Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019

When Students Turn 18: What Parents Need to Know

Parents and guardians of seniors going off to college next fall may not realize that things they take for granted at Stevenson, such as access to grades and health information, aren’t automatically available once their child turns 18. This reality, and others, will be part of “Turning 18: What You Need to Know,” the next session of Stevenson’s Parent Engagement Series at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Recital Hall portion of the Performing Arts Center. Representatives of the Shire Law Group will present information parents need to know when their child turns 18, including: gaining access to health and education records, insurance for students studying abroad, and power of attorney. The event is free.

Senior Speaks at Prevention Event in D.C.
Senior Vrushali Thakkar was one of two youth speakers at the 21st Annual Drug-Free Kids Campaign Awards Dinner held Oct. 17 near Washington, D.C. She is the president of Catalyst, a club dedicated to encouraging a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle for young people in District 125, and has been one of the state’s teen leaders against marijuana legalization. Vrushali has spoken at press conferences in Springfield and Chicago, and has given presentations to more than 40 groups including peers, lawmakers, health care specialists and law enforcement officials. In addition to her prevention efforts, Vrushali serves on the executive board of Peer Helpers, a group that provides peer counseling for SHS students, works on mental health and body image awareness campaigns in the District 125 community, tutors children in math and English at a local learning center, and coaches Indian folk dance to youth.

Interest in Seal of Biliteracy Remains Steady
About one-fifth of Stevenson’s Class of 2019 earned honors in the Illinois State Board of Education’s Seal of Biliteracy program, which aims to promote mastery in multiple languages.

Out of 1,108 graduating seniors, 207 received Seals or Commendations for demonstrating proficiency in English and one or more additional languages. The number was down slightly from the 225 who received Seals or Commendations in 2018, but is still the second-highest total in the five years Stevenson has participated in the program. More than 1,000 graduates have received the honor during the past five years.

Students who earn a Seal or Commendation will have an official seal placed on their diplomas, and recognition also will be listed on their transcripts. By law, Illinois public universities will accept the State Seal of Biliteracy as equivalent to two years of foreign language coursework. Many universities waive any foreign language requirements or grant course credit for students who have earned the seal.

Arabic, Hindi, Korean and Portuguese were added during the 2018-19 school year, joining a list that included Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Polish, Russian and Spanish. This year, Thai has been added.

Illinois ranks third among all states in granting the Seal of Biliteracy. The state issued 7,601 Seals of Biliteracy in 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available), behind only California (47,248) and North Carolina (9,291), according to a report from, which tracks Seal developments across the country.

Junior Continues Tradition of Helping Sprague Shoebox Project
Every year since he was in third grade, junior Cameron Hirschhaut has helped teachers at Laura B. Sprague School with their annual Shoebox giving project. The effort, organized through Samaritan’s Purse, packs shoeboxes full of school supplies, toiletries, toys and treats for children in Third World countries. Second-graders take part in the outreach project as part of their study on communities. They also wrote letters to the children who will be receiving the boxes. This year, students filled 400 shoeboxes.


Tuesday’s Varsity Results

Girls Volleyball
Stevenson d. Waukegan, 25-15, 25-11: The third-seeded Patriots rolled past the No. 15 seed Bulldogs in the IHSA Class 4 Palatine Regional semifinals. SHS (22-14) will face sixth-seeded Palatine for the regional championship at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Pirates beat No. 11 Wheeling in the other semifinal, 25-18, 25-18. Stevenson will look to avenge a three-set loss to Palatine suffered on Oct. 21. The Patriots made quick work of Waukegan, with most of the squad getting to play. Senior Lily Cozzi led SHS with eight kills and also had eight digs, while sophomore Amanda Holsen had seven kills to go along with three aces and seven digs. Senior Connie Song also served three aces. Classmate Grace Tully dished out 12 assists on 38-of-38 setting, while Molly Bourbon was 13-of-13 setting with six assists. Senior Aimee Staemmer added four kills, and junior Emerson Kouri recorded a team-high nine digs.

