MENDOTA – Yes, there will be a prom this year at Mendota High School. Although it will not be a traditional prom, the District 280 Board of Education approved a proposal from the Prom Committee to plan for an altered version of the event that follows all COVID guidelines for safety.
Scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 22, some of the tentative ideas for this year’s MHS prom were presented at the April 19 Board of Education meeting. For the processional, students would enter through the auditorium doors and proceed down the hall to the back parking lot where the prom would take place. There would be food trucks with tickets sold prior to the event to purchase food so money would not have to be exchanged during prom; music provided by a DJ; various games such as bags and yard darts; and an outdoor movie.
Although there will not be a post-prom this year, Principal Denise Aughenbaugh noted that the Post-Prom Committee will help with the prom.
Board president Jim Lauer said although it is disappointing to not have a typical prom, this will at least be a chance for students to be together and have something special to do. “It may be something that’s even more memorable – it’s just what we’re dealing with at this time in history,” he added.
For the next three years, dues will be collected for membership in the IHSA. Principal Denise Aughenbaugh explained that although the IHSA does not usually charge for membership, they lost most of their revenue last year due to cancellation of state athletic tournaments. To make up the loss, graduated dues of $1,250 the first year, $625 the second year and $407 the third year will be required from MHS. (The amounts vary based on school size.) After three years if sports are able to resume a normal schedule, Aughenbaugh said the IHSA expects to be caught up on revenue and dues will not be collected.
The board approved moving ahead with plans for summer school at MHS. Aughenbaugh said they hope to offer Credit Retrieval, Summer Bridges for incoming freshmen, Driver Education, and Dual Credit Summer Speech with IVCC. Once final plans are announced in early May, students will be able to sign up.
The last day of school for seniors will be Friday, May 21 and graduation for the Class of 2021 is scheduled for Saturday, May 29. Further details on graduation will be announced later.
Aughenbaugh introduced MHS senior Jack Beetz, who is the State FFA Proficiency winner in Diversified Crop Production-Placement. Beetz was previously chosen as the Chapter, Section 7 and District 2 winner, which enabled him to advance to state. He is now eligible to compete in the National FFA Awards Selection process in July. “We are extremely proud of Jack and how he represented MHS,” Aughenbaugh said.
Aughenbaugh congratulated 13 MHS students who have been named as Illinois State Scholars. They include Amanda Barrett, Amellia Bromenschenkel, Daisy Contreras, Mary DeFore, Samuel Lawrence, Grace Leifheit, Lily Linden, Twila Martinson, Ella Massey, Madi Mikolasek, Jenna O’Donnell, Madison Pappas and Rosevelia Rocha.
Illinois State Scholars are recognized for academic achievement based on their sixth semester class rank and their SAT exams.
Superintendent Jeff Prusator said MHS expects to receive almost $1.5 million in payments from the federal government due to loss of learning during the pandemic. The funds, which will be issued in three payments, are to be used in ways that best help all students make up for the learning loss they experienced. Although there is flexibility in how most of the money is used, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has suggested ideas for the best use of the money.
Prusator said MHS currently has a committee meeting to discuss ideas for use of the money and their recommendations will be presented to the board. “All students had learning loss and there are a lot of different variables to impact the largest number of kids,” he said. “The main thing they suggest is that schools avoid hiring additional staff because these funds are temporary revenue. But we do have quite a bit of flexibility with most of the money.”
Prusator also noted that he welcomes input from parents and community members on how to best use the funds.
The board approved waiving fees for the coming school year. After the issue was tabled last month, Prusator said he looked at the numbers and found that MHS would receive a total of about $50,000 in student fees. He explained that with the extra money coming from the federal government, the high school does not really need the money from fees at this time and it would be more helpful to families if it were waived for another year.
The next regular board of education meeting will be held at the high school on Monday, May 17 at 6 p.m.