D211 Post: Cisco Systems Adds Student Interns Following Career Expo

Photo courtesy of Cisco Systems.

            On April 4, 2018, Township High School District held its first Career Expo.  The expo was attended by nearly 100 area businesses representing all 16 career clusters, as well as more than 400 students looking to explore post-education career possibilities.

            One business in attendance was Cisco Systems.  Service Delivery Lead Ramya Vijay said she heard about the expo from District 211 Internship Coordinator Jan Brottman.  Ramya said she was acquainted with the District due to the networking courses focusing on Cisco was offered at the Palatine High School.

            “We saw this, in part, as a way to encourage more students to take networking courses,” she said.  “We felt that  District 211 was the best to start expanding our STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiatives.” During the Career Expo, We had an overwhelming number of students interested in internships with Cisco.

            “We received more than 50 resumes,” Ramya said.  “After rigorous interviews, we selected 10 students to intern with us.  Cisco also wants to encourage girls in STEM , so had a good number of girls join our internship as well”

            During the internship, students were exposed to the many aspects of Cisco including hands-on lab work, tech classes, applications in real-world scenarios, and meetings with various executives from Cisco.  They were asked to create ideas and present business case for entrepreneurship during their innovation challenge. Students were awarded gift certificates for the best idea for the innovation challenge.   Ramya and her Cisco team were very impressed with the District students.

Photo courtesy of Cisco Systems.

            “The students were highly motivated and disciplined,” Ramya said.  “No one missed any classes.  There was a lot of engagement from students and parents.  While they learned from us, we also learned a lot of things from them as well.  It was a great experience.”

            Ramya added that she was impressed with the Career Expo.

            “It’s a wonderful thing to have the expo,” she said.  “It is never dry.  We had a constant stream of students and parents.  This expo is time well spent for any business.”

            This year’s Career Expo will be March 13, at Schaumburg High Schools.  Businesses wishing to participate can sign up at www.tinyurl.com/2019D211Expo The deadline for businesses to register is February 22.


D211 Post: Conant Winter Play “subText” Explores Teenage Life

            When the James B. Conant High School’s Conant Theater takes the stage February 8, they will be presenting the newer play “subtext,” which delves into the experiences of 21st century teenagers through a variety of short segments told in the round.

            “This play brings attention to several issues close to my heart,” said Conant High School Winter Play Sponsor Stephanie Svarz. 

            The play was written by Tyler Dwiggins, who Svarz meet while both were at Northwestern University in 2011.  She spoke with Dwiggins during the recent winter break looking for a possible play.

             “As a high school teacher, I find it hard to find accurate representations of my students in a way that respects their stories and experiences,” said Svarez “They have to face challenges unlike any that previous generations have ever encountered.”

            Svarz said the performance brings together a collection of students which ranges from newer performers to veteran members of the acting club.

Cameron, played by Senior Jeffrey Pagels, brags about his social media following in “subText.”

            One student, who is relatively new to Conant’s productions is senior Jeffrey Pagels. Pagels first acted with the theatre group one year ago and said the group is like a family to him.

            “This is a family like no other.  It may sound cliché, but we have a closeness that doesn’t exist in other clubs or groups,” he said.

            On top of acting in the play, Pagels has used his artistic skills to create some of the publicity material for the production.

            Junior Ailey Yamamoto, one of the student directors, has been with Conant Theater since she was a freshman because she is “loud.”  She added that the people in the group are her kind of people who always have something kind to say. While she is helping to direct this play, she says she is more comfortable acting on stage.

Senior Jeffery Pagels goes over Senior Ailey Yamamoto’s notes during a rehearsal of “subText.”

            “It’s really cool, even on a high school stage, to put on a show for people in the audience,” she said.  “It’s also great to be someone else for a little while. You can really forget your problems doing this.”

            Pagels has advice for anyone considering theater.

            “If you are even thinking about joining theatre, please do it,” he said.  “You won’t regret it.  Not now, not ever.”

D211 Post: Palatine Hosts Seventh Science Olympiad

            Palatine High School held its seventh Science Olympiad November 30.  The event, which was the largest in Illinois, drew approximately 1100 students from 33 schools, including three from Indiana and one from Kentucky.

            Carl Garrison, Palatine High School Science Department chair, was pleased by the large turnout and eagerness of the competitors. 

            “It is wonderful to see so many students wake up early on a Saturday to do Science,” he said.  “So long as students want to do science early on a Saturday, the rest of the PHS coaches (Patrick Rauen, Robert Heitz, and Alex Larson), will continue to provide it.”

            The competing students formed teams of up to 15, of which no more than seven could be seniors.  The teams competed in a variety of different events ranging from astronomy to chemistry and physics.

