Category Archives: Kaneland

Photos: A night on the town

Kaneland High School presented its performance of “You Can’t Take It With You,” a comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 in the High School auditorium. It is the story of two families, one wild and eccentric, one straight laced, who are thrown together. Chaos is created (right) when fireworks go off outside while the IRS is visiting.


Paul Sycamore, Essie Carmichael and Grandpa, played by Andrew Tobin, Kyra Trynoski and Mitch Bateman, go about their evening routines.


Tony Kirby and Alice Sycamore, played by Beau Ott and
Kelsey Cotton, having a toast.


Boris Kolenchov (Austin Doyle) gives Essie Carmichael (Kyra Trynoski) a twirl in a scene from “You Can’t Take It With You.”
Photos by Patti Wilk

Photos: Scoring some spaghetti

The Kaneland boys basketball program held it’s fourth annual spaghetti dinner on Nov. 15 at the high school cafeteria. Proceeds benefited the program, and the food was served by the basketball players. Marty Scialabba, 11 (right), gets his helping of food
during the dinner.


A group of kids make a party out
of the dinner by acting silly and
eating treats.

Photos by John DiDonna

Poinsettia Sale

KANELAND—Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters will organize a Poinsettia Sale this holiday season.

The flowers will be available after the eighth-grade band and choir performance on Thursday, Dec. 6, the 7th-grade band and choir performance on Tuesday, Dec. 11, and the high school band and choir performance on Thursday, Dec. 20.

The cost is $15 for one 6-1/2” poinsettia, $25 for two, $40 for three and $50 for four, with sleeves provided for easy carrying and transportation.

Orders are due by Monday, Nov. 19. Make checks payable to Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters. Order forms can be mailed to KPAB, P.O. Box 611, Elburn, IL 60119, or given to the music director.

For more information, contact Robin Urich at (630) 715-6584 or robinurich@sbcglobal.net

Kaneland students honored at Illinois Art Educators conference

KANELAND—Kaneland John Stewart Elementary students Kaley Barsic and Abbie Durbala, and John Shields Elementary student Kamryn Riggle, on Nov. 3 were honored at the Illinois Art Educators Association Conference for outstanding art work. Their pieces were chosen out of 500 applicants for a 40-piece gallery that will travel the state of Illinois for the next year.

Barsic and Durbala’s art teachers are Laura Baker and Heidi Gilkey. Riggle’s art teacher is Colleen Grigg.

FVCC announces Students of the Month for September

KANELAND—Kaneland High School students Paige Nachreiner (Early Childhood II) and Drew Wagner (Electrician II) were recognized by Fox Valley Career Center as Students of the Month for September.

Students receive this honor by demonstrating the ability to do excellent work and accomplish goals in their particular career training program. They must also exhibit a positive attitude, as well as a willingness to work with others and learn.

KHS community helps aid Sandy victims

To help Allyson and Girl Scout Troop 466 with “Hats Off for Hurricane Help”
contribute to the Red Cross’ Sandy relief effort by texting “REDCROSS”
to 90999 for a $10 donation or visit www.redcross.org/charitable-donations

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland High School Assistant Principal Diane McFarlin considers herself a “Jersey girl” at heart. Her husband is from New Jersey, and she grew up near the eastern seaboard.

It’s these ties to the New Jersey area that inspired McFarlin to take action when Hurricane Sandy struck a large part of New York metropolitan area two weeks ago.

McFarlin asked everyone in the KHS community to donate any warm outerwear (all sizes, including coats, gloves and scarves), childrens clothes (all sizes, emphasis on baby clothes) that they have laying around. She currently has a donation box outside of her office.

“We have a lot of friends and family in New Jersey. We vacation there. We’re ocean folks, and we love the east coast,” McFarlin said. “When the hurricane hit, it affected everyone I knew out there. My friends in the northern part of New Jersey—their community was decimated. They were spared themselves, but they experienced lots and lots of damage to their homes. It was like people didn’t have anything out there.”

All donated goods were sent to McFarlin’s friend Johnna and her husband Larry, who live in Highland, New Jersey, and have been helping members of the community who have lost their home and belongings.

“Homes (there) have been destroyed, gasoline is nonexistant and the community needs help. When Johnna can find the time and the power to text and message folks, she says that she and Larry are trying to help the most needy, but it seems everyone needs something,” McFarlin said. “I told her that I work in a very giving community, and said that I would put the word out to (everyone in the community) to find it in their heart to help.”

Many have found it in their heart to do just that, as McFarlin has already shipped over 20 boxes to New Jersey. Kaneland Secretary Laura McPhee said KHS staff went into “full commando mode” and brought in clothing, blankets and baby supplies. McFarlin then shipped out the items at her own expense.

“Johnna and Larry traveled back and forth to give the items to people in the shelters and those that stayed in their homes,” McPhee said.

McPhee’s daughter Allyson decided she wanted to get involved with the Sandy relief effort, too, and with her mom came up with “Hats Off for Hurricane Help.” And with Diane’s blessing, the McPhees began to reach out to members of their family, as well as Allyson’s friends in Girl Scout Troop 466.

“We have been sending carloads of clothing to Jersey, and just yesterday Diane learned that Fort Monmouth (Military base) will be opened up to house-displaced New Jersey residents, as all shelters and temporary housing are used up,” McPhee said.

Allyson also asked her dad to find out if his boss would help defray the cost of shipping goods out to New Jersey. George Flolo of the The Flolo Corporation in Bensenville, Ill., agreed to send the remaining boxes to Johnna and Larry.

