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Tag: Sun-Times Media

New Illinois law aims to head off another ‘horror’ attack like one on Elgin teacher (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — It was a scene witnesses described to The Courier-News at the time as “like out of a horror movie.”

Angel Facio of Elgin, then 16, threw a coat over teacher Carolyn Gilbert’s head as she sat at her Elgin High School desk grading papers, then repeatedly stabbed her with a steak knife until, witnesses said, the blade snapped off.

That’s a scene Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday he hopes will never be repeated in the state with the signing of a bill that will allow police to share juvenile criminal records with school officials when there is an imminent threat to individuals at the school.

Quinn signed House Bill 5602 into law Monday morning at the same school where Gilbert had been attacked in 2008.

“This is an important bill, not only for this school and this school district, but for all the schools in Illinois. We must maintain safety in the school room, in the classroom, so our teachers can do their job and instill knowledge in their students and help their students to achieve their goals,” the governor said.

School District U46 officials and school board member Jennifer Shroder, Elgin Mayor David Kaptain and city council members John Steffen and Tish Powell, Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda and representatives of other area police departments, and State Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, all attended the signing in the high school library.

Most notably, Gilbert and about 30 students from a U.S. history and a civics class stood with the governor as he signed the bill into law.

“I want to say on behalf of everybody in Illinois, we’re very proud of you. You’re a real hero to everyone in our state. Something really bad happened here, and we’re here today to make sure that never happens again. We’re also here to honor the good work of Carolyn Gilbert,” Quinn said.

The consumer sciences teacher broke into a smile as the governor whispered to her after the signing. She declined to speak publicly or to the press.

“This is a civics lesson our students rarely get to witness firsthand and we are honored to have you here at out fine school,” Elgin Principal Jerry Cook said, welcoming the governor to the high school.

“The lawmaking process can be a difficult one. The idea for a bill can be generated by lawmakers, through public advocacy and sometimes as a result of tragedy. Today’s bill signing is the result of a tragedy that occurred here at Elgin High School to one of our very own teachers, Carolyn Gilbert.”

For the rest of the story, read New Illinois law aims to head off another ‘horror’ attack like one on Elgin teacher (Sun-Times Media).

For more information about Quinn’s visit to the Elgin area and the two other bills he signed, read Quinn signs bills, cuts ribbon for Tollway project during visit (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.


Students, parents reminded about school bus safety (Sun-Times Media)

Last school year, a preschooler picked up at the Independence Center for Early Learning in Bartlett was left on a bus for two hours before an Elgin School District U46 bus driver discovered the boy at the district garage.

In 2009, a 7-year-old boy was run over by a bus while it was unloading in front of Neubert Elementary School in Algonquin.

And earlier this month, a Kane County judge decided not to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Community Unit School District 300 and its transportation provider, Durham School Services, by a woman whose daughter was injured on a school bus in 2010.

Despite those incidents, school buses continue to be the safest way for students to travel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

And National Express Corporation released a reminder as school buses return to area roads, that “everyone plays a role in school bus safety.” Durham, along with Stock Transportation and Petermann all are part of National Express Corporation, headquartered in Warrenville.

“At Durham, Petermann and Stock, we are focused on one thing, and that’s transporting children to school safely,” said Michele McDermott, senior vice president, safety and human resources at National Express Corporation.

“We take this responsibility seriously and have been preparing all summer for the new school year.”

For the rest of the story, read Students, parents reminded about school bus safety (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael R. Schmidt for Sun-Times Media.

U46 hopes for ‘more of a normal’ school year (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — Bright and early Monday morning, Kitty Syavong of Elgin snapped a photo of her daughter Deja, 9, outside Channing Memorial Elementary School.

It was Deja’s first day of fourth grade and her first at the east-side school at 63 S. Channing St. Syavong also had attended Channing when she was growing up, but her family only recently returned to Elgin from Florida, she said.

That’s not why Deja was nervous, though, according to her mom.

“She’s scared because she knows it’s haunted,” Syavong said, referring to legends that grew from the school’s location on a former graveyard.

All around them, students threw their arms around each other as they reunited after the summer break. They pointed out classroom assignments posted in the front window of the building and dragged plastic bags of school supplies, complaining their arms were tired.

They lined up outside with their classes, and, finally, said goodbye to the parents and little siblings and puppies and Spider-Man toys that had come that far — as summer officially ended and students returned to class in Elgin School District U46. Students in Burlington Central Community Unit School District 301 returned to class the same day.

