Preliminary planning begins for new Amboy Junior High


AMBOY – Amboy will be able to build a new junior high school, provided the unofficial election results hold up over the next six weeks. Superintendent Joshua Nichols said until the election is certified, which could take until Nov. 27, and then a 30-day petition period is over, the district is limited in what it can do.

Reporting at the Nov. 13 Board of Education meeting, Nichols explained that some preliminary planning and scheduling can begin along with the process of hiring an architect - but not much else.

Nichols then discussed an inquiry he received from Chief Bryant of the Amboy Fire Department regarding the possibility of donating or selling the property where the current junior high building is located to the fire department so they can build a new fire station. The school district would still retain ownership of the bus garage, football field and site where the buses are stored.

Nichols said this piece of property would potentially make the fire department eligible for a federal grant. Because the grant has specific requirements, it has been difficult to find a location in Amboy that meets those needs.

Although the board cannot take any definite steps until the election is final, board president Nicole Jones thanked the administration and 272 KIDS for their help in getting the referendum passed. “We could not have done this without those two groups,” she said. “We did a lot of hard work but unfortunately, the hardest work is ahead of us.”

OPEN FORUM

AJHS Speech Team

Two members of the AJHS Speech Team, Natalie Pratt and Kaylee Scanland, presented their award-winning performances to the board. They were accompanied by speech team coordinator/coach Yvonne Vicks, who said all of the AJHS students who participated in the State Speech Competition received first place ratings. In addition, out of hundreds of students who take part in the competition, only 11 can get “Judges Choice” and Amboy received two of those awards.

AHS Outdoor Club

AHS social studies teacher Danielle Benesh gave an update on the recently formed Outdoor Club. She was accompanied by several club members. The group has hiked numerous times including trips to Franklin Creek, Lowden, Castle Rock, White Pines and Peoria, where they also watched the cross country team run. In addition, they went to Six Flags and to an indoor rock climbing facility in Glendale Heights. “That was a really big hit so we’re going there again,” Benesh said.

Attendance at club meetings has been from 20-25 students with 15-18 going on the trips, which Benesh felt was pretty successful. She also noted that students in fall sports were not able to join because of scheduling, but hope to go on trips in the spring. “The kids really like this so we appreciate you guys approving us to have our club,” she said. 

PRINCIPALS’ REPORTS

Amboy High SchoolPrincipal Janet Crownhart congratulated ClaytonKemp, who is the November Student of the Month.

Curriculum and School Improvement

* The Building Leadership & Clippers, Set Sail! Teams met on Nov. 6. Building Leadership discussed students of concern and last year’s SAT data. Clipper’s, Set Sail! focused on students of concern and semesterincentives.

* School Improvement days were held Oct. 29 and Nov. 12. District staff participated in an armed intruder drill at the highschool.

* AveryShaw,AbrilVazquezTapiaandTylerStewartattendedtheNorthwestDistrictStudentCouncil Fall Workshop on Oct.25.

* Mrs. Crownhart attended “PSAT/SAT Dive into Data” online on Oct.25.

* Mr.BrowneandMs.Beneshtook37studentstotheFieldMuseumin Chicago onOct.31.

* Mrs.Bulferattended“BestLegalPracticesforDeans”inSpringfieldonNov.2.

* Mr.Escateltook14studentstotheNationalMuseumofMexicanArtonNov.2.

* Mr. Browne took 15 students to the College of Engineering at NIU on Nov.6.

* Mr.SchwambergerandMrs.CrownhartattendedtheIHSAtownhallmeetingonNov.13 at Bureau Valley HighSchool.

School Activities

* Mrs.HemmenandMs.Roseaccompanied20freshmen during a visittoRockValleyCommunityCollegeonOct. 26.

* Thirteen students attended the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis Oct.24-26.

* Spanish Honor Society hosted a blood drive on Nov.9 with 37 units collected.

* On Nov. 12, AHS hosted the district-wide Veteran’s DayAssembly.

* MargaretVaessenandThomasStambergerparticipatedinthestatecrosscountrymeeton Nov.2.

* Boys basketball, girls basketballand wrestling have started.

Building Activities

* The high school had its second firedrill on Oct. 16.

* Depot Days Car Show committee donated $1,500 to the Ag Department. The money will be used to buy new welders for the shop; their goal is to purchase eight new welders byJanuary.

Principal Andrew Full, Amboy Junior High

Curriculum and School Improvement

* The Oct. 29 School Improvement Day covered the school’s crisis plan and active shooter drills were held. Full thanked Chief Blake and the Amboy Police Department for their help that day.

* Mr. Spangler wrote a grant that was approved for purchase of microphones that can be used for speech totext.

* Student Assistant Team meetings were held for each gradelevel on Oct. 30.

* The Art Grant Committee is meeting monthly to discuss plans. The grant will cover the cost of a part time teacher next year for elementary and junior high students. Nichols explained that the committee was formed because the grant required having a lesson plan in place.

PBIS

* At the Oct. 29 PBIS SIP Assembly, student awards were presented to Students of the Month, Character Trait of the Month (courage), volleyball pins, 1stquarter honor roll, and faculty/staff recognition. The band performed the National Anthem and School Fight Song while the cheerleaders did acheer.