“Without his generous donation of shipping costs, we would be forced to take what little monetary donations that have been received and use it for shipping,” McPhee said. “I have been amazed at everyone’s continued goodwill.”

Allyson and Girl Scout Troop 466 now wants to focus on helping the Red Cross, and will post “Hats Off for Hurricane Help” flyers around Maple Park and Elburn. People interested in contributing to the Red Cross’ Sandy relief effort can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 for a $10 donation or visit www.redcross.org/charitable-donations.

McFarlin called the generosity of the Kaneland community “overwhelming,” and said Johnna would like to thank each and every person who has contributed.

“For me, this gathering of supplies reminds me why I live in this community,” McFarlin said.

Districts give school board members heartfelt thanks

KANELAND—Nov. 15, 2012, has been designated as School Board Members Day in Illinois, and Kaneland School District 302 is joining other districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their commitment and contributions to our public schools.

“School board members serve their communities without monetary compensation to make public education the best it can be for every child,” said Dr. Jeff Schuler, District 302 superintendent. “Their policies and oversight guide the district as tough decisions are made on complex educational and social issues that affect the entire community and the lives of individual students.”

As community trustees for the schools, school board members have oversight in District 302 for an annual budget of $59 million; 4,800 students in grades PK-12; more than 600 employees; and six campuses (buildings).

“Each year, the demands become greater for school board members to help lead our community’s schools as they prepare students to be productive citizens and the leaders in a new 21st century global economy,” Schuler said. “Without the efforts of school board members, local citizens would have less input into the way schools operate today. This is an excellent example of grassroots governance. The least that our community can do is to say thank you to these volunteers.”

The men and women serving the Kaneland School District are Cheryl Krauspe, Elmer Gramley, Ken Carter, Teresa Witt, Joe Oberweis, Gale Pavlak and Tony Valente.

“(School board members’) service ensures that decisions about local public schools are made locally by those most familiar with the needs of our community,” Schuler said.

KHS’ ‘You Can’t Take It With You’

KANELAND—Advance purchase tickets are now on sale for Kaneland High School’s performance of “You Can’t Take It With You,” a comedic play in three acts by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Performances will take place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16-17, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m., in the Kaneland High School Auditorium.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office prior to each performance, or purchased online through the Kaneland District Web Store, which is located on the district’s home page at www.kaneland.org. Select the High School and Theatre Department icons to place an order.

Advanced tickets will be held at Will Call on performance dates when the box office is open. The box office will be open one hour prior to show time.

Additional information is also available on the Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters Facebook page. For more information, email KHSTIX@gmail.com.

Scary good read


At John Stewart Elementary School, Mrs. Reilley’s fourth-grade class completed book reports on Bluestem Award winning books and created pumpkin characters to match their reports. On Oct. 30, the students read their reports and displayed their pumpkins. Zack Nemechek (above) answers questions about his report. Zack read the book “Kenny and the Dragon,” and constructed “Graham” the dragon for his display. Photo by John DiDonna

Photos: Honoring our Veterans

On Wednesday, Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School held a veterans celebration and flag raising. VFW veterans were honored and students gave short speeches about their appreciation of our war heroes. Photos by
John DiDonna


Elburn Scout Pack 107 helped raise the colors during the Veterans ceremony
on Wednesday at John Stewart elementary school.


The Mattina Brass Ensemble, a group of seventh and eighth grade brass players from Harter Middle School, played during the Veterans ceremony.



On Wednesday morning, Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School held a veterans celebration and flag raising. VFW veterans were honored, and students gave short speeches about their appreciation of our war heroes.

School Board approves 2013 tentative tax levy

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Monday voted 5-1 to approve the 2013 tentative tax levy.

Board member Tony Valente voted against the tentative levy.

The total tentative tax levy is $50,790,145, with an estimated total Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) of $754,311,757 ($745,311,757 in existing EAV and $9,200,000 in new construction). This estimate represents a 7 percent decrease from last year’s existing EAV of $797,495,995—and a 5.85 percent decrease from last year’s total EAV of $801,195,438—and also sets the limiting rate for 2012 at 5.3459 percent, revealing a total estimated operating tax extension of $40,324,572.

According to a document from Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, it has been the custom of the board to ensure that the School District receive the maximum property taxes allowable under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (or “tax cap”).

“With unstable federal and state tax revenue streams, our local tax levy is essential to our School District. Without it, the $6 million in cost reduction over the last three years would have been much higher,” Schuler said. “In a time of declining EAV, tax rates will increase to provide the dollars needed for the levy. However, the School District would not be able to provide the educational services our community expects without the levy.”

As for impact on Kaneland taxpayers, the approximate tax bill for the district in 2012 would be $4,443 (increase of $469 from 2011) for a home valued at $200,000, $6,664 (increase of $702) on a home valued at $300,000, $8,885 (increase of $936) on a home valued at $400,000, and $11,107 (increase of $1,170) on a home valued at $500,000.

The School Board is slated to review changes to the tentative tax levy and finalize fund distribution at the meeting on Monday, Nov. 26, and hold a hearing and final approval at the meeting on Monday, Dec. 10. Filing would then take place on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Kaneland collaborates with anti-bullying group

School Board discusses bullying prevention plan recommendations
by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—A month after a mass group of Kaneland parents attended a School Board meeting and forum to voice concerns with bullying issues in the district, School Board members on Monday discussed recommendations, made by members of the group Knights Against Bullying (KAB), for the district’s bullying prevention plan.

A district-distributed work update and response states that the School Board has set bullying prevention as a goal in the Superintendent Plan of Work, and that it is “under the strand of support systems and has a reporting date of April for the Board of Education.”

