual.
— Kedzie Griffin
Anne Anderson’s senior class went on a pilgrimage to Brandi Arnold’s first-grade class after reading Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” on Sept. 24.
— Kaitlyn Sayers
Seniors Jody Reynolds and Katie Landers were named homecoming king and queen.
— Krista Martin
Yearbook club has been working hard on this year’s edition, attending events and taking pictures. Pictured: yearbook students with assistant principal Kristofor Barth and teacher Christopher Davis (right).
— Chloe Brock
The tennis team celebrated Senior Night in honor of Alexis Darbutt, Emily Hood, London Hixson and Juli Sancken. A bulk of the crowd consisted of athletes from other fall sports who came out to support their fellow Falcons: the cheer team, led by Miranda Leonard; and the volleyball team, led by Crystal Richard, Taylor Leake and Brittany Hari.
— Emily Hood
National Honor Society inducted eight new members: Kiley Knoll, Owen Ashbrook, Benjamin Shanks, Katelyn Bensyl, Adena Paul, Abigail Young, Paige George and Emma Young. Current members include Konner Pearman, Sam Gilbert, Torie Rothermel, Brodie Meneely, Lily Ploense, Cole White and Bri Struck.
— Torie Rothermel
The golf team celebrated Senior Night. Pictured, left to right: Kylie Brown, Trenton Betka, Trevor Swartz, Nick Hofer, Ben Brown, Kayden Wallace and Payton Armstrong.
— Emily Ray
During homecoming week, high school students had a fundraiser for supplies for Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center. Students brought in diapers, baby wipes, toys, bottles and blankets to donate. The Ladies Discipleship elective (pictured below), taught by high school Spanish teacher Señora Rogers, helped organize the fundraiser and organize donations. Pictured, left to right: Ayrial Miller, (top) Abi Tapuaiga, (bottom) Kaitlyn Januzik, Grace Bailey, Lydia Lowry, Señora Rogers, Jovona Neely and Preslee Stahl.
— Kaitlyn Januzik
To wrap up homecoming week, Kelsey Nava and Alex Stuepfert were crowned queen and king.
— Kelsey Graves
The junior varsity cheer squad made its debut at the first freshman home football game of the season. Cheerleaders Aubrey Burson, Kadence Desselle and Bryleigh McCarty were all smiles last Thursday night.
— Tinley Peters
Senior English students had to create and perform their own two-person plays. Pictured: Abigail White and Melissa Stimson performing their play about a college student who lives in a haunted house.
— Alivia Schmink
Ahead of homecoming, student council worked tirelessly to plan and decorate. In the spirit of this year's Western theme, vice president Cora Sowinski posed with the latest decorations, admitting to her serious case of Sage Rage. Also created: “wanted” posters for faculty like athletic director Dan Sheehan and art teacher Ryan Stripens.
— Clara Rudolph
A big portion of homecoming week consists of building floats, each class meeting nightly to pull it off. This year, seniors won the float competition with their purple Volkswagen van design, which took a total of 24 hours to complete.
— Madison Doan
The Panther Regiment performed in its first marching band competition of the year at Eastern Illinois University, where they placed third. This year’s show is titled “Lest We Forget: A Tribute To Our Greatest Generation.” The band is taught by Tim Hess and conducted by drum major Mallory Johnson.
— Sydney Murphy
Future Farmers of America leader Nick Cotter, principal Todd Wilson and the marching band took part in the school’s first homecoming tailgate/carnival, which included everyting from fake tattoos to plenty of food. Prior to the tailgate, students and staff paraded around town.
— Mary Cuppernell
For every year’s homecoming assembly, senior cheerleaders devise a silly routine for boys to perform. Pictured: seniors Tyler Altenbaumer and Griffin Roesch and sophomore Braxton Waller lift up junior Payton Carter in a stunt taught by the girls.
— Regan Uden
St. Thomas More
Students, including (left to right) Grace Kreps, Anna Craddock and Audrey Horn, wrote letters to eighth-graders at Catholic middle schools in the area, inviting them to Saturday’s “Junior High” tailgate and football game for an opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a high school student.
— Bailey McMahon
Students spent homecoming week building floats, participating in dressup days and the parade, competing between classes, attending games and the dance, and practicing and playing powderpuff. Making it possible: administration, student council, class sponsors and student council representative Sara Wochner. The seniors won Spirit Week overall but the freshmen won float-building. King and queen were Michael Jones and Carlie Thompson. Seniors also won powderpuff. Pictured: (back row, left to right) Camden Smoot, Colden Earles, Hunter Wantland, Carter Ridge, Michael Jones and Coleman Jessup; (middle row) Carlie Thompson, Maddie Almy, Izzy Kelly and Madisen Munden; and (front row) Alexis Vancamp, Grace Church, Olivia Birge, Naomi Dolan, Olivea Morrison and Brynlee Keeran.
— Olivia Birge
The 2021-2022 National Honors Society officers, left to right: Caroline Smith (secretary), Colby Luth (president), Isabella Dudley (vice president) and Madelyn Cary (treasurer).
— Josie Carroll
Homecoming week included five dressup days, including Twin Day. Pictured (left to right): track stars Alyssa Williams and Logan Wallace; bananas Ben Hornaday and Chris Boyd.
— Amelia Bosch
On Sept. 24, Uni’s community celebrated a special holiday in Asian culture: Moon Festival (also referred to as Mid-Autumn Festival). Organized by sophomore Zhaoxin Sun, students, faculty and staff experienced a variety of food, fashion and performances. Pictured, left to right: seniors Yeowoon Jung, Anna Park, Sally Ma, Zhaohan Sun and Jonathan Yu; and juniors John Brownridge and Elan Pan.
— Aakash Vasireddy
Monday’s theme for the first day of homecoming week: PJ Day. Students are looking forward to the dance on Saturday which will be on the football field for the first time. Pictured, left to right: Grace Renfrow, Hailey Flesch, Anna Hamilton and Blake Kimball.
— Maddie Reed
Sophomore Megan Stumpf reunited with her mentor at the annual mentor reconnection breakfast at the high school. Mentor and community involvement coordinator Lorene Ellinger was excited to have the event back in person. “It is always my favorite event of the year,” she said.
— Park Mitchell
During homecoming week, seniors celebrated winning the school’s spirit stick at halftime of Friday’s football game. The class’ hard work — participating in games, dressup days and float building — paid off. Pictured, left to right: Molly Little, Kirsten Foreman, Ava Vollmer, Jobeth Crafton, Taylur Orwick, Andrea Hall, Morgan Smith and Vanessa Wright.
— Molly Little
Students have enjoyed homecoming week ahead of Friday's football game – the first at the home field since 2019 — and Saturday's dance.
— Bryce Burnett