Category Archives: News

Williams Elementary School library receives grant from author James Patterson

By Kambelle Ashmore

Williams Elementary School received a grant of $3,000 from the renowned author, James Patterson. These funds will help their library in many ways such as replacing outmoded materials.
“We need it for three specific things. One is we need it to replace out of date non-fiction books, the second is to replace VHS tapes with their DVD version[s], and the third is to provide food for a family event,” Williams Librarian Peggy Burton said.

The grant they received also will help tremendously with improving their library.

“It is now being used as a new part of curriculum for grades four and five and some of it is [for] e-books,” Williams Elementary Principal Kris Maleske said.

Williams’ fifth-grade teacher Debra Livingston was the one who found out about the grant and filled out the application.

“The process for filling out the grant application was very easy! I went online to the Scholastic website and linked up the application. In the grant, I indicated how we would use the grant money, the amount we were interested in and a short statement on how we would use the funds to promote a love of books,” Livingston said.

Livingston found the grant through the yearly catalog the school receives from the Scholastic Book Club. In the catalog, there was a flyer with information regarding the grant; Livingston presented it to Burton, and they talked about how the school could use the grant in their library. Once they figured it out, they informed Principal Maleske about the grant and asked if they had his backing in their decision.

“They sent an email sharing information that they were looking at the grant and wanted to know if they had my support,” Maleske said.

The process of getting the grant included many steps, and for a while a select few had to keep it a secret that they had received it.

“We found out when school first began that we had gotten the grant, but we couldn’t tell anyone until November or December,” Burton said.

According to Livingston, Scholastic had to pool together a group of potential receivers of the grant. Then they had to send that list to James Patterson, and he made the final decision on which schools received the grant.

“Scholastic received nearly 40,000 applications for the grant. In the end, 400 schools were selected, and we were one of them,” Livingston said.

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Illinois schools make switch from ACT to SAT

By Sophie Collings

High schools across the State of Illinois are transitioning their pre-college standardized testing from the ACT to the new SAT. The ACT will still be offered at various locations, but for schools such as Mattoon High School, the ACT will not be offered free to all students, and the new SAT will take its place.

“The new SAT is not only replacing the PARCC exam in Illinois, but also the old SAT nationwide. The ACT will still be offered on specific weekends at local test sites in the interim as an option during the first few years of transition,” MHS counselor Aaron Hale said. “The new SAT has been updated to reach the needs of traditional high school students, rather than the past more elitist perception of the old SAT. The new SAT will focus on Reading, Writing and Language, Math and an essay component.”

Aside from the benefits from the test itself, the new SAT will help students financially as well. Prior to the change, students wanting to take the SAT were required to pay at the normal testing price; however, the SAT cost is being eliminated, and the price of the ACT will be reduced for MHS students.

“Mattoon High School is not only offering the new SAT free of charge for all juniors on April 5, but also extending the optional opportunity for any student to take the ACT for a minimal cost on April 8. Having both opportunities allows students to submit one or both exam results to the post-secondary institution of their choice. From what the counseling staff has seen is anticipation for April 5, the transition looks to be advantageous for our students,” Hale said.

The change will not only affect students, but teachers alike. Teachers have prepared students for the ACT for many years, but will now need to shift their focus to SAT preparation because of the differences between the two tests.

“Mattoon High School instructors are already preparing students in the classroom through practice test questions and curriculum that coincides with SAT content expectations,” Hale said. “School counselors are preparing outside of the classroom through the implementation of the optional PSAT exam in fall and aiding students in registering with College Board’s partnering institution, Kahn Academy, which allows a multitude of different practice exams and study tips, free of charge. At this time, Mattoon High School is also allowing the opportunity for ACT preparation through the in-school practice ACT exams in the fall and spring.”

MHS math teacher Liz Schumacher has been implementing preparation techniques since the beginning of the second semester, ensuring that her students are exposed to SAT questions before taking the test.

“I pull three questions per day from our practice SAT online…That’s usually the only out-of-class assignment they have, so they have the time to focus on those three questions,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher added that the SAT test is not vastly different from the ACT, which is something MHS students preparing for the test find solace in.

“What I’ve been told is that the SAT is a lot like the ACT, so I figure it’s going to be similar, [there will be] just a few minor changes we can adjust to,” MHS junior Nicole Johnson said.

Schumacher agrees that the switch should not present an overwhelming amount of difficulty due to similarity, and suggests that there could be some positive aspects to the new test as well.

“I feel like the SAT is more student-friendly, so I think that they have a better chance of success on the SAT than they might have on the ACT,” Schumacher said. “I also like that it challenges them a little outside the box, so it requires them to do that mental math portion with no calculator, so I really think it requires them to step up a little bit in that regard, but overall, I think we’ll see better results from this test than we did the last test.”

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Cosmetologists to study domestic violence

By Abby James
Business Manager

The state of Illinois has passed a law requiring students in hopes of acquiring a cosmetology license to attend a class on domestic violence and sexual assault. In order to renew a cosmetology license, these people must continue to take these courses.

Lake Land College director of Cosmetology and Esthetics Peggy Strange has a well-developed understanding of the new law.

“I can start out with what I do know: As of Jan. 1, 2017 all licensed Cosmetologists, Estheticians and Nail Technicians in the state of Illinois will be required to attend one Continuing Education course (for one clock hour) that pertains to recognizing the signs of domestic violence,” Strange said. “Currently Illinois Cosmetologists are required to receive 14 Continuing Education hours every two years, so in those 14 Continuing Education hours, one hour will be about domestic violence. Estheticians & Nail technicians are both 10 hours every two years, so again one hour would pertain to domestic violence.”

Strange has had to alter the curriculum she directs at Lake Land to coincide with this new requirement. She feels as if teaching about these issues will be informative but will not take away from the positive aura of the class.

“I think the classroom environment will ultimately still be positive, as it always has, but it will make students aware that there is an issue with domestic violence.  Students will also be more attentive when consulting with clients—knowing what signs to look for and what to say,” Strange said. “Hopefully, in the Domestic Violence seminar the Cosmetologist take, the speaker can give out resources for the stylist to send their clients to if they suspect that type of situation.”
Although many people feel as if this will create a better society, some feel as if this law is confusing and doesn’t make sense. Unlike teachers, who are mandated reporters, which means by law they are required to report signs of violence, this new law does not require cosmetologists to report anything.

“My job as a mandated reporter is to report anything suspicious or anything I know to someone of authority. We are specifically directed not to say anything because we could say the wrong thing since we do not have a counseling license. I understand the law itself, but I find it questionable because they [cosmetologists] don’t have a counseling license,” MHS social science teacher Jessica Nunez said.

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