The plan also designates assignment of a prevention coordinator and gathering of a task force. Dr. Sarah Mumm, director of educational services K-5, and Erika Schlichter, director of educational services 6-12, will coordinate the work group revising the district’s current bullying prevention plan. Once revisions are finalized, focus will move to student services.

In terms of the task force, the work update and response guide states that the work group will consist of administrators, teachers, related service staff, transportation staff and a community member. The group will target goals identified this fall and discussed at the forum on Sept. 24, and “will receive feedback and input as appropriate from a variety of advisory groups,” such as the administrative team, Citizens Advisory Committee, student and community advisory groups.

Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said a prevention coordinator has yet to be identified, but Mumm and Schlichter will faciliate the task force’s work.

“The Board of Education and Administration remain committed to providing a safe and respectful school environment,” he said. “The discussion last night affirmed the plan and process to improve upon our current bullying prevention efforts.”

Schuler said that a heavy emphasis was placed on intervention strategies during the 2011-12 school year. This year, the task force will focus attention on prevention efforts, community and staff engagement, and K-12 alignment.

Kaneland administrators previously met with KAB members on Oct. 9. Schuler called the meeting “very productive.”

“(We discussed) current bullying prevention efforts and specific ways we could partner together in our efforts to address a topic that is clearly very important to all of us,” he said. “One area in particular that we spoke about was community engagement and how the KAB group can play an integral role in that area.”

A few members of KAB, including Leigh Ann Reusche, attended the meeting on Monday. Reusche read a prepared statement to the School Board and administration during public comment.

“Our main reason for addressing you tonight is to thank you and encourage you to continue to reach out to our Kaneland community as you move forward with the task force,” Reusche said. “Thank you for hearing our message and taking it seriously. It’s hard to hear about people’s anger and frustration. It took a lot of courage and strength for people to come forward with their own experiences. We are not always the most popular crowd in the room.”

Reusche said it also took a lot of courage for district administration to put together the task force, open the bullying discussion and talk about ways to improve the climate of Kaneland schools.

“It was the right thing to do, and we applaud you for taking this important first step,” she said.

Board member Tony Valente during the meeting said he is standing up for bullied students, and that he feels the perception out there is that Kaneland is doing nothing in regard to bullying prevention.

Valente also said he’s “holding people accountable” in regard to fixing bullying issues in the Kaneland District, directing his words toward members of administration in attendance.

This too, shall pass

Photo: Samantha Garcia was crowned 2012 KHS Homecoming Queen at the varsity football game on Oct. 12. Photo by Patti Wilk

KHS senior works her way back to normal after car accident
by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Something told Lisa DeFranze to turn around and go back home that night.

It was July 1, and she and her daughter, Samantha Garcia, had gone their separate ways that evening. Garcia, soon to become a senior at Kaneland High School, drove off in the opposite direction.

When DeFranze arrived back at home, she saw the police officers at her neighbor’s house. Samantha had been in a car accident and was in serious condition.

Sam’s car had gone off the road at the intersection of Route 30 and 47, rolling over six or seven times before she was ejected from the vehicle. She was taken to Rush-Copley and then air-lifted to Loyola Medical Center.

Samantha’s condition was very much touch and go that night. She had suffered severe head trauma, and the doctors had to insert a tube in her head to drain the build-up of fluid. She had fractured ribs, her right arm was crushed, and she had multiple pelvic fractures.

The doctor told DeFranze that Samantha would never walk or feed herself again.

But Samantha was 17 years old and otherwise healthy. Before the accident, she worked out a lot at the Vaughan Athletic Center, and she played third base on her high school softball team. She is also a very determined young lady.

DeFranze said the family decided to listen to Samantha’s neurosurgeon, who said kids are resilient, and everybody’s different.

Sam spent the first two weeks in the intensive care unit and two additional weeks in the hospital before transferring to Marionjoy Rehabilitation Center for two months of intensive rehab.

Less than four months later, Samantha is walking with assistance, her speech is coming back and she still has her sense of humor. Recently, she got dressed up and went to the KHS Homecoming dance for an hour, where she was chosen Homecoming Queen.

Samantha with some of her many post-auto accident supporters wearing their “This, too, shall pass, Samantha Garcia” T-shirts. Photo by Patti Wilk

“It was overwhelming,” she said. “I felt normal again.”

Samantha is doing her exercises every day, and she began working with a tutor this week. She said she is looking forward to playing softball and running again, and can’t wait to go back to school.

Samantha’s friends text her and come over to visit. They also organized a fundraising benefit for Samantha in September at the AmVets Post No. 106 in Aurora. About 350 people showed up. Her friend Baylee Lancaster said the fundraiser featured a bags tournament, a silent auction and 50/50 raffles, and they made T-shirts and bracelets to commemorate the benefit. They raised $22,000 to help Samantha’s family with her medical expenses.

The arm that was injured is her softball-throwing arm, so getting her strength back there is important to her. For now, she is just working on the basics, with speech, physical and occupational therapy.

DeFranze said Samantha just became weight-bearing as of last week. Her speech is also getting better, but her voice is soft.

“She gets very fatigued,” DeFranze said.

Several months before the accident, Sam got a tattoo on the top of her foot.

The butterfly was to remember her grandmother; perhaps the message was for Samantha, too. It says, “This, too, shall pass.”

Samantha will go back to school in January, and she expects to graduate with her class. DeFranze said that Samantha is impatient and wants so much to get back to normal again.

“She’s come a far way,” DeFranze said. “She doesn’t realize how far.”

