Shepard speech team bonds in St. Louis

  • Written by By Bob McParland

  As a test of unity, travelingPge-9-2-col-shepard-st.-lShepard High School speech team members tunnel their way at the City Museum in St. Louis. Submitted photo. together would seem the ultimate trial for any high school team.
  Every waking minute requires conversation and activity — nonstop proximity and interaction that will make or break a group.
  Shepard High School speech coaches and students seem to have discovered some secret. They keep traveling together, this year with a recent trip to St. Louis.
  “The trip’s purpose is to have the team bond while experiencing theatre in a different city. The past two years, we’ve gone to Minneapolis, but this year, we wanted to try something different. I’m glad we went, as the kids had a blast,” said coach Jeff Vazzana.
  Students seemed to love it.
  “The trip was that perfect combination of exhaustion after a long and happy day and the little joy from realizing how cool people you never really talked to before really are,” senior Tasha Wierzal said.
  “It was certainly a super memorable trip, with the most notable aspect being the team bonding that occurred. New relationships were made and old ones were reinforced. We all feel more prepared and confident for the upcoming speech season,” said added senior Mike Peretz.
  The team left Shepard at 5 a.m. and drove to the Gateway Arch. The government shutdown prevented students from taking the elevator to the top, but they still walked the grounds.
  Then it was off to the City Museum.
  “It’s a 10-story piece of interactive artwork. In other words, it’s a 10-story jungle gym. The kids really had a lot of fun crawling through the tunnels that connected floor to ceiling,” Vazzana said.
  That first night, the group saw “Evita.” Despite the long day, “Not a single student fell asleep. All the way (to the hotel), they were singing on the bus, ‘Peron, Peron, Peron,’” Vazzana said of the characters in “Evita.”
  “I know that even though it might annoy other kids in the hallways, it’s nice to have new friends that I can just start belting out “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina!” when a week ago I only I had a vague idea of their names,” said Wierzal.
  Like their previous trips to Minneapolis, the Shepard speech team participated in an improvisational theater workshop on the second day. Even the trip to Six Flags included some theater: The Shepard group visited Fright Fest.
  The trip closed with a trip to the famed St. Louis Zoo.
  Whatever their destination in the upcoming speech season, the Shepard students already have arrived as a team.
  “Even kids I knew since freshmen year I feel like I left the trip knowing them better. It’s a great way to start the season and I think it got everyone more excited for the rest of the year,” Wierzal said.

Bulletin Board from 10-24-13

Chicago Ridge
  The Veterans Of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary No. 177 of Chicago Ridge is sponsoring a poster contest for first through third grade students and an essay contest for fourth and fifth graders.
  The fourth and fifth graders graders will write on the topic “How do our veterans serve America?” The essay should be no longer than 200 words and should be typed or neatly handwritten in black ink.
  The cover sheet for the essay should contain: student’s name, school, age of student and grade. The deadline is Nov. 6.
  The theme for the poster for first, second and third graders is “I am a proud American.”

  The poster should be no larger than 14 by 22 inches. Students may use any type coloring agents like crayons, paints, markers, etc.
  On the back of the poster please include: the student’s name, the age of the students and the grade.
  The deadline is Nov. 6. For more information on either contest, contact Renee at 630-452-9447.

Mount Assisi
  The Mount Assisi Booster Club presents its 10th annual Comedy Night Saturday, Nov. 2, at the school, 13860 Main St. in Lemont.
  Doors open 6:15 p.m., dinner 7:15 p.m., show 8:30 p.m.
  Featuring a night of comedy and dinner by Uncle Bub’s.
  Tickets cost $35 and include buffet dinner, beer, wine, pop, water, and comedy show quests. Must be 21 or over to attend.
  To register, contact Gail Andjulis This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call 224-9922.

Oak Lawn
  Oak Lawn Community High School performances of “Beauty and the Beast” will take place at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. A special children’s matinee will also take place at 2 p.m. Sunday where children will have the opportunity to be a part of the show and get their picture taken and receive autographs with Belle, the Beast, and the other enchanted objects. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through the ticket hotline at 424-5200 ext. 5920.

Central Junior High
  Evergreen Park and area veterans are invited to a Veterans Day Breakfast and Program at 8 a.m. Nov. 8 at Central Junior High School, 9400 S. Sawyer, in Evergreen Park.
  This event will be hosted by the students and faculty and is planned to honor the Evergreen Park and area residents who are U.S. Military Veterans for their service to our country during war or peacetime.
  Those who wish to attend must call the school office at 708-424-0148 by Nov. 1. Veterans are welcome to bring a guest. The building is handicap accessible, so if you have special needs, please let them know when you are making your reservations. Some parking is available on the school grounds or street in front of the school that day.


Moraine Valley
  The Ghost Hunting 101 noncredit course at Moraine Valley Community College takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday in Building T, on campus, 9000 W. College Pkwy. in Palos Hills. The fee is $25.
  The individuals who formed the Illinois Ghost Society will present basic ghost hunting skills as well as the terminology and scientific equipment used. Hear about the paranormal, and find out more about conducting an investigation and actual evidence collected during an investigation. The speakers also will talk about cleansing a property of negative energy.
  This class is for anyone interested in parapsychology and is intended to create awareness of the possibility of an afterlife.
  Register today in person at the Registration Office, located in S125 on campus, or by calling 708-974-2110 (TTY for the hearing impaired is 708-974-9556). Participants also can register online at by selecting Register for Noncredit Classes under Academic Focus and then Search, register and pay for noncredit classes.

Oak Lawn
  Oak Lawn Community High School Media Center will host its first Family Reading Night on from 7 to 8 p.m. Nov. 21. The event will be an evening book club for students, parents, staff, and the community. There will be discussion and activities based around the popular novel “The Fault in Our Stars” by award-winning author John Green. The book is an insightful, ambitious, and heartbreaking story which explores the funny/tragic business of being alive and in love. It’s a rare best seller aimed at teens and adults.
  Family Reading Night is in conjunction with Illinois Reads, a new statewide campaign to promote reading for all Illinois citizens created under the auspices of the Illinois Reading Council. Illinois Reads focuses on reading at school, as well as at home. Residents across the state from Rockford to Carbondale will be partaking in upcoming family literacy nights. The culmination event is a statewide celebration of literacy on the same evening as the book club.
  All book club participants must register at
  A limited number of event T-shirts will also be on sale that evening or beforehand for $10. Proceeds go to the Media Center activity account. Please contact media specialists Eileen Jones at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Jennifer Sidlow at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.
  Richards High School will host its 11th annual Southland Model Railroad Show on Saturday and Sunday.
  Richards, located at 10601 S. Central Avenue in Oak Lawn, will host the event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
  Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for senior citizens 65 and older, and free for children under age 12. Parking is free.
  The train show will feature the largest HO layout of any model show in the Chicago area. The Richards event also includes many other model train displays and operating layouts, Lego trains, a riding train for children, train races for children, and a children’s activities area.
  Last year, 23 area model railroad clubs displayed layouts.
  For more information, visit or contact Richards band director Charles Martin at 708-499-2550, ext. 5096.

St. Xavier University
  Saint Xavier University’s School of Nursing will launch of its new 15-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Option.
  Starting in May 2014, the A-BSN will allow students with baccalaureate degrees to move through the pre-licensure program in a reduced time-frame. Students will begin nursing coursework each May and complete the fulltime program in 15 months. Pre-requisite courses, if needed, may be completed in advance at SXU prior to the May start.
  Qualified applicants for the A-BSN option must possess an earned baccalaureate degree from a nationally accredited institution of higher learning with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, which includes all pre-requisite coursework.
  More information about the Accelerated BSN program is available by visiting, keyword: nursing could not get this to work. For more information about the nursing program or to schedule a visit, please contact the Office of Admission at 800-462-9288 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Queen of Peace freshmen tour Chicago


The Queen of Peace Arts without Borders program takes each class year on a specific trip and this year it took the school’s freshmen on the Architectural Foundation Chicago River Tour.
  Chicago Architectural Foundation certified volunteer tour guides — called docents — interpreted more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River, revealing how the city grew from a small back-country outpost into one of the world’s most important crossroads in less than 100 years.
  Following the tour they visited the sculptures at Millennium Park.

