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Elementary School News

BES 2nd Quarter Perfect Attendance



Benld Elementary School Perfect Attendance for 2nd Quarter

Alepra, Sarah Maria

Allison, Jenny Lyn

Baglin, Joseph Dean

Ballard, Shane Allen

Balzraine, Isabelle Jane

Bersch, Isaiah Nathaniel

Bertetto, Michael Victor


Bertoldi, Hannah Gabriel

Bertolino, Grace Della

Bertolis, Colbie Dean

Bertolis, Kennen John

Bertolis, Mitchel Joseph

Bethard, Logan Michael

Bielicke, Keegan Andrew

Bires, Sydney Rachel


Blevins, Hunter Riley

Blevins, Mya Marie

Blevins, Quentin Bryce

Boedecker, Angelina Destiny

Boedecker, Samuel David

Borror, Cadence Renae

Brazel, Austin Joel

Brazel, Reece Shawn


Brown, Ian Mark

Brown, Kenton Walker

Bussmann, Lexie Ryanne

Bussmann, Reese Elliott

Campbell, Norman Leroy Jr

Clark, Jenna Rose

Clark, Mallory Taylor

Cloud, Isabelle Lyn


Cooper, Hannah Brooke

Cox, Joie Jane

Crays, Rebecca Jo

Crider, Kaleb Lee

Damm, Kendra Rebecca-Kay

Damm, Seth William

Danis, Jumall Nicholas

Dolliger, Briget Lee


Doty, Brock Joseph

Doty, Lanie Grace

Drewel, Adylin Louise

Eaker, Elizabeth Louise

Farris, Cole Adam

Fenton, Bruce Edward III

Flack, Michael Aaron

Gardiner, Shelby Madison


Garwood, Hudson Fisher

Garwood, Wyatt Harrison

Gill, Andrew William

Gill, Trenton Dale

Gilliam, Hailey Dee

Gyorkos, Austin Eli

Gyorkos, Kenneth Dawson

Hailstone, Cameron Scott


Halpin, Cameron Michael

Halpin, Robert John

Halteman, Brenna Elise

Hammann, Ethan James

Harbaugh, Clayton Dakota

Hatlee, Levi Paul

Hatlee, Luke Byron

Hatlee, Megan Jo


Hedrick, Madison Marie

Helmkamp, Hayden Edward

Hendricks, Juliann Paige

Heyen, Alexander John

Heyen, William Patrick

Hill, Rebecca Antoinette-Belarmino

Hughes, Colton Lee

Hughes, Devon William


Jacobs, Jessica Marie

Jarman, Blake Lee

Kampwerth, Gianna Rose

Kasarda, Kylie Nicole

Kaylor, Preston James

Kharsi, Laila Rose

Kidwell, Olivia Grace

King, Andrew William Jacob


King, Brandon Wayne

Kirby, Makayla Amelia

Koniak, Drew William

Lamparter, Addisen McKenna Elizabeth

Lancaster, Blane Levi

Laughlin, Damon Jacob

Lucas, Angel Shianne

Lucas, Skyler Hunter


Madeline, Ayden Patrick

Maykopet, Dominic Alen

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McDaniel, Alyssa Marie

McMillin, Mackenzie Louise

McMillin, Madison Louise

Miller, Lindsey Jo

Mitchell, Abbie Rene


Monke, Austin Michael

Niemeyer, Madison Renee

Ottersburg, Alex Robert

Pabon, Michael Kain

Pannier, Kodie Johnelle

Parish, Ethan Daniel

Parker, Owen Scott

Pau, Emmery Miranda


Pelt, Alexandria Kay

Student Name

Perez, Seth Jeremy

Phillips, Ryleigh Lynn

Picklesimer, Jordan Taylor

Pierce, Kylee Ann

Pilger, Alexander Jacob

Polo, Katherine Ann


Polo, Laura Renee

Redmon, Chase Alexander

Reid, Ryan William

Reid, Samuel James

Releford, Wrigley Elizabeth

Remer, Jacob Matthew

Remer, Zane Michael

Reynolds, Callie Michelle


Rhodes, Rickey James

Ribes, Anthony Angelo

Richardson, Andrea Jo

Richardson, Anthony Michael

Rieffer, Zander Edward

Ronald, Ava Marie

Ronald, Jaylen Michael

Rosentreter, Tess Lynn


Sarti, Hunter Blake

Savant, Phoebe Katherine

Savant, Ruby Matteson

Schlechte, Madison Kay

Schmit, Emilee Kate

Schuette, Alyssa Faith

Schuette, Zachary Tyler

Seferi, Florian *


Semplowski, Dylan Michael

Shuey, Alexis Dee

Shuey, Macy Marie

Simmons, Logan Gregory

Smith, Beau James Kelly

Starks, Cameron LaMonte Bane

Stevens, Jackson James

Stevens, Jacob Joseph


Stevenson, Daisy Jane

Timpe, James Joseph Jr

Tormino, Zoe Lynn

Van Doren, Grace Jenny

Van Doren, John William Jr

Vargo, Dominick Allen

Wallace, Isabella Danielle

Wargo, Tristen Benedetti


Waugh, Kobe Michael

Wilson, Jeffrey Alvin

Wolber, Daniel Paul

Wolber, Deyon Marie

Young, Avery Jacob

Young, Rachel Lee




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Community News

Holiday Sparkle gets off to early start Sunday with tree lighting



Handmade ornaments by students at Ben-Gil Elementary School

Featuring shopping opportunities, children’s activities and festive holiday decorations, Gillespie’s Holiday Sparkle will return to the downtown business district on Saturday, Dec. 17, according to members of the Holiday Sparkle Committee. Once an annual tradition under the sponsorship of the now disbanded Coal Country Chamber of Commerce, the last Holiday Sparkle was held in 2018.

The Holiday Sparkle will get off to an early start at 6 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 27 with the official lighting of the community Christmas tree in the open lot next to United Community Bank at the intersection of Pine and Macoupin Streets. The 15-foot live tree will sport upward of 1,000 colorful LED lights along with hand-made Christmas ornaments decorated by BenGil Elementary School students.

“We’ve heard from many area residents and businesses who missed the Holiday Sparkle the last few years,” said Tammy Beechler of Hicks Maytag and a member of the Holiday Sparkle Committee. “Our committee members wholeheartedly agree Gillespie should have an annual holiday event not only to boost downtown businesses but also provide a memorable Christmas experience for children and adults.”

The reimagined Holiday Sparkle will be a day-long event starting with the arrival of Santa Clause at 9 a.m. at the gazebo located in Pomatto Memorial Park adjacent to the Gillespie Civic Center and concluding with a 5 p.m. lighted holiday parade on Macoupin Street. In the event of inclement weather, Santa will visit with children and hear Christmas wishes in the Civic Center instead of the gazebo.

The Civic Center also will be the location for free children’s crafts from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and face painting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Other children’s activities will include a petting zoo from 9 a.m. to noon on the vacant lot next to Lumpy’s Bar and Grill, 208 S. Macoupin St., and a holiday story time at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the Gillespie Public Library.

Drawing on the traditions of European Christmas Markets, the Holiday Sparkle will feature a number of crