Pirates Announce New Head Wrestling Coach

Jeff Keske has been named head varsity wrestling coach at Palatine High School, effective with the 2017-2018 season.

Jeff Keske has been named head varsity wrestling coach at Palatine High School, effective with the 2017-2018 season.  Keske will take over head coaching responsibilities from Dan Collins, who is stepping down after 13 years at the head of the Pirates wrestling program. 

“We are thrilled that Coach Keske will be leading our wrestling team,” said Palatine High School Principal Gary Steiger.  “Coach Keske has an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm to share with our student-athletes.  He is well-respected by the wrestling community and knows what it takes to lead a team.  He will be a great addition to the Palatine High School athletic program.”

Currently, Keske is head freshman wrestling coach at Hoffman Estates High School, a position he has held since 2015.  He also serves as the school’s sophomore baseball coach, while teaching physical education at Fremd High School.  Previously, he taught physical education at Hoffman Estates High School from August 2015 through January 2017, and was the school’s head freshman baseball coach from 2015-2016.  Keske also taught physical education at Schaumburg High School from August 2016 through January 2017. 

During his time as the Hawks’ head freshman wrestling coach, his team recorded a third-place finish in the Mid-Suburban League Conference Tournament, as well as winning the Mather High School (Chicago) Freshmen Tournament and placing second at the Elgin Larkin Tournament.  Prior to coming to District 211, Keske was assistant varsity wrestling coach at his alma mater, Libertyville High School, from 2013-2015.  From 2012-2013, he served as assistant varsity wrestling coach at Warren Township High School (Gurnee, Ill.). From 2011-2013, Keske was a Libertyville Youth wrestling coach and a volunteer football, wrestling, and baseball coach at Vernon Hills High School. 

Keske earned his bachelor of science degree in physical education (K-12) with minor degrees in health education and driver education from Northeastern Illinois University in 2015.  He was a collegiate wrestler at Augustana College from 2005-2006, leading his team in wins and being named a Division III Top-5 ranked wrestler.  Keske also played varsity baseball at Augustana College from 2005-2006.


PHS Senior Aidan Busch Wins VFW Voice of Democracy Essay Contest

Aidan is pictured (center) with VFW officials after winning at the state level. (From left to right): Brian Duffy, VFW National Commander-in-Chief; Richard Barnes, from Ill. District 4; Aidan; Joseph Wein, from Ill. District 4; and Dave Stout, Commander of the Department of Illinois.

When Palatine High School senior Aidan Busch was looking for ways to help pay for college, he found a scholarship contest that would end up creating opportunities and friendships he never imagined.

Aidan was a winner in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) 2017 National Voice of Democracy Program and recipient of the $2,000 Department of Kentucky and Auxiliary Brian Duffy and Marion Watson Scholarship. He won the district and statewide levels of the competition and traveled to Washington D.C. as a finalist for at the national level. He was sponsored by VFW Post 1337 in Mount Prospect, Ill.

“I am honored and humbled at the same time,” Aidan said. “The VFW is a large organization and they do very good work for veterans. To have their endorsement was a very cool thing. It is a huge honor.”

The VFW is a nonprofit veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, guard and reserve forces. The theme of this year’s essay contest was “my responsibility to America.” Aidan had to not only write the essay, but also present the essay in speech format.

“This gave me a better empathy and greater understanding of veterans and what they have contributed and sacrificed for all of us,” Aidan said. “You hear about veterans’ issues on the news or from your neighbor who served, but when you have face-to-face, extended conversations with veterans, it gives you a perspective of how fortunate we are to live where we do.”

Aidan poses with other scholarship recipients on the last night of the Washington D.C. trip.

Aidan said the whole experience was “mind-opening.” He said he had the pleasure of meeting veterans and gaining friendships with people all over the world.

“I now have friends in all 50 states, Bahrain, Germany, and Puerto Rico, which is a cool thing that came out of this experience,” he said. “I have been in contact with them and we might all meet up over the summer, too.”

In the future, Aidan hopes to study political science or international relations. He is in the process of selecting a university. He will be recognized at a District 211 Board of Education Meeting later this year. 

For more information about the VFW contest, please visit the website.



Aidan’s essay is published below:

When I was seven years old, I made my first dollar. I remember less about how I made it and more about being incredibly anxious to spend it. I couldn’t wait to buy something to call my own, a possession that was mine, purchased with my own hard-earned funds. I didn’t realize at the time, however, that not everything can be purchased with a piece of green paper graced with the likeness of George Washington.

Some things can be bought, while others must be paid for. For instance, it’s easy enough to go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread. No one denies the fact that it is a simple matter to purchase a hammer and box of nails from the hardware store. One can buy an American flag or star-spangled bunting without too much difficulty. However, some things cannot by purchased with a swipe of a credit card. Some things are not readily accessible in Aisle 4 of the supermarket, between refried beans and Tabasco sauce. Liberty is one of these things. Liberty cannot be placed in a shopping cart, or casually tossed in your trunk to take home. No, Liberty is unique in that you cannot buy it. It is something that has been paid for by others. More specifically, veterans, and those who have laid down their lives in service of freedom. You cannot simply “get” liberty by filling out a mail-order form and putting a stamp on it. People have died, paying the ultimate price, so that I may live and enjoy my liberty. They gave up their opportunity to make choices and live their lives free of worry and persecution so that I, someone who has never known that struggle, may enjoy Liberty.