Quick Hits
Junior Sara Sulejmani is ranked second in the country in her weight class in the preseason national rankings for high school girls wrestlers for the 2019-20 season. Sara, who became Stevenson’s first girls state wrestling champion last winter, is No. 2 at 138 pounds. She earned All-America honors at 138 during last summer’s USA Wrestling women’s national championships. … Ben Brandt (Class of 2017) has started all 14 games this season for the University of Chicago men’s soccer team, which is No. 6 in the latest NCAA Division III rankings. The Maroons, who are 8-1-5, have three games remaining in the regular season, all at home.


Operation Snowball Registration Deadline Approaching
Operation Snowball registration is open until Nov. 12. Register by Nov. 5 to guarantee a T-shirt. Register for a great time bonding with other students and taking healthy risks. For more information and to register, visit the Operation Snowball web page.


The girls bowling team will have an informational meeting at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6 in Room 2006. If you cannot attend, contact Coach Johnson at


The Chicago teachers strike is headed into a 10th school day after union delegates emerged late Tuesday without any announcement of a contract deal, leading Chicago Public Schools officials to cancel classes again for today. Hours after the Chicago Teachers Union summoned representatives from city schools to discuss negotiations, and following a day in which the union and city leaders traded barbs over counterproposals, classes finally were called off around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, continuing the city’s longest strike in decades.

An internal investigation into a “football-related matter” has triggered a major administrative shake-up in Lake Park High School District 108, where the principal, athletic director and head football coach all have been either placed on administrative leave or indefinitely suspended.

Evanston residents are divided over Northwestern University’s proposal to hold entertainment and commercial events at arenas near residential neighborhoods. Although some residents supported the university’s plans, many said the variance would change the dynamic of the neighborhood they love. The proposal will soon go to the Evanston City Council for a vote.

Hundreds of Decatur students in special education and prekindergarten programs did not attend school Tuesday, the result of a strike by teaching assistants who say they are seeking better health insurance offerings from Decatur Public Schools. District officials said 528 of the district’s roughly 8,700 students would not be able to attend classes until the strike ends. Negotiations have been underway since April, including several meetings with a federal mediator.

Illinois State University is the latest school to announce plans for a competitive varsity esports team. The esports program is expected to begin in fall 2020. Several schools in Illinois already have esports programs, but ISU said it is the first public institution in Illinois to offer esports at the varsity level.


Do students have a “fundamental right” to an education that meets minimum standards of quality? That’s the question at the heart of two cases snaking their way through the federal courts. Experts say the outcome could have sweeping implications for schools across the country. Arguments were heard last week in one of the cases, involving Detroit’s long-troubled school district. The case, filed in 2016, argued that appalling conditions, including an eighth-grader who taught math to his classmates for a month after his teacher quit, denied students a basic right to literacy. A similar case was filed on behalf of students in Rhode Island last year, asserting that they were denied a basic civics education.

Nearly 1 million low-income students would lose automatic access to free school lunches under a proposal from President Donald Trump’s administration that aims to limit the number of people receiving federal food stamps. The administration is working to trim the cost of food assistance programs and close what it views as “loopholes” regarding who qualifies for them. Opponents argue that the move will have an adverse impact on children.

Colleges and universities regularly secure funds to improve their facilities by issuing bonds that they’ll have to repay, with interest, over several years. Usually, the longest they will take to repay the bonds is 30 years. Since the Great Recession, however, a dozen elite public and private universities have issued century bonds, which don’t mature for 100 years.

Art and robotics/engineering students at an Indiana high school recently made Halloween dreams come true for a 4-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. The students participated in a six-week interdisciplinary project that involved designing, building and automating a giant “Hulk Smash Machine” superhero costume to fit over Zephan Cantu’s wheelchair. Watch the video below to see how it turned out.

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