Tag Archives: Alyssa Lech

Harter Middle School students qualify for Illinois Junior Academy of Science Fair

DEKALB—Students at Kaneland Harter Middle School are solving problems, thinking independently and raising the bar for future science classes.

On Feb. 13, Kaneland eighth-graders gathered to showcase their science projects at the second annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Science Fair. Out of the 343 student projects, 68 were selected to compete in the school science exposition. Fifty judges consisting of community members, Kaneland administrators and School Board members, and parents rated the inquiry-based projects according to several criteria developed by professionals affiliated with the Illinois Junior Academy of Science. Of the 68 local exhibitors, 37 will advance to the regional competition of the Illinois Junior Academy of Science (IJAS) Fair at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in March.

Students developed their own projects, completed independent research, performed various experiments, analyzed data and formed conclusions based on their findings. The creative, insightful projects ranged from an analysis of local water quality to developing biodiesel fuels to detecting background radiation. “It’s up to each student to design a unique project,” said Ryan Wlodek, teacher and science fair coordinator

“The unit of study prepares students to problem solve, think critically, and apply their knowledge to new situations. It’s teaches kids how to think,” Wlodek said. “Teaching kids content is important; however, it is also necessary to teach critical thinking skills to prepare them for future careers that do not exist and problems that have yet to be encountered.”

In some cases, students proved their hypotheses correct, but in others they were shown to be false. In every instance, student exhibitors demonstrated a deep understanding of their research and easily communicated their findings to judges and spectators. As one student put it, “I definitely aimed as high as I could. I enjoy physics and chemistry and found this project to be fun and exciting.”

On March 22, the excitement will continue as the following Kaneland students attend the IJAS Regional Science Fair at NIU with other students in the region: Alex Montalbano, Kaitlyn Becker, Ian Stoll, Rachel Wozniak, Robbie Dudzinski, Jessica Tiv, Jessica Shell, Zach Farris, Bella Vargas, Ysabelle Simbol, Amanda Eckstrom, Jeff Wachter, Autumn Georgi, Katie Moore, Ava Mandele, Brennan Hare, Olivia Goodenough, Drew Gould, Tim Rosko, Lexi Abruzzo, Sam Webster, Trevor Cannon, Bryce Burton, Hunter Smith, Carson Wallace, Bridget McCracken, Alyssa Lech, Gabrielle Faletto, Peyton Heiser, Trevor Jones, Nicholas Rauwolf, Brian Bartholomew, Ben Purcell, Grant Schaaf, Robert Berrios, Sandra Gale and Tiffany Castracion.

Kaneland Youth Competitive Cheer team concludes 1st season


Photo: The Kaneland Youth Competitive Cheer team gather after a first-place finish earlier in their season. The team concluded the year on Nov. 10. This year’s team included Asst. Coach Val Massa (back, left to right), Gianna Carbonara, Sarah Ball, Emma Zukauski, Brooke Bastone, Anna Massa, Alyssa Lech and Asst. Coach Meredith Haring; Emily Savarese (front), Kristin Layne, Kailey Krajewski, Niki Kull, (directly behind Niki) Regan Franzen, Maddy Wheatley, Anna Massa and Julianna Klecka. Not pictured are team alternate Brooke Johnson, Asst. Coach Megan Mendoza, Asst. Coach Theresa Miller and Coach Andrea Williams. Courtesy Photo

Kaneland—The Kaneland Youth Competitive Cheer team concluded its first season on Nov. 10 with a third-place finish at the Conant Spirit Challenge.

The team was organized by Andrea Williams last spring. After working with the KYBL cheerleading program for the past few season, Williams said she saw a desire for something more from the girls as they were reaching middle school. A former Kaneland cheerleader herself, Williams said there is currently no school-sponsored cheerleading program at the middle school level.

Even though many of the girls participate in the cheer programs offered by both KYFL and KYBL, the competitive arena is entirely different. Williams said the hope is that this competitive program will teach participants the skills they need and become a feeder program for the Kaneland High School team. Although there are other competitive teams in the area, high cost can be a factor for some families. Williams said she did her best to keep costs at a manageable level for participants, but noted that community support is what keeps programs like this running.

This season, the team consisted of 14 members and one team alternate between sixth and eighth grade. They practiced over the summer to learn a routine approximately 3 minutes in length including dance, cheer, tumbling and advanced stunting skills. Williams said she could not have gotten through the season without the help of her assistant coaches—Emily Haring, Meredith Haring, Valerie Massa, Megan Mendoza and Theresa Miller.

The Knights participated in three area competitions and earned first-, second-, and third-place finishes, respectively. The final competition on Nov. 10 was a qualifying event for the IRCA (Illinois Recreational Cheer Association) state competition in December. Williams said she was proud of the third-place finish—noting that the girls missed a state bid by 1.6 points.

You can find out more information about KYBL including the competitive cheer program and fundraising efforts by visiting their website at: www.kanelandcheer.org.