U46 Superintendent Jose Torres also had returned to Channing last week to record his 2012-13 welcome video. That’s appropriate, Torres said in the video, because he had introduced himself as superintendent to the Elgin community at the same place five years ago.

“I introduced myself by saying I have a quote on my desk that says, ‘Actions reflect beliefs,’ and those beliefs that I have I said would drive the actions that I would take in the district,” he said.

For the rest of the story (and some fun back-to-school stats to impress your friends with), read U46 hopes for ‘more of a normal’ school year (Sun-Times Media).

For more information about the Breakfast in the Classroom program that also started yesterday in Elgin School District U46, read U46 schools start year — and every day — with breakfast program grant (Sun-Times Media).

And, finally, for more photos of the first day of school in Elgin School District U46, view our photo gallery.

Photo credit: Katherine Peters for Sun-Times Media.

Success in class and on dance floor (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — Elgin Community College President David Sam likes to party.

That’s what he told new students at the community college’s new student convocation Friday in the gymnasium at the Spartan Events Center.

And that’s what he proved afterward, dancing the Cupid Shuffle in a suit and shades with students at the Campus Jam Barbeque outside the building.

“In college, I was a party animal. I partied a lot,” Sam told students. “But I had outstanding grades. I’ll show you how to do that, too.”

The community college president shared his tricks for success, both in the classroom and on the dance floor, before the fall semester begins today, ranging from doing well on your first test to knowing when to have fun. (See accompanying tips)

The college kicked off the 2012-13 school year with the new student convocation, followed by a cookout, DJ and giveaways at Campus Jam; new student workshops; and campus tours. It also showed the movie “The Hunger Games” that night on an inflatable screen outside on the Spartan Athletic Field.

It has held a convocation — a “bookend” mimicking its graduation ceremony and giving students “something to strive toward” — for the past four years, Sam said. He doesn’t know of any other community colleges that do the same thing, he said.

“I am tickled pink. I am happy to see you here because you’re embarking on a journey — a journey that will culminate in your receipt of a diploma or certificate,” he told students.

For the rest of the story, and Dr. Sam’s tricks for success, read Success in class and on dance floor (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Jon Konstantaras.

Biweekly Wrap-up: Back to school 2012-13!

The 2012-13 school year started this week with a bang.


I got rear-ended on the way to Jacobs High School in Algonquin on Monday, the first day of school in Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300.

I was sitting in my car at a red light in Carpentersville. It was raining, and I heard tires squealing, and I glanced up into the rearview mirror and thought, “The first day of school!” I ended up halfway across the intersection. Luckily, the light just had turned and nobody had started into the intersection yet. Not luckily. Miraculously.

The other driver was terrified and apologetic. She’d never been in an accident, much less caused one before, she said. I hugged her and said it was OK, it was raining, it was slick, it was just my bumper, accidents happen. And, hey, usually when my car gets hit, and this isn’t unusual with all the miles I drive between work in the suburbs and home in the city, it gets totaled and I end up in the hospital. When the very kind Carpentersville policewoman arrived, she asked if I wanted her to write the other driver a ticket. My car just had spun out on some rain on top of oil on the expressway the week before, so I had a lot of grace for this sort of thing. And I said, no, I didn’t want to put her through that; I just wanted her insurance to fix my bumper, cracked and dented and hanging off one side of my car. The policewoman wrote her a warning. I still made it to school before the back-to-school assembly I’d planned to cover for the newspaper.

For a delirious moment, it felt like the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived on earth. Things were working as they ought, with honesty and grace and forgiveness and humor. This was salvation — not just in eternity, but in the here and now, salvation from the trouble she could have caused me and unglued reaction I could have had. And then the other driver’s insurance let me know yesterday they won’t be sending me the full price to replace the bumper. There was a small dent already in the bumper, so they don’t have to, they said. I looked this up, and they’re right: in Illinois, at least, they don’t. Which seems unfair. And also like a great deal of money I would rather not spend.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, other than the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, may the Name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21). And while we join Christ in the work of His new creation, a new heaven and a new earth, we ain’t yet perfect and it ain’t yet here (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Peter 3:13-15).

Also, there is no owl.

Hopefully, the start of the school year next week at Elgin Community College and School District U46, the second-largest in Illinois, will be a little quieter. Here’s what I’ve written the past two weeks leading up to that:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.