School Activities

* Parent/Teacher Conferences were held Oct. 18 and 19. Attendance was about 78 percent over the twodays, which Full said is about average.

* A Boys Basketball Tournament was held on Nov. 3 for 7thand 8thgrade boys with teams from LaMoille, Serena andAFC. Amboy 7thgrade finished 2ndand 8thgrade finished3rd.

* AJHS participated in the B.V. Shootout. The 7thgrade boys finished 2ndand 8thgrade finished3rd.

* Full said 145 students qualified for the 1stquarter honor roll, about 66 percent of theschool.

* The AJHS Speech Team traveled to Kewanee on Nov. 2 to participate in the State Speech Competition. Full congratulated all of the team members, Kelton Schwamberger, Emma Dinges, Kaylee Scanland and Natalie Pratt, who all placed first at the competition.

Principal Joyce Schamberger, Central Elementary & Pre-K

PBIS

* An all school assembly took place Nov. 12 at Central School. Students of the Week were recognizedand givencertificates.

School Improvement

* Teachers worked with Angie Garza to review their RtI (Response to Intervention) plans. Schamberger said RtI has been in place at Central since 2008, so teachers just needed to make revisions.

* A group of teachers went to the ROE on Nov. 14 for training on making updates to RtI. Another group went to ROE on Nov. 16 to participate in a School Improvement Plan training with the AJHS team.

Curriculum

* Central School staff along with deputies from the Lee County Sheriff’s Department conducted a “dangerous intruder” drill on Nov. 13. Some videos were shown including one that was based on the book, “I’m Not Scared, I’m Prepared.” Lt. Atwell from the Lee County Sheriff’s Department and members of the Amboy Police Department, Chief Blake, Officer Smith and Officer Lester, also helped. Schamberger said they met with students by grade level, watched the videos and discussed where the safe zones were. Then, the officers went back into the classrooms and talked about different scenarios.

Schamberger said these drills will continue and then asked board members who have children in elementary school to see what their children thought of the drill. When asked her opinion, Schamberger said she thought the drill went very well but noted that some teachers were nervous about it. “It’s unsettling, that’s the only word I can come up with,” she commented. “We tried to make it as matter-of-fact - this is a drill, just like a fire drill, severe weather drill or bus evacuation drill and you need to follow the directions of the adult.”

Nichols, who also attended the drill, agreed that it went very well. “The students were good listeners and asked very good questions,” he said. “Like a fire drill, we’ll do this a couple times a year. Sadly, it’s the norm now but these are skills everyone needs to know.”

School Activities

* All students attended the Veteran’s Day Program on Nov. 12.Guests included veterans from the Amboy Nursing Home, and Amboy American Legion Post 453 participated by posting the colors. The President’s Veterans Day Proclamation was read aloud, the district band played the National Anthem, the district chorus sang a song and Central students sang a patriotic song. Schamberger thanked the high school PE classes for setting up chairs in the gym.

* The second grade won best attendance for October with 98.6 percent. They will receive a snack paid for by CentralPTC.

* OnNov.15 Central School students were able toview the fall play, “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

OTHER BUSINESS

* Nichols said the fire doors at the junior high that “mysteriously” quit working have now mysteriously started working again. Despite everyone’s efforts to track down the problem, they could not find a tangible reason why the doors stopped working. “I wish I could tell you what it was but there is a lot of wire, some of it is redundant and not connected to anything, but there’s no real explanation,” he said.

*The board approved the district’s tentative tax levy, following a presentation given by Nichols. A tax levy hearing was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 13 at Amboy High School.

* A snow removal bid from James Bulfer/OPS of Ohio was approved.

*The board approved a payment of $4,851 to Whiteside Area Career Center as District 272’s share of the cost to replace a cracked boiler. Nichols explained that as a member of the vocational center, District 272 is responsible to help maintain that facility. The total cost of the boiler is $88,530. Amboy’s portion will come from the Health Life Safety Fund.

* Board member Carol Schnaiter asked for input from the board regarding the issue of teachers carrying weapons at school. As the board’s delegate to the Illinois School Board Association, Schnaiter explained that she will have to vote on three separate resolutions concerning the matter.

“When I was a staff member, I would not want to be responsible for having a weapon in my classroom with the chance that if something does go wrong, how long is it going to take me to get my weapon out - and there are just so many other things that could happen,” she explained.

Even if the resolution passed, it would have to be approved by the state legislature and then it would be up to each school board to make their own decision on whether teachers should be armed. “But it’s going to be a heated discussion,” she commented. “You’ll have some larger school districts who say they need this and smaller school districts who will fight it. I just wanted to know if you trust my opinion.”

After further discussion, the board agreed with Schnaiter.

PERSONNEL

Following closed session, the board approved Taylor Hicks as a paraprofessional at Central School, effective Nov. 5, and Peyton Glawe as freshman boys basketball coach for the current school year.They also accepted the resignation of Marybeth Ramirez as assistant head cook at Amboy Junior High as of Nov. 9.

The next regular meeting and a tax levy hearing will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13 at Amboy High School.


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