Patrick Henry is famous for his “Give me Liberty or give me Death” speech. But If I may be so bold, I would revise this statement. I would change it to “Liberty, because of death.” When I say death I don’t mean the sad kind, though death certainly is a melancholy affair. No, I mean sacrifice, the willing substitution of a life, an American life, so that I may live an existence of freedom and Liberty. Those who have paid have missed some of life’s most important moments, not being present for things that seem incomprehensible to miss to the average citizen. Events such as the birth of a child, the death of a parent, a daughter’s graduation, a son’s birthday party, supporting a spouse through an illnesses, teaching their child to throw a football, swing a bat or ride a bike. Missing opportunities to watch that squeaky first fifth grade band concert, or make countless trips to and from the soccer fields. They have missed these major or seemingly minor life opportunities so that I may enjoy them without fear or worry.

This is where I am responsible. Being American is unique in that each and every one of us is standing on ground stained with the blood of patriots. Many of us do not realize that our weekly trip to the grocery store is possible only because those who came before us, and fight for us, have died to make it possible. In some countries, one must kiss the entire family goodbye before leaving the house because they do not know if they will return. In America, we have the relative fortune of forgetting that we do not have these luxuries for free. They have been paid for. It is my responsibility to refuse to take these liberties for granted. It is my responsibility to ensure that every death and every act of service by an American, from March 5, 1770 to the day I die, is not wasted.

I can honor these sacrifices in a very practical way by the way I conduct myself on a daily basis. It is my personal responsibility to use these freedoms afforded to me at such a high price in a responsible manner that reflects the original sacrifice. Everyday opportunities abound, like running ahead to hold the door for a young mother pushing a stroller, or helping an elderly neighbor take out their trash. Removing my hat, placing my hand on my heart and standing tall when the national anthem is played. By putting others first, I am honoring what has already been done for me.

It is my responsibility to act as if I am walking on hallowed ground, every step paid for by the blood of Americans. It is the veterans, and those who have served our dear country in life and death, who deserve our undying gratitude and attention.

My responsibility is to remember. To remember those few, the white, black, Latino, Asian, male, female, and American few, who have given up their liberty, their peace, to give me mine. If we forget the sacrifice of these few, we will become an ungrateful nation incapable of appreciating the true value of our liberty. Because after all, it was not purchased, but paid for.

Essay by Aidan Busch

Two District 211 Students Earn Perfect Score on ACT

Fremd High School student Kevin Chen and Palatine High School student Sarah Gonwa earned perfect scores on the ACT.

At its Feb. 16, 2017 meeting, the Board of Education honored two High School District 211 students for achieving a 36, the highest possible composite score, on the ACT exam.

Fremd High School student Kevin Chen and Palatine High School student Sarah Gonwa earned perfect scores on the ACT. Both students said they were surprised to learn of earning a perfect score.

“I was really surprised when I learned I got a 36 on the test,” Kevin said. “I was really expecting to have to take it again.”

Sarah said that she took the ACT through school but needed to take the exam that included the writing portion. She said taking the first test along with preparation from some of her advanced classes helped her achieve a 36. Both students said keeping calm about the exam was a key to their success.

“The most important thing is to be calm going in to the test,” she said. “If you think too much about the repercussions of the test it can really overwhelm you. People need to remember there are more opportunities to take the test again so if they don’t do well they can take it again.”

Both students said they are in the process of applying to college and choosing majors. Kevin said he is interested in possibly attending a school on either the east or west coast and pursuing something in math or science. Sarah said she might like to major in economics or statistics. 

The ACT, which is taken by nearly 60 percent of America’s college-bound students is comprised of tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36, and a student’s score is the average of the four test scores.  On average, less than one-tenth of one percent of all ACT test takers earn a top score.

Since 1998, 96 High School District 211 students have earned a top score of 36 on the ACT.


WATCH: Top District 211 Band, Orchestra Students Perform at Honors Orchestra Concert

Some of the most advanced District 211 band and orchestra students showcased their talents during a recent concert in front of the community. This year’s District 211 Honors Orchestra Concert was held at Palatine High School on Feb. 11.  Band and orchestra students District-wide were part of the performance. Watch the performance in the videos below:

Pirate Boosters Seek Volunteers for Upcoming Dinner and Auction

Members of the Palatine community will have a chance to enjoy a dinner with live entertainment, while at the same time helping raise funds for Palatine High School students.

The 33rd annual Pirate Boosters Dinner and Auction will take place on March 3 at The Cotillion, 360 Creekside Dr., in Palatine, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. The event is open to adults in the community. This is the largest fundraiser hosted by the PHS Pirate Boosters to benefit all students, programs, and events.

