Bement honors volunteers

The Bement school board honored several community members at its meeting May 10, handing out volunteer of the year awards along with announcing the 2017 Hall of Fame recipients.

From marching band pictures to staff CPR training, Bement Superintendent said volunteer award winner Michelle Watzlawick is always ready to jump in to help the district.

Ditto for the other recipient – Pam Jarboe of Topflight Grain – who has helped supervise the company’s program that adopts each year’s second grade class and takes them on field trips to Curtis Orchard and to the Decatur Airport and provides other outings that include bowling and an annual picnic day.

“There are a couple of ladies that, if I need something, I’m in a bind or whatever, I have no doubt in my mind that I could call either one of them, so I really want to thank you,” said Greenwood at the board meeting.

Board members also approved Nancy Livingston Ard and the late Robert Eugene Driskill as the 2017 inductees into the Bement High School Hall of Fame. Each will be honored at this fall’s homecoming festivities.

Ard was Salutatorian of her 1962 graduating class at Bement High School, married Harrold Ard and the couple continues to live in Bement to this day. They have two children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Nancy is known as a homemaker with a career as a piano teacher to many area students over the years. She has been a member of the Bement Presbyterian Church for more than 60 years, and served as organist for 47 years.

Driskill was a 1940 graduate of BHS and also has strong music ties. He played violin with the Chicago Symphony training program in high school, and performed with the Jan Barber Dance Band in the 40s, where he played trumpet, string bass and violin.

His music career included playing in the homes of Frank Sinatra, Mary Martin, George Burns, Alan King, Dinah Shore and Gene Autry.

He was eventually an educator who served as principal of several schools in the Colton, California area.

Surviving him are five children including twin boys.

Teacher/coach hired
Kate Ruggless was introduced as the new middle/high school science teacher for next school year. She brings 30 years of teaching experience in which Ruggless said she “teaches with a hands-on philosophy.”

What also jumps out about her resume is her middle school coaching experience, which she will bring to Bement as an assistant high school volleyball coach. As a coach at Pleasant Plains, she guided eighth grade volleyball teams to four straight IESA state titles.

In other staffing moves, the board approved a two-year contract for current high school principal Doug Kepley, and hired Matthew Guffey as a substitute summer maintenance crew member.

Entryway might be on hold
Construction of a pair of secure entryways for the elementary and high school buildings will likely have to wait a year due to a delay in the health life safety improvements from the Illinois State Board of Education.

“But most of the other construction work can move forward,” said Grenwood of the $2.8 million in building work that will include window replacement, a new fire alarm system, ceiling and roof work.

The district has been approved for $1.43 in no- to low-interest borrowing as part of the state Qualified Zone Academy Bond program.

Board members also approved the student handbooks, which include some changes. A dress code amendment states that skirts and shorts must be to at least “finger length” when a student’s arms are at their sides. The previous measuring stick was mid-thigh, which was settled on last year in an effort to be fair to all students regardless of height and leg length.

But that method has proved hard to determine. Kepley said other districts have told him finger length makes it easier to figure out whether dress codes are being met.

“Districtwide, we thought this would be easier to enforce,” said Greenwood.

Honors night
Kepley said moving some student awards from commencement to honors night worked well in a trial run this year.

“We wanted to increase our honors night crowd, and we did that,” he said.

But board members were not sure if the awarding of scholarships should also be moved to honors night, saying it has been a long-standing tradition at Bement commencements.

“I know it makes it longer, but could we at least have them stand?” at graduation, commented Janice Fogerson. She noted that, with about 25 students graduating annually, ceremonies still only last about an hour as currently constructed.

No decision was made, but Kepley said he is open to input and that it is a work in progress.

In other action, the board:
–was told kindergarten registration is up to 27 students for the 2017-18 school year. If it remains at that number, a second teacher may be re-hired. That second position was laid off in a reduction in force move two months ago;
–approved the high school boys’ basketball cooperative agreement with Cerro Gordo; and
–approved changes in several school board policies, most of them to comply with changes in state statutes. 


Categories (2):News, Education


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