            Conant High School sophomore Kaylee Kim said she joined her school’s Science Olympiad team because it allowed her to combine her passions for science and music together.

            “I joined because I was really interested in music, and I thought it would be cool to learn more about science through my love of music,” she said.  “When I heard there was a music division where I could use science to build my own instrument, I was very excited.”

            Garrison said the Palatine competition as well as a competition hosted by Conant are great gauges for upcoming state competitions.

            “As a coach, I use these tournaments to help determine who should be in the regional team,” he said.  “We use the results to help us build the strongest team that can get through the Regional and State tournaments.”

D211 Post: District Students Compete in Architecture and Design Competition

            Students from across the District competed against each other in the District 211 Architecture Competition in which they designed an ideal and functional house.  Each entry had to include four bedrooms and two and half bathrooms while being up to 3,500 square feet.  The winning entry, submitted by Palatine High School senior Nelson Bartolo, will be the Building Construction Program house to be built on Berner Road in Elgin next year.

            Work began on each student’s design at the start of the school year.  More than 350 students in participated in designing homes and submitted entries to the competition.  From those, ten entries, 2 from each school, were selected to present to a panel of judges at the G.A. McElroy Administration Center November 9.

            “Students house designs were amazing.  It was obvious that all of the D211 students took their time and did the proper research to create house designs that were appropriate tor the location,” said Palatine High School Applied Science Department Chair Mark Hibner.  “Students followed the guidelines of the project and designed homes that included appropriate construction methods while infusing current interior design trends.”

Palatine High School senior Audrey Birk describes the the plans for a house she designed during a District wide drafting and architecture competition Nov. 9.

            During the finals, each of the ten students stood before a panel of judges which included architects, interior designers, teachers, and contractors.  The student discussed the layout of each room as well as inspirations for various aspects of their unique designs.  For Bartolo, part of the preparation was practicing his presentation repeatedly at home.

            After each student presented their designs to the panel, the judges moved into deliberation to discuss all the designs.  One judge, Mike Rafferty of Rafferty Architecture, has been involved with previous 3 competitions and has seen improvement in the students’ plans.

            “Every year the presentations get better.  The technology and support from their teachers really help prepare them and make them better,” he said.  “I was very impressed by the underclassman representation.  Their involvement in things like this will give them a great opportunity to witness fields like architecture and construction.”

            Following the panel’s deliberation, each student called up to discuss what was liked as well as potential improvements for future designs.  They were then presented with framed copies of their designs. 

Palatine High School senior Nelson Bartolo (center left) holds his design concept.

            The judges stated following their deliberation that selecting an individual winner was difficult given the exceptional effort and design each student presented.  They stated the decision was made to select a first and second place for the first time.  They announced Palatine High School senior Audrey Birk as second place before announcing Batolo as the winner.

            Bartolo, who has been involved in Computer Drafting courses since his freshman year said he was surprised and appreciative after the announcement.

            “It just shows that hard work really does pay off,” Bartolo said.  “I am thankful to my school for the opportunity to compete in something like this and to my teachers for their amazing support.”

D211 Post: District 211 Adds Japanese Language Course Through Online Classroom

            Students at James B. Conant and Schaumburg High School have been involved in a new style of classroom this semester.  They gather in their respective school’s media centers where they log into Blackboard where they engage online with a Japanese language instructor at Harper College.  This is the District’s first step into adding online classes to the curriculum.

              Conant High School Senior Emma Rogers said she was happy to see the District use the online course option to add Japanese to the curriculum.

              “When I was in elementary school, my mother put me in the dual language program.  Ever since then, we have been a Japanese program,” she said.  “When I got to high school, they didn’t have it.  As soon as they added it, I chose to take it to continue my Japanese learning.”

            Dr. Danielle Hauser, District 211 Director of Instructional Improvement, said the District explored options for students to continue once they moved from District 54 to District 211.

            “We encouraged students to take the Seal of Biliteracy in their native language and the target language.  In addition, we encouraged students to participate in internships where they would be able to continue in their language acquisition skills,” Hauser said.  “All along that time, we have been seeking opportunities to continue coursework in the Japanese language.

            Hauser said Harper College was willing to partner with District 211 to establish what would ultimately become one of the District’s newest dual credit course.

            Starting in the spring of 2018, representatives from Harper College and District 211 tested a variety of programs to see which would be the easiest to integrate the high school students into the college’s online course.  Hauser said they ultimately chose Blackboard, which Harper currently uses for multiple classes.  This allows the students to log in to the class from both their iPads and a central station in the classroom.

