District 280 Board OKs MHS Homecoming plans


By BONNIE MORRIS

Editor

MENDOTA – Homecoming week activities will take place Sept. 27 through Oct. 2 at Mendota High School. Reporting at the Sept. 20 District 280 Board of Education meeting, Principal Denise Aughenbaugh said they are trying to keep homecoming as traditional as possible and still follow COVID protocols.

The homecoming parade will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1. Parade staging for floats will be at Sullivan’s Foods parking lot; staging will also be done at Strouss Park and the Mendota Pool parking lot. Aughenbaugh expressed her appreciation to Sullivan’s and the city for allowing the high school to use these areas. She emphasized that all high school students are to park at Strouss Park near the baseball fields and walk to Sullivan’s and she asked that students and parents carpool and drive carefully on Friday. 

Many home athletic events will take place during homecoming week and Aughenbaugh encouraged everyone to come and support the Trojans. The MHS football game will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1. The Homecoming Dance will be from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2. This year, the dance will be held outside in large, decorated tents that were purchased by Student Council. “We’re avoiding large indoor events,” Aughenbaugh said. “The parade is outdoors and the dance will be held outside in tents so it should be a safe environment for students to enjoy.”

Superintendent Jeff Prusator noted that the homecoming dance will be similar to last spring’s prom, which was also held outdoors. “It was more casual and not exactly the same as normal, but the kids can still have a good time,” he said.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

Professional Development Updates

Aughenbaugh reported on a staff in-service training held on Sept. 15 that addressed a college and career readiness software program called MajorClarity. With this software, students have their own individualized account and can take a college and career interest survey (which was completed on Sept. 17), and then build a four-year plan. The software has a resume builder, lessons, microcredentials, four-year course planning, and hours of career exploration materials. Students can also create their own online portfolio and upload proof of work.

  • Oct. 11 is the LaSalle County Teacher Institute. The ROE has scheduled online sessions that teachers can complete at their own pace. On that day, MHS will host a Marzano Resource Institute professional development for teachers on the topic “Motivating & Inspiring Students” with strategies to awaken the learner. “We are seeing increased apathy and lack of motivation among our students,” Aughenbaugh said. “It is a timely topic and much needed to better reach our students.”

Curriculum Committee

The Curriculum Committee held its first meeting this school year on Sept. 8. Aughenbaugh thanked committee members, Jim Sundberg, board representative; Carrie Escatel, parent representative; and student representatives, Abby Kunz and Faith Anderson, for their time and input.

Personnel

The board accepted the resignation of Robert Nunn as freshman boys’ basketball coach. Nunn will focus on coaching volleyball and head boys’ baseball.

Commendations

Aughenbaugh recognized the MHS Social Science Department, which has been and will continue to participate in additional professional development. The department is participating in the “Guardians of Democracy” Micro-Credential courses. The courses expand access to high-quality professional learning about teaching civics.

Upcoming

  • Friday, Oct. 8 and Monday, Oct. 11 - no school.
  • Saturday, Oct. 23 - 7 p.m. & Sunday, Oct. 24 - 2:30 p.m. MHS will present the fall play, “Little Women.”

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT

  • Approval was given to the FY22 budget following a budget hearing. Prusator noted that although the $8,785,180 bottom line is $1 million less than last year, it is not really a deficit. He explained that money was added to the FY21 budget to pay for last summer’s building projects (new roof, back parking lot and new corridor from the vocational building to the main building). “There’s no reason to panic,” he said. “Those were one time expenses.”
  • A 300-gallon boiler used to heat water for the locker rooms will be replaced by four 100-gallon tankless water heaters. Prusator said the large boiler is in the ceiling (original to the building) and it would be impossible to get another one that large back in the ceiling or to get the old one out. The recommendation from Walter Bros. and the manufacturer was to switch to the smaller tankless heaters at a cost of $21,000.
  • The IASB Board Policy updates were approved.
  • The board approved a transfer of $450,000 from the Working Cash Fund to the Capital Projects Fund to pay the balance of projects from last summer. They also approved a transfer of $300,000 from the Operations and Maintenance Fund to the Capital Projects Fund to pay for potential projects planned for next summer, such as the front parking lot.
  • SHIELD ILLINOIS testing has been implemented at MHS and Prusator said after a few bumps getting started, it has gone remarkably well and the students have been amazing. Of 1,966 tests given, 55 were rejected (because a student ate or drank something right before the test), and there were three positives (asymptomatic). “It has been very, very effective in finding those asymptomatic positives and has done exactly what you intended it to do,” he told the board.

MHS is also in the process of getting final approval for the high school be a community COVID testing site. Prusator said free COVID tests would be given from 9-11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays and be open to people without symptoms. “It would be a nice service for the community.”

The next regular board of education meeting will be held at the high school on Monday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.

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