Blackberry Creek runs for funds

Photo: The first Blackberry Creek Elementary Run for Funds took place on
Friday. Kids ran during the day and had a Family Fun Night during the evening. Here, a group of students runs around the school during the day. Photo by
Kimberly Anderson

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School’s inaugural Run for Funds event last Friday was a big success. The weather cooperated, students enjoyed some exercise, and the Blackberry Creek Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) netted $10,000.

According to Blackberry Creek gym teacher Jamie Holubecki, the event had two goals: to promote fitness and raise money for the school. Organized by the Blackberry Creek PTO and coordinated with the teachers, the Run for Funds event involved each grade spending an hour outside, walking (or running) laps around the school.

The children could give and/or collect donations from friends and family members, using a donation sheet that supported their activity. The PTO offered prizes for every level of donations collected, from $5 on up, including water bottles, T-shirts, pedometers and an iPod Touch.

“Staff has been so supportive,” PTO President Kathy Webster said on the day of the event. “It’s been a great team effort.”

Webster and other PTO members were at the school, cheering on the students alongside gym, music, art, literacy and computer teachers.

By the end of the hour for fifth-graders, student Max Drancik had completed 10 laps around the school. According to Webster, two laps around the school equals one mile, so Drancik had gone five miles.

Blythe Lundberg, also a fifth-grader, was on her 11th lap at the conclusion of the run. She raised $35, including a donation from her grandparents. She said she enjoyed the event.

“It gives us a chance to be more active and to raise money for the school,” she said.

The day ended with a celebration for the students and their families. The highlight of the evening was “Stuck for a Buck,” in which students were given strips of duct tape to stick Blackberry Creek music teacher Brandon Fox and computer teacher Tammy Metz to the wall.

“I told them they’ve given new meaning to ‘Support your PTO,’” Webster said.

According to Webster, the PTO had hoped to raise $3,000 after expenses. So when the tally came in at $10,000, she was thrilled. The money will be used to buy items for the school, such as sports and playground equipment, computer programs and other technology, curriculum requests from teachers, as well as to support field trips—all things that recent budget cuts had put in jeopardy.

“This is our first time,” Webster said. “We’re really excited. There are things we can buy that we didn’t think we’d be able to.”

Blackberry Creek Principal Andy Gibbs said he was pleased with how the event turned out.

“The money raised will benefit the kids academically and support activities, and they got some exercise,” he said. “It was a hit.”

National Family Partnership, DEA join forces for 2012 Red Ribbon Week

ILLINOIS—The National Family Partnership (NFP) recently announced the national contest for its 27th annual Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31.

Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. After the murder of a DEA agent in 1985, parents, youth and teachers in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the destruction caused by drugs. This year, families can get involved by entering a contest to promote awareness in their neighborhoods and win a drug prevention grant for their schools.

Families can enter Red Ribbon Week’s contest to win a $1,000 grant for their school and a new iPad for their home. To participate in the contest, families and students will decorate the front of their homes with this year’s message, “The best me is drug free.” Studies show that substance abuse risks lessen when parents talk to their children about the dangers of drugs, and that is the goal of this year’s contest: to encourage families to talk about prevention.

To win $1,000 for their K-12 school and a new iPad, students bring the Red Ribbon Week message home by working alongside their parents to decorate their front door, mailbox, fence, etc., with the “The best me is drug free” theme. Take a photo with the family and their Red Ribbon Week decoration, then upload to www.redribbon.org/contest or www.facebook.com/RedRibbonWeek by Friday, Nov. 2 (must be parents or over the age of 18 to upload photos).

Ask family and friends to vote for your entry at www.redribbon.org/vote between Nov. 2 and Nov. 16. Ten lucky winners from regions across the U.S. will win. Winners will be announced at events at their winning schools in December.

“Students will once again take Red Ribbon Week’s message of prevention home to their neighborhoods with this national contest,” said NFP Volunteer President Peggy Sapp. “By decorating their homes together with this year’s Red Ribbon theme, families carry the message to their communities.”

DEA Administrator Michele M Leonhart said the agency is excited to partner with the National Family Partnership on a contest that empowers communities to come together to talk about the drug problem.

“Red Ribbon Week is also when we honor DEA Special Agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena, who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe,” she said.

KHS class of 2002 reunion

KANELAND—A reunion for Kaneland High School’s class of 2002 will take place Saturday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. at Old Towne Pub, 40w290 LaFox Road in Wasco. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through ticketleap.com (search: Kaneland High School).

KHS teacher ‘flips’ the classroom

by Amanda Niemi
KANELAND—With public education in the spotlight recently regarding questions raised about standardized testing effectiveness, one Kaneland High School teacher is flipping the system on its head for her students.

KHS science teacher Sally Wilson implemented the first “flipped classroom” in the school. The traditional model is to go to class for lectures and homework outside of class, but the “flipped classroom” utilizes 10 to 15 minute pre-recorded videos, or podcasts, available online for students to watch on their own time. Classroom time is spent applying their knowledge and working on problems.

“If you compare the pre-test to post-test, we’re seeing higher scores from previous semesters.” Wilson said. “The kids like the fact that they have less homework, and surveys I conducted during the semester show positive feedback.”

This fall is the second semester under the new model. Wilson is currently the only teacher at KHS using a flipped classroom.

“It makes sense where kids are and where they use technology. I like the mastery aspect, where kids can move at their own pace. I can tell which students are doing well and put them in a tutoring role, or they can ask questions and we work on problems.”

There are of course challenges with using technology and the fact that some students may not have access to the internet at home. Wilson says she makes efforts to accommodate her students’ needs.

“There are a few students who have trouble with internet connection, but videos are up about a week in advance. I’ve opened up my room so we can watch it during late-start mornings.”