            For Rogers, whose mother is half Japanese, having the course available has helped rebuild her vocabulary and is helping her brush up her technique. 

A student at James B. Conant High School submits answers to a question asked during her online Japanese class.

            “I noticed after freshman year, by not having the course available, caused by vocabulary to diminish,” she said.  “At home, my mom speaks to me in Japanese and I would have to respond in English.  Being in a class which forces me to use Japanese every day has been very helpful.”

            Dr. Hauser said an unexpected benefit to this online course is the students are exposed to an online system used by many colleges.  She said when the students go on to college, they are now familiar with programs most first year college students haven’t used.  She added that the District was pleased to offer students a way to continue a program they began in elementary school and can continue into college.

            “District 211 is very excited to offer students an opportunity to continue their Japanese acquisition skills after many years in the dual language program while gaining the benefits of course credits on both their high school and college transcripts,” Hauser said.

            Rogers said she has plans to continue her studies after graduating from Conant.

            “After high school I plan to major in aviation while minoring in Japanese,” she said.

D211 Post: Best Selling Author Visits District 211 Schools

            Sandhya Menon, author of the New York Times bestseller When Dimple Met Rishi spent two days meeting with students from James B. Conant and Hoffman Estates High School.  Her visit to Conant coincided with the school’s first Author Day.  During her visit to Hoffman Estates, she met with students in English Teacher Britany Westby’s creative writing class.

            At Hoffman Estates, Menon told students they should never be afraid of rejection.  She recounted the story of author Stephen King’s multiple rejection letters and told the students of the many times she had doubts in her own writing.

Sandhya Menon, author of the New York Times bestseller When Dimple Met Rishi, speaks with students at Hoffman Estates High School Oct. 26.

            “Every writer has one thing in common,” she told the students.  “All of them have dealt with failure. Failure isn’t a permanent state unless you take no for an answer.”

            She told the students about her early days of writing and obstacles that she overcame to get where she is now.  Following her stories, she took questions from the students.  Student questions ranged from where she gets the inspiration for her characters to the environment she prefers when she writes and how she develops plot and character aspects.

Author Sandhya Menon signs a copy of her book “When Dimple Met Rishi,” for Hoffman Estates High School senior Michaela Elkins during a visit to the school Oct. 26.

            Menon said she was amazed by the questions the students approached her with.

            “I was completely blown away by the talent and insightful questions I got,” she said.  “They were more insightful than a lot of adults I have met.”

            Menon’s visit to Hoffman Estates was arranged through Media Center Department chair Terri Berkowitz in conjunction with the Schaumburg Township Library.

            Westby felt students hearing about Menon’s background and realistic views were beneficial.

            “I love that she is both a therapist and a writer,” Westby said.  “She was very realistic in her career ambitions; she was quite honest about the length of time it took her to earn her bachelor’s degree.  Everything was absolutely vital for my students to hear.”

D211 Post: Conant Student Provides Lifesaving Aid

James B. Conant Senior Kaitlyn O’Brien (right) checks safety equipment worn by a fellow student during the Certified Nursing Assistant Program class.

            When James B. Conant High School Senior Kaitlyn O’Brien started her shift at Rosario’s in Schaumburg September 28, she expected a usual Saturday evening.  Shortly after taking a call-in order, she said one of the waitresses ran into the back calling for the owner.

            “The waitress said a woman passed out,” O’Brien said.  “Initially I didn’t think anything of it.  I just kept bagging food.”

             A short time later, O’Brien said the owner ran in to call 911, which seemed weird to her if it were something as simple as dehydration.  When she heard the owner tell the dispatcher someone was doing CPR, she realized how serious the situation was.

            “I said to one of the adult waiters that I was certified in CPR and asked if I should go out and help,” she said.

            When O’Brien reached the dining area of the restaurant, she saw the unresponsive woman, surrounded by her family.  The woman’s daughter, a nurse, had already begun performing CPR, and O’Brien asked if she could help.

            Conant High School Science Teacher John Shoro said that while two-person CPR is not taught in traditional CPR certification courses, it is taught in the school’s Medical Terminology class, which O’Brien had taken the previous semester.

            O’Brien and the woman’s daughter continued CPR until the arrival of paramedics.  Though the woman was not responsive at the time the paramedics transported her, she was later revived.  At this time the woman is expected to make a full recovery.  O’Brien’s actions are credited with helping keep the woman alive. 

            “I think it’s important to be CPR certified,” O’Brien said.  “Even if you aren’t, you should always be ready to help in some way.”

            Following graduation, O’Brien, who is currently enrolled in the District’s Certified Nursing Assistant program, plans to attend college where she will major in nursing and minor in sign language.