BW&FFAAugust 18, 2015

By Mary Cooley, BND

Future Farmers of America at Belleville West are already feeding America, with sweet corn going to two area food pantries.

FFA sponsor Jared Hemmer said about five of the 15 club members participated over the summer.

“They were there just about every day that I was out there,” he said, with the students not only picking the corn by hand at least twice, but also adding electric fencing.

Hemmer said it was about an acre, and the land and two types of sweet corn seed were provided by members of the agriculture advisory board.

He said he wasn’t sure how much corn they picked for donation, “we just put them in whatever bags we could find that day.”

One day they packed three garbage-sized bags full of the fresh corn, Hemmer said, which they gave to the Community Interfaith Food Pantry in Belleville and the Mascoutah Food Pantry.

The students discussed which food pantries to donate to, he said, and the summer project gave them “a little sense of pride and a sense of ownership.”

The number of students taking agriculture courses is growing, too.

Hemmer said Belleville West is growing its agriculture program from one ag science class to an ag science, veterinary science and landscape and turf management class. He also teaches two veterinary science classes at Belleville East.

“There’s a lot of opportunities out there for them,” in agriculture, he said. “That’s why administration completely backed us in starting the program.”


The Illinois Board of Education will discuss e-learning days and a revenue code for school districts that receive a supplemental grant for general state aid at its meeting on Wednesday. The board is also slated to talk about the district intervention funding for East St. Louis District 189 and the North Chicago District.

The state board is going to choose three districts that have snow and ice days that break up instruction time to be part of the three-year pilot study. An ISBE spokesperson said it would be a competitive process, and districts will be chosen based on how they will connect students and staff on e-learning days. Schools will be selected this fall.

The meeting is a video conference with locations in Chicago, Springfield and Marion; it will be audio cast on the Internet at starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.


Students at Zion Lutheran School in Belleville started off with something a little extra in their backpacks after an event on Sunday.

Pastor Brian Downs of Zion Lutheran Church gave a devotion and then blessed all the backpacks and school bags. Each student got a bag tag to that effect.

Erica Stelling of Zion Lutheran said more than 200 family members came to the event, which also offered school tours.


Granite City High School has been accredited through several commissions and associations that make up the AdvanceED network. Superintendent Jim Greenwald announced last week the accreditation, “another successful, rigorous AdvanceED accreditation,” — had been earned by Principal Daren Depew and the staff.

The school earned the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, the Northwest Accreditation Commission, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement.

The school also received an Index of Education Quality score, which provides a measure of the school’s performance on the criteria used in accreditation.


Last week, before school kicked off, Belleville District 118 administrators gave out several awards to staff at its annual opening day gathering.

“It’s a welcome back for everyone,” said Superintendent Matt Klosterman, with the awards announcement part of the morning meeting and teachers breaking off into like groups for teacher development.

Awards included the first-ever Mary McHugh STARR Award, which went to Mary Karban, a kindergarten teacher at Henry Raab.

Ashley Shalenko, a first -rade teacher at Westhaven Elementary, and Joy Hart, an administrative assistant at Washington School, won the Making A Difference Award.

The Bill Porzukowiak Character Award went to Gloria Miles, a food service employee at Central Junior High School, Donna Shock, a building administrative assistant at Henry Raab School, and Marty Barger, a Title I reading teacher at Abraham Lincoln School.