Sally said she found the idea on an online list serve started by educators Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergman, authors of the book “Flip Your Classroom: Talk to Every Student in Every Class Every Day.”

The small list serve Wilson joined a few years ago now has over 9,000 members.

“I emailed them, read about them, and eventually went out to see them at a conference in Colorado,” she said.

Wilson’s diligence in educating herself about the education of her students has impressed administrators at her school.

“They are 100 percent in support of it and have been since the beginning. I felt very lucky. The previous principal looked into it, and he found money where there wasn’t.” Wilson said. “The technology department has been great to work with. I have an assistant principal I’m working with this year. She’s been a great sounding board; if parents have questions, she’s always there to explain what’s going on.”

However, there are always those who are skeptical of change, especially when it comes to education methodology. Wilson noted that some parents were not completely on board with this new model.

“Last spring, there was a little bit of a pushback just because it wasn’t explained very well. We need to educate parents, as well. I researched the concept of video podcasting before I did this.” Wilson said. “Even I wasn’t 100 percent before the conference, and if I thought this wasn’t something that was going to benefit them, I would have never done it.”

Wilson believes this is a move forward for her students, and in the short time of utilizing a flipped classroom, she has seen increased benefits and positive reception from her class.

“Kids watch (the podcast) on their phone, iPad, computer; I think we’re moving in a direction where this learning is going to become more common,” Wilson said. “I think they’re used to the flexibility in their schedule, whereas 20 years ago we wouldn’t have been able to do this.”

For more information regarding flipped classrooms, visit www.flippedclassroom.org or contact Sally Wilson at (630) 365-5100, ext. 371.

Photo: The ol’ gang is back together


The Kaneland High School class of 1962 had its 50th class reunion on Sept. 22. Atendees were Peggy Kenyon Vaughan (front row, left to right), Shirley Rombough Perkins, Gloria Foster Perkins and Craig Swan; (second row) Marlene Hardt Zanardi, Doug Lakin and Juanita Hanson Neu; (third row) Bob Welter, Nick Smith, Kathy Holbert Whildin and Paul Erickson; (fourth row) Dave Larson, Donna Hinds Hunt, Les Petersen and Bill Horn; (fifth row) Dennis Erickson, Hop Patterson, Richard Fraatz and Larry Herra; (back row) Elma Wilkison Wilmath, Dave Anderson, Wally Phillips and George Karch. Courtesy Photo

Residents share their vision for Elburn

To provide input on the comprehensive plan, visit the Elburn village website, www.elburn.il.us, or the Town and Country Library, 320 E. North St., Elburn

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Approximately 30 community members and about 10 Kaneland High School students participated in an Elburn visioning session on Sept. 26 at Lions Park.

Village President Dave Anderson and Village Trustee Bill Grabarek attended the session, as well.

This was the latest in a number of sessions led by Image’s, Inc., a consultant hired by the village to lead participants in the updating of a comprehensive plan for Elburn 20 years into the future. Elburn’s comprehensive plan was last updated in 1990.

The village was awarded a grant from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to complete the plan.

The Village Board and Plan Commission participated in sessions held earlier this year. Kaneland High School students were invited to participate in their own sessions last spring and again two weeks ago. Getting the students involved was Anderson’s idea.

“This is going to be their community,” he said.

Calling their input “extremely impressive,” Anderson said that the students had some really great comments.

“They were very insightful and very mature,” he said.

Residents are still invited to provide their input in an online survey on the village website. They may also access the survey at the Town and Country Library. And although they won’t experience the dialog that took place at last week’s meeting, their input is still useful, Anderson said.

For purposes of feedback, the survey is divided into segments: land use and development, transportation and mobility, and facilities and amenities.

Anderson said the village hopes to have a draft of the plan by January, and will hold another community-wide meeting at that time. He said the goal is to have it completed and introduced to the public in February or early March.

McDole Elementary to celebrate International Walk to School Day

MONTGOMERY—Kaneland McDole Elementary School in Montgomery will join schools from around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Approximately 650 students from Kaneland McDole Elementary School will be walking to school along with parents, teachers and school administrators.

The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with kids, parents and school administrators walking from the corner of Gordon Road and Simpson Parkway. Walkers will arrive at the school at 9 a.m. All of the students will meet at the school and recite the Pledge of Allegiance together.

In 2011, International Walk to School Day was celebrated at more than 4,000 events at schools across the United States, along with children and adults in 40 countries around the world.

Walk to School Day events raise awareness of the need to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion and concern for the environment. The events build connections between families, schools and the broader community.

The event is being organized by the Kaneland McDole Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), and the staff at Kaneland McDole Elementary.

For additional local information, contact Robyn Lycan at (630) 701-5412. You can also visit www.walkbiketoschool.org, www.saferoutesinfo.org or www.iwalktoschool.org.

Filing period for School Board candidates

Kaneland—Nominating petition forms for the April 9, 2013, school board election in Kaneland Community Unit School District No. 302 are now available. Forms may be picked up from Beth Sterkel in the Superintendent’s office, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park, on any business day between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, is the first day that prospective candidates may circulate nominating petitions for signature (Election Code 10-4).

A school board candidate’s petition must be filed in the same office no earlier than 8 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 17, and no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 24. Papers will not be accepted after that date.

Candidates’ names will appear on the election ballot in the order in which their nominating papers are received in the secretary’s office. If two or more candidates file simultaneously on the first day (Dec. 17 at 8 a.m., or in the first mail received that day), a lottery will be conducted to determine which name is first on the ballot. The lottery will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 9 a.m. at the Milnamow Administrative Center in the Kaneland District offices. Attendance at the lottery is not mandatory; a representative may attend if desired.

