D211 Post: Schaumburg Senior Crowned National American Miss Illinois Teen

            Schaumburg High School senior Courtney Larsen has been competing in pageants for nearly a decade.  On September 26, she achieved a milestone when she was named the 2020 National American Miss Illinois Teen.

            Larsen said she was shocked when announcement had been made.

            “There were definitely tears shed,” she said.  “I have never won a title before.  I was so thrilled that I had finally accomplished my goal. I didn’t know how else to filter my emotions but to just cry.”

            Due to COVID-19, this year’s pageant was handled remotely.  Competitors submitted a resume, a video introduction, and an essay about a charity of their choice.  Competitors then conducted an interview with a judge over Zoom.  Larsen said the charity she chose to focus on was Life Goes On.

            Each year, National American Miss Illinois Teen chooses a cause they will champion over the course of their reign.  Larsen chose organ donation as her cause.  She said it is a cause which has a personal connection.

            “I’m very passionate about organ donation because my grandfather has been on the wait list for a kidney for the past six years,” she said.  “Plus, since getting my driver’s license, I have heard a lot of strange misconceptions from my friends as they got theirs.  Since then, I have become very passionate about teaching people what it means to save a life or eight through organ donation.”

            She added that one of the biggest misconceptions she has heard was that signing up meant the donor had to give up an organ immediately. 

            “I think it’s important to understand that you will not give up anything until you pass away,” she said. 

            Larsen’s reign will run through July 2021, during which she will attend the national competition, perform hours of community service, and attend charity events and parades.

            While the title does include a scholarship, Larsen said there are many benefits to the title.

            “This will also look great on my college admissions essay,” she said.  “But the biggest thing is that I will be able to meet other girls from around the country who are motivated to make a huge impact in their communities and the world.  Being around them, I feel, will inspire me to do more as well.”

            Larsen said that she would encourage girls and women of any age to participate in pageants.

            “No matter your age, pageants will benefit you,” she said.  “I believe they develop skills every woman needs to know growing up.  I didn’t know I enjoyed public speaking before I did pageants.  They also help build confidence that you will always use in future careers.”

            Larsen will attend the National American Miss competition in November.  Following graduation, she plans to attend Iowa State University where she will major in fashion design. 

            To learn more about organ donation visit lifegoeson.com.

D211 Post: Conant Student Council Donates to Lurie Children’s Hospital

Deanna Kerns (left) accepts the donation from Luke Logerquist and Allison Pariso.

           Members of the James B. Conant High School student council presented a check for $4,200 to Deanna Kerns, an associate director at Lurie Children’s Hospital, during the winter sports assembly at the school March 2.  The money was raised by changing the school’s winter dance into a fundraising event.

            Kerns said the donation will be used to provide meaningful cures.

            “This money will go towards our Precision Medicine Program,” she said.  “This will allow us to provide targeted medicine and treatment for our patients.” 

            Senior Student Council member Allison Pariso said this was the first year of using the winter dance as a fundraising event. 

            “With this being our first year pairing the winter formal with a charity fundraiser, I was very surprised by how much we raised,” Pariso said. 

            “It is very surprising,” added fellow student council member Luke Logerquist.  “In normal fundraisers, you don’t expect the first year to do so well.”

Deanna Kerns, an associate director for Lurie Children’s Hosptial, thanks the students of James B. Conant High School for their donation of $4200.

            Pariso said CHS chose to donate to Lurie Children’s Hospital due to multiple students battling various forms of juvenile cancer. 

            “This is a great way to give back, not only to the students, but the community as a whole,” she said. 

            “I am so amazed by all these students,” said Kerns of the donation.  “This donation is very meaningful to the hospital.  It, like every donation, will make a difference in the treatment of our patients.”

D211 Post: PHS Holds 7th Annual Empty Bowl Charity Event

A group of teachers from Palatine High School talk while sampling a variety of soup prepared by students in the Chemistry of Foods class for their annual Empty Bowl charity fundraiser.

    Students from Palatine High School’s Chemistry of Foods and 3-D Design classes combined to hold the school’s 7th annual Empty Bowl Charity Event.  The event is based on a project started by Michigan teachers Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom in the early 1990s, and raises money for the Palatine Food Bank.

    During the event, students in the Chemistry of Foods class prepare a variety of soups, breads, and small deserts. Attendees can choose to purchase ceramic bowls created by the 3-D Ceramic Arts Class.  

    Erika Varela, a culinary arts teacher at Palatine, said the event allows students in the Chemistry of Foods class to fulfill one of the critical learning standards for the class.

    “Part of the Chemistry of Foods curriculum includes serving customers,” she said.  “We happen to have a classroom which we can turn into a restaurant so we do it this way.”

Randal Sternquist and Kiara Zamora, juniors at Palatine High School, cut cornbread during the Chemistry of Foods class’s annual Empty Bowl charity fundraiser.

    For senior William Landeene, his favorite part is the cooking and comradery.  

    “I just like cooking it all,” he said.  “Having all the teachers smile and like the food is great.”