Submitted photo.

D230 Relay for Life one of the biggest in nation

  • Written by By Carla Erdey

  The 2013 High Schoolpage-9-2-col-D230-relayAccepting the District 230 Relay for Life award for the largest high school event in the country are Justin McCurdy (Sandburg), Julie Zielinski (Stagg), Nora Chlum (Andrew), teacher Jake Kruchten (Sandburg) and Maureen Strode (Sandburg). Submitted photo. District 230 Relay For Life was recognized for being the most successful and largest high school Relay in the nation. Raising more than $350,000 last year, it was only surpassed by Virginia Tech University for youth relays in the country.
  Representing the District 230 All-Youth Relay for Life team at the Illinois Relay For Life Leadership Conference at Concordia University were students Justin McCurdy from Sandburg, Julie Zielinski from Stagg, Nora Chlum from Andrew, Maureen Strode from Sandburg and teacher Jake Kruchten from Sandburg.
  In addition to the current students leaders’ participation at the conference, the success of the District 230 Relay For Life was apparent. The two individuals who organized the conference were Kyle Polk and Zach Doman, 2011 graduates of Sandburg and Andrew.
  There were three guest speakers including retired Sandburg Principal Debbie Boniface, Sandburg student Maureen Strode and an American Cancer Society representative.
  Also, two of the three breakout sessions were led by Sandburg students Justin McCurdy and Barrie Chileen.
  Throughout the conference, District 230 students gave tips and advice to representatives from top-notch universities such as Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, DePaul University and the University of Chicago on how to make their Relay For Life events successful.
  “The District 230 Relay For Life has become world-renown due to the success, dedication and ingenuity of the students and staff over the past 17 years,” said Kruchten. “In that time, District 230’s Relay has raised more than $3.35 million for cancer research and support for those undergoing treatment.”

Spuds and thuds are a part of STEM learning at Shepard

  • Written by By Bob McParland

  When Brian Sievers hit the launch trigger, Page-10-3-col-spudsShepard High School physics teacher Brian Sievers readies one of his homemade potato launchers. Sievers fired potatoes over the softball field to illustrate the various concepts of projectile motion. Submitted photo.his homemade cannon emulated the acoustics of the real thing. The echoes reverberated off the northern face of Shepard High School, returned off surrounding homes, and back.
  Students squinted in the morning sun to catch a glimpse of the potato fired from the launcher. The spud landed with a thud, and everyone smiled and clapped.
  Beyond the visual and audio candy of launching potato-mortars, the activity taught physics concepts and, ideally, opened a few students’ minds to the idea of STEM careers.

  “The demonstration was an exciting way to explore projectile motion,” Sievers said.
  Students watched, share conversations, answer Sievers’ questions, and eventually applauded as the potatoes flew over the softball dugouts.
  “In class it is often difficult to have students observe something like the time a projectile is in the air. With our projectile traveling a couple of hundred feet, it was easier for them to see the difference in time of flight for various angles.”

  Launching from a low angle, students could see the potato travel away but hit the ground quickly. When Sievers raised the angle of the cannon, the class could see that the potato stayed in the air longer.
  “While observing the increase in flight time for an increase in launch angle, students also observed that the reverse was true to the horizontal distance traveled by the potato, or the range. If we tried to use small equipment in class they would not have time to make these observations,” he said.
  Interesting, unconventional experiences like these inspire curiosity and, hopefully, get kids to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
  In recent years, the number of students in the U.S. earning college degrees in STEM areas has decreased. Many who initially declare a major in STEM areas change their course of study once they realize the work involved.
  “Students love to build things and see how they behave. They have an innate curiosity. The potato cannons demonstrate that you can build things to explore science,” Sievers said.
  Such experiences spark creativity in building and testing designs.
  “Then they can form solid conclusions based upon results. This is the core of all science and research. It is a way to develop thinkers, and that is what the American education system must do to regain its prominence in the world,” Sievers said.