Note that Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, is the last day for filing objections to a candidate’s nominating papers in the office of the board secretary, and the last day for a candidate to withdraw from nomination.

Nominating petitions must contain at least 50 signatures of registered voters in the district and must be securely bound together with pages numbered consecutively. Each page must carry the notarized signature of the petition circulator. A Statement of Candidacy must be turned in, along with a receipt from the county clerk showing that the candidate has filed a Statement of Economic Interest. The loyalty oath is optional.

Three seats on the seven-member Board of Education will be filled at the Monday, April 9, 2013 election. Candidates elected will serve four-year terms expiring in April 2017. To be eligible to serve, a School Board member must be, on the date of election, a United States citizen at least 18 years of age and a resident of Illinois and the Kaneland district for at least one (1) year preceding the election, a registered voter, not be a child sex offender, not hold another incompatible public office, not have a prohibited interest in any contract with the district, not be a school trustee and not hold certain types of prohibited state or federal employment.

For more information about the nature and duties of serving on a school board, contact the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB, 2921 Baker Drive, Springfield, Ill. 62703) for a free booklet, “Your School Board and You.” The booklet also is available at the association’s website, www.iasb.com/training/community_ resources.cfm.

Kids help out

Mia, Katherine, Sarah, Matthew, Josh and Ty (left to right) are students at Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School. They are helping to promote the annual John Stewart Fall and Winter Clothing and Toy Sale. The sale will take place at the school on Friday, Oct. 5, 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 6, 8 a.m. to noon. Photo by John DiDonna

Bullying issue takes center stage at Kaneland forum

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland parents, students, faculty, staff and administration on Monday gathered at Harter Middle School to participate in a forum to discuss the issue of bullying in the School District.

Intended as a walkthrough of District 302’s bullying and intervention plan, followed by a short Q&A session, the forum instead served as a vehicle for Kaneland parents to vent their frustration with bullying problems that persist in the district despite Kaneland’s attempts to define, monitor and ultimately discourage bullying behavior.

The forum began with a short presentation highlighting “key components” of Kaneland’s bullying plan, including a clear definition of “bullying”; a consistent framework for intervention and prevention that can be adjusted based on needs at the elementary, middle and high school levels; documentation; and a data system to target and identify problem behaviors and areas in each school.

The presentation then identified the three major types of bullying—physical, relational (emotional) and verbal—and the three degrees of bullying. Level one involves a bully who feels genuine guilt as a result of their behavior, and the bullying action isn’t repeated. Level two involves a bully who has malicious intent and justifies the behavior, and the bullying initially defined in level one persists. Level three involves an “extreme degree” of the bullying defined in the first two levels, and the aggressor can be manipulative, failing to take responsibility for their behavior.

During the attached Q&A session, a parent in the audience questioned the validity of Kaneland’s bullying data, when many cases go unreported.

“That’s probably a fair concern. I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t think we would fully know something that’s not reported unless it either, again, comes forward through a direct report of an incident, or it’s reflected in the data on the Illinois Youth Survey,” Schuler said.

According to the presentation, the Illinois Youth Survey is administered at the middle-school level to gather comprehensive student perspective and compare data with trends.

Andrea Stapleton of Montgomery said during the forum that she understands school bullying cannot change unless students speak up and also tell their parents to speak up.

“In terms of changing the school culture … there are a few students at the middle school who really perceive that this (bullying prevention) system, as great as it is theoretically, when it comes down to (students) coming in and reporting, they feel like the system sort of backs the bully,” she said.

Several of the parents nodded in agreement with Stapleton’s comment.

“Must be a common experience,” Stapleton said.

Harter Middle School Principal Bryan Zwemke said during the forum that the district’s goal is to get bullying behavior to completely stop.

“Whatever the case may be. Whatever the student’s story is … and there are two sides of it … we just want that behavior to stop,” he said. “And there may be times where we’re not able to give somebody complete closure, which is really difficult in this situation—for parents, for kids—not to have that closure.”

Zwemke explained Kaneland’s data and monitoring system, which is known as SWIS (school-wide information system). According to the district’s bully and intervention plan, SWIS is used by all six Kaneland buildings to track behavior concerns and infractions by time, location and student. Universal behavior teams monitor the data at regular meetings to target prevention efforts, intervention needs, and address problem areas and times.

The plan also emphasizes the importance of reporting bullying incidents, stating that there are multiple opportunities available for students to report directly to an adult, complete a bullying form or call a tip line.

The bullying discussion spilled into the public comment portion of the regular School Board meeting, as well. Elburn resident Leigh Ann Reusche, who has two children currently enrolled in District 302, read a letter on behalf of the group Knights Against Bullying, a self-described “group of concerned parents, teachers, former students, and community members coming together for the purpose of addressing the issue of bullying in our schools, and in our communities.”

“Our primary purpose in addressing the School Board tonight is to express our concern for the district’s response to bullying, and offer our suggestions and support to move forward together as a community,” Reusche said. “Many of our students have lived this bullying nightmare for weeks, months, even years. This is not an isolated incident or two. Bullying is the reality for students in our schools today.”

Reusche then asked the board to implement five recommendations: make bullying prevention a priority; assign a prevention coordinator; form a task force; develop or adopt a comprehensive, multi-faceted district-wide plan; and implement, maintain and evaluate the plan.

“The Bullying Task Force from the Illinois State Board of Education submits that complete school transformation cannot be accomplished without adequate commitment, time and resources. Securing such commitment requires extensive leadership and management skills from school administrators and school boards,” Reusche said. “We are asking you for your commitment. Let us all be a part of the solution. Policies, cameras, seating charts and forums alone are not going to change the climate of our schools.