    ESL teachers Seju Jain and Jose Zepeda have attended the event for multiple years.  Both agree that seeing the students engaged in an event that alerts them to those in need is a good thing.

    “We have several programs we program with, partner with, like blessings in a backpack,” said Jain.  “This is nice for people to know that this is a real issue, and for kids to get behind too.”

    While everyone dined, the room was lined with 24 bowls created by the 3-D Design.  Karen Lange said the creation took two weeks.

Germaine Wells, a teaching assistant at Palatine High School, scoops some soup during the Chemistry of Food class’s annual Empty Bowl charity fundraiser.

    “The students knew this was for Empty Bowls,” she said.  “They learned how to create for a commercial purpose, so they made the colors and patterns universal.”

    Lange said events like this shows the students the importance of service.

    “This really talks about service and about people who don’t have as much as them,” she said.  “For those who may need charity, it lets them know we are all in this together.”

              This year the students served more than 120 meals and raised $300 for the Palatine food bank.  The event also auctioned off nine hand-made wooden items crafted by retired applied technology department chairman Roger Basrack.

Dr. Daniel Cates, Township High School District 211 Superintendent, pours himself a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup during Palatine High School Chemistry of Foods class’s Empty Bowl charity fundraiser.

D211 Post: Palatine Students Donate to Township’s Angel Tree Program

Student Council students and staff collect presents which will be donated to Palatine Township’s Angel Tree program. (Photo by Emma Langer, yearbook student staff)

For more than 11 years, students at Palatine High School have donated gifts as part of Palatine Township’s Angel Tree Program.  This year the students donated more than 350 gifts to 100 recipients, which were delivered to Palatine Township Nov. 30.

            Jim Nowak, a math teacher and student council advisor at PHS called this a great success. 

            “Knowing this is going to those in need in our community is a great feeling,” Nowak said.

            Each year Palatine Township hosts an Angel Tree.  The tree is filled with names of children and seniors in need throughout the community.  Among the details with each name is the individuals three wishes.

            Lori Lindberg, Palatine Township’s Community Outreach Coordinator, said the students from Palatine were very generous.

            “It seems to me, they filled the wishes and then some,” Lindberg said.

Students and staff from Palatine High School load presents into a school bus to be donated to the Palatine Township Angel Tree program. (Photo by Emma Langer, PHS yearbook student staff)

            Katie Lindert, Student Council President and a senior at PHS, said clubs and organizations throughout the school each took one of the 100 names, then worked to fill the wishes with that individual.  Once all the gifts were turned in to the student council, students loaded them on a school bus for delivery to the Palatine Township office.

            “Seeing their reaction when we pulled up was an unforgettable experience,” Lindert said.

            Lindberg said people were in awe when they saw the donation from the school.

Students pose with a school bus full of presents donated to Palatine Township’s Angel Tree program (Photo by Emma Langer PHS yearbook student staff)

          “It’s always a joy to see the bus pull up,” Lindberg said.  “We love when they drop off the gifts.” 

          Nowak, who has advised the student council for more than a decade, said the Angel Tree program is one of the top events for the organization each year.

            “We really hope to see it grow,” he said.  “This year we had 100 names.  Maybe next year we could take 150.”

Hoffman Estates High School Athletes Honored with ‘Great Citizens Award’ for Community Service

Hoffman Estates High School wrestlers and cheerleaders visit residents at the Alden Poplar Creek Rehabilitation and Health Center on Valentine's Day.

Hoffman Estates High School wrestlers and cheerleaders visit residents at the Alden Poplar Creek Rehabilitation and Health Center on Valentine’s Day.

The Village of Hoffman Estates honored Hoffman Estates High School athletes for volunteering efforts that made an impact in their community.

The varsity wrestling and cheerleading squads from Hoffman Estates High School were presented with “Great Citizens Award” from the village on April 15. These student-athletes were nominated for this honor recognizing the time they volunteered this past Valentine’s Day with residents at the Alden Poplar Creek Rehabilitation and Health Center in Hoffman Estates.

Student wrestlers and cheerleaders spent the afternoon with residents passing out hand-crafted valentines created by local elementary students. The cheerleaders performed cheers while wrestlers serenaded residents after they crowned a king and queen at the Valentines party.

“It’s our obligation as coaches and role models to mold students into not only great athletes, but also outstanding citizens, as well,” said Tony Ganas, HEHS head wrestling coach who credits his own high school coach as influential in his instilled morals and values. “It is extremely fulfilling to see these individuals rewarded for their selfless acts.”

Both Ganas and Head Cheerleading Coach Brittany London were presented with a “Great Citizens Award” plaque. London, who is a newcomer to the athletic staff at Hoffman Estates High School, said they will remember this event for a long time.

“With new coaches on staff and a new group of student-athletes, this will be the year forever remembered as changing the face of Hoffman cheerleading,” London said.

With a state qualification under the teams’ belts, this award continues to exemplify their student-athletes’ dedication to exceed high expectations placed upon them. These varsity athletes were honored to receive such a prestigious award and are excited for new community service opportunities in the future.

Watch the video below created by the Village of Hoffman Estates covering the students’ visit to the rehabilitation center.