Individual tickets are on sale for $60 and tables for 10 are available. The dress code is casual and Palatine Pirate spirit wear is encouraged.

In addition to dinner, there will be a live auction, 50/50 raffle, wine cork pull, silent auction, and various raffles. Some of the premium raffle and auction prizes include: Autographed jerseys (Kane, Toews, Brady, Rodgers, Rizzo, Bryant); Jay Leno tickets at the Rosemont Theatre; PHS Football end zone package for 25 guests (seating, food vouchers, team helmet); Blackhawks Evening – Tickets, dinner & drinks; Weber Grill Extravaganza – Grill, Cooking Class, and Restaurant Gift Certificate; golf packages with carts; Wine tasting parties for large groups; Dinner and movie nights; Salon services and more.

The Palatine Boosters still need many volunteers for the event. The Boosters need help with set up, during the evening, and clean up. There is a time and activity to fit everyone’s schedules and abilities. If you are available to volunteer, please contact Kerri Bloom at kerri_bloom@yahoo.com or visit https://signup.com/client/invitation/6775657374/1658356/false#!1658356/false/false

For more information about the event, please visit the website at http://www.events.org/PHSPBIL1/cpage.aspx?e=100930.


Pirates Announce New Head Football Coach

Corey Olson was named the new varsity head football coach at Palatine High School.

Corey Olson has been named varsity head football coach at Palatine High School, effective with the 2017 season. Olson, who is currently an assistant coach with the Pirates, will take over the head coaching responsibilities from Rick Splitt. Splitt is stepping down after four seasons as the Pirates head coach, posting a 34-12 overall record (.739 winning pct.), with three IHSA playoff appearances and reaching the semifinals the past two seasons.

“Coach Olson knows football, but more importantly, he knows what it takes to build a team and develop student-athletes,” said Palatine High School Principal Gary Steiger. “He has a passion for helping teenagers be successful on the field, in the classroom, and in life. His plan for the future of Palatine football combines our current strengths with his vision for a winning program. Our football program and players are in great hands with him leading the way.”

Olson served this past season as the Pirates offensive line coach, and was instrumental in preparing the offensive game plan for a 12-1 PHS squad that lost in the state semifinals to eventual 8A champion Maine South High School. He also assisted with off-season strength and conditioning in the weight room, as well as leading flexibility training with yoga. Prior to coming to Palatine High School, Olson spent seven years (2008-2014) at Conant High School, working with the offensive line and serving as the offensive coordinator for six years. From 2003-2006, Olson coached football at Hoffman Estates High School as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach and the strength and conditioning coordinator. Before moving to District 211, Olson was the defensive line coach and strength and conditioning coordinator (2002-2003) at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, Ill.

“We feel Coach Olson is a great fit for us,” said Palatine High School Athletic Director Jerry Dobbs. “Having served as an assistant coach this past year helped him gain familiarity with our program and our student-athletes. We’re not only excited about the expertise he brings to our program, but also the enthusiasm he has for the kids and the sport.”

Olson began his coaching career in the collegiate ranks at his alma mater, Western Illinois University (Macomb, Ill.), where he coached from 1998-2002. He served as the Leathernecks assistant defensive line coach (1998-1999) and assistant offensive line coach (1999-2002), while also working as assistant strength and conditioning coach (1998-2000) before moving into the head strength and conditioning role in 2001. He played offensive tackle at Western Illinois (1995-1997), was team captain and offensive co-MVP, and was named second-team All-Gateway Conference (1997). He received his bachelor’s degree in individual studies from Western Illinois University in 1998, a second bachelor’s degree in special education from WIU in 2001, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Olivet Nazarene University (Bourbonnais, Ill.) in 2005.


PHS Pirate Boosters to host 33rd Annual Dinner Auction

Members of the Palatine community will have a chance to enjoy a dinner with live entertainment, while at the same time helping raise funds for Palatine High School students.

The 33rd annual Pirate Boosters Dinner and Auction will take place on March 3 at The Cotillion, 360 Creekside Dr. in Palatine, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. The event is open to adults in the community. It is hosted by the PHS Pirate Boosters to benefit student programs and events.

In addition to dinner, there will be a live auction, 50/50 raffle, wine cork pull, silent auction, and various raffles. Some of the auction items include: professional sports tickets, massages, restaurant gift cards, catering, apparel gift cards, student parking spots, PHS spirit wear, cooking classes and more.

The PHS Pirate Boosters are also looking for donations and sponsors. Individuals that would like to donate items such as sports or theater tickets, and items for auction, please contact contributions@phspirateboosters.com. Companies can be sponsors as well. Additionally, donations of wine for the Wine Pull Raffle are also needed. Bottles worth $20 or more can be donated at https://www.facebook.com/events/370280233312682

To register or for more information, please visit the Pirate Booster website at http://phspirateboosters.com/dinner-auction/ or email phsdinnerauction@gmail.com.