“If you teach tolerance, people learn compassion, self-respect leads to self-discipline, assertiveness leads to self-confidence. Let there be no shame or fear for any student, parent, school-support staff, teacher and administrator to stand up and say we need help. We need your leadership and direction because things are out of control,” she said

During the forum, Reusche’s daughter Nadya, who graduated from Kaneland High School in 2008, read a poem she authored in response to the bullying her sisters, Laura and Anna, have endured as Kaneland students.

Elburn resident Darlyne Dwyer spoke during public comment. Her son, bullied constantly since the third grade, was assaulted by a group of students in a Harter Middle School bathroom in November 2010.

Darlyne said her family was dissatisfied with the manner in which the Harter Middle School president and district superintendent responded to the incident involving her son. The family then went to the authorities and filed a police report.

“The police investigated and brought charges against the boys,” Darlyne said during public comment. “Three boys were charged with a hate crime, four counts of aggravated battery, mob action, unlawful restraint, four counts of battery and two counts of assault—seven felonies and six misdemeanors (in total).”

One of the boys eventually pleaded guilty to mob action and aggravated battery. The other two pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated battery.

According to Darlyne, the Dwyer family last July met with Kaneland administration and a School Board member.

“We brought a consultant with us. Our goal was to find out if the district was taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of students. We wanted nothing more than to hear that they were taking things seriously and working to implement best practice in bullying prevention and intervention,” Darlyne read aloud during public comment. “We were dissatisfied to hear they were not implementing best practice.”

Darlyne’s son, who was an 8th-grader at the time of the attack, is no longer enrolled in the Kaneland School District.

Schuler addressed the audience at the conclusion of the forum, stating that no one is condoning issues of bullying and issues of harassment for kids in the Kaneland School District.

“We want the same thing. Whether we’re seeing exactly what it is that we want in the same way right now, that’s clearly something that I think we need to build a partnership to do,” he said. “But I am confident in the fact—whether it’s in this forum—we will only get there through conversation with the people that have concern about this topic. I believe with the utmost confidence that there’s not an administrator in this room who would not be interested (or) willing in having a conversation with you about your specific concern and trying to partner with you.”

Kaneland community comes together for teacher

Photo: Kaneland High School teacher Bridget Sweeney, her husband Matt, daughter Lilly and son Jack. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Kaneland High School teacher Bridget Sweeney had gotten used to dealing with cancer.

Twenty years ago, when she was a high school senior, she was diagnosed with a malignant soft tissue sarcoma in her right arm. At the time, the doctors removed her tumor and she underwent radiation treatments. A year later, the cancer came back and spread to her lungs. Again, she had surgery to remove it.

In September 2011, Sweeney had just given birth to her second child and was set to come back to work around Thanksgiving when the cancer came back for a third time in her arm. Although she has had several recurrences of the cancer and multiple arm and lung surgeries, this time her doctors suggested that she have her arm amputated.

She opted instead for an aggressive arm surgery in which the doctors removed her soft tissue and replaced it with rods and skin and tissue grafts from her leg.

She had another round of radiation treatments and additional surgeries to rebuild her arm, as well as therapy to strengthen her arm and leg.

“It’s been a watch game for 20 years,” Sweeney said. “You get used to it.”

What she wasn’t used to was the outpouring of love and support from the Kaneland High School community.

English teacher Brooke Simon, a friend of Sweeney’s who lives near her, said multiple people and organizations at the high school came together to help Sweeney and her family through her recovery.

Fellow teacher Jenny O’Hara created a website where people could sign up to cook meals, as well as donate time and money.

While Sweeney was in the hospital, her husband had to pay $20 for parking every time he came to visit her. With the mounting medical and hospital bills, child care for their baby and 5-year-old son Jack, as well as other expenses, the donations came in handy.

When she came home, it was still a long time before her arm would heal and regain its strength. She was unable to hold her three-month-old daughter Lilly, so cooking was definitely out of the question.

Simon would bring the meals to her a couple of times a week on her way home. Often, people would put together an entire meal, complete with a salad and side dishes. Simon would also often bring messages and cards with good wishes from faculty, students and parents. People gave gift cards for groceries, meals out at restaurants, and a gift certificate for Merry Maids to clean her house.

“She was dealing with all of this and trying to be a mom at the same time,” Simon said. “We could empathize. We did anything and everything that we could to help her.”

Graphics teacher Nikki Larson said the website made it easy to coordinate the meals and donations.

“You could see what others were making so you didn’t overlap with them,” she said.

Larson said that Sweeney is such a positive person, everyone wanted to pitch in to help.

“We were happy to provide small moments of some sort of normalcy for them,” Larson said.

Sweeney said that this was the first time that she has shared her battle with cancer so widely.

Not many of the students were initially aware of Sweeney’s situation. That changed when Kaneland baseball coach Brian Aversa asked the seniors on the team if they wanted to raise money to help Sweeney and her family.

Each year, the seniors decide which individual, charity or organization will receive the proceeds of a Senior Night game the team plays with Batavia High School at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva. Aversa said the students were overwhelmingly in favor of donating the money to Sweeney.

The team raised $5,000 for Sweeney during its “Pack the Park” game at the stadium in May.

Sweeney came back to Kaneland at the beginning of this school year. Simon said she is doing very well.

“It’s great to see her teaching again,” she said. “She’s a great teacher. The kids love her.”

Sweeney takes her cancer in stride. She said she knows that for some people, it’s a death sentence.

“For me, it’s a chronic illness,” she said. “It’s a condition that is manageable.”

She said that her cancer is not something that she dwells on. While it has been a long and challenging road, she said she has never allowed cancer to get in the way of her life.

“I have a loving husband, supportive family and two beautiful children,” she said. “I have a wonderful career teaching with a generous community of coworkers and amazing students,” she said.

She is still amazed by all that people have done for her and her family.

“It was a huge outpouring of support that was so unexpected and humbling,” she said. “I have never been in a community that has gone to such lengths to help. What was especially touching is that the students chose to offer their fundraising and giving opportunity to help us out.”

Kaneville passes Kaneland IGA

by David Maas
KANEVILLE—The Kaneville Village Board on Sept. 20 discussed the proposed intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the Kaneland School District.

“We got a call from Assistant Superintendent Julie-Ann Fuchs,” trustee Rick Peck said. “She asked us to review the IGA now that Maple Park had passed it.”

The IGA, which will be in effect for 10 years, institutes rate tables for impact fees from development on newly annexed land within the village.

“We don’t have any big development coming into the village right now,” trustee Paul Ross said. “But anything can happen in 10 years. It’s for the schools; we should do it.”

The board unanimously agreed to pass the IGA.

“Passing the IGA is the right thing to do,” trustee Paul Flamand said. “If we have any development, that’s money the schools get.”

With Kaneville passing the IGA, Sugar Grove is the only municipality to vote against the agreement.

“It puts us on a level playing field with the other municipalities in the School District,” Peck said.

Filing period for School Board candidates

Nominating petition forms for the April 9, 2013, school board election in Kaneland Community Unit School District No. 302 are now available. Forms may be picked from Beth Sterkel in the Superintendent’s office, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park, on any business day between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, is the first day that prospective candidates may circulate nominating petitions for signature (Election Code 10-4).

A school board candidate’s petition must be filed in the same office no earlier than 8 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 17, and no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 24. Papers will not be accepted after that date.

Candidates’ names will appear on the election ballot in the order in which their nominating papers are received in the secretary’s office. If two or more candidates file simultaneously on the first day (Dec. 17 at 8 a.m., or in the first mail received that day), a lottery will be conducted to determine which name is first on the ballot. The lottery will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 9 a.m. at the Milnamow Administrative Center in the Kaneland District offices Attendance at the lottery is not mandatory; a representative may attend if desired.

Note that Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, is the last day for filing objections to a candidate’s nominating papers in the office of the board secretary, and the last day for a candidate to withdraw from nomination.

Nominating petitions must contain at least 50 signatures of registered voters in the district and must be securely bound together with pages numbered consecutively. Each page must carry the notarized signature of the petition circulator. A Statement of Candidacy must be turned in, along with a receipt from the county clerk showing that the candidate has filed a Statement of Economic Interest. The loyalty oath is optional.

Three seats on the seven-member Board of Education will be filled at the Monday, April 9, 2013 election. Candidates elected will serve four-year terms expiring in April 2017. To be eligible to serve, a School Board member must be, on the date of election, a United States citizen at least 18 years of age and a resident of Illinois and the Kaneland district for at least one (1) year preceding the election, a registered voter, not be a child sex offender, not hold another incompatible public office, not have a prohibited interest in any contract with the district, not be a school trustee and not hold certain types of prohibited state or federal employment.

For more information about the nature and duties of serving on a school board, contact the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB, 2921 Baker Drive, Springfield, Ill. 62703) for a free booklet, “Your School Board and You.” The booklet also is available at the association’s website, www.iasb.com/training/community_resources.cfm.

Local students earn Presidential Scholarships to North Central College

NAPERVILLE, Ill.—Melissa Schmidt, an Elburn resident and Kaneland High School graduate majoring in elementary education, and Lauren Companiott, a Sugar Grove resident and Kaneland High School graduate majoring in psychology, recently earned Presidential Scholarships to North Central College, awarded to academically talented and highly motivated students.

The Presidential Scholarship is the top merit-based scholarship at North Central College and is offered to less than 15 percent of the incoming class. The scholarship is based on a combination of a student’s high school grade-point average from core academic classes and ACT/SAT test scores and is renewable for up to four years.

School Board approves IGA with Maple Park

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Sept. 10 voted 6-0 to approve an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Maple Park in regard to land-cash and school impact payments.

Trustee Ken Carter was absent from the meeting.

The vote came two-and-a-half months after the School Board approved an IGA with Elburn. According to a document from Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler, Kaneland and Elburn at that time agreed to approach other municipalities previously included in the IGA, with the intention to “again develop a common agreement among all municipalities served by the School District.”

Maple Park Village Board members on Sept. 4 approved the IGA with Kaneland.

“We are pleased with the IGA recently established with Maple Park. The conversation with Maple Park was very similar to the conversation with Elburn,” Schuler said. “The terms of the agreement had already been established, so there was not really a negotiation involved. Instead, Maple Park simply needed some time and information to determine if a common agreement served the interest of their community and the school district. We are pleased that they approved the agreement.

According to Schuler, Kaneland is currently in IGA talks with Cortland, Kaneville and Montgomery.

KHS invites fans to witness the ‘Knights Under the Lights’

Kaneland—The Kaneland High School fall sports teams will be introduced to their fans on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m.

The annual Knights Under the Lights event will be held at the various KHS athletic facilities. In addition to individual and team introductions, fans can watch the KHS volleyball, tennis, soccer and football teams scrimmage.

Sports Booster members will be on hand selling concessions, and while there is no admission to attend, the Boosters do ask for a donation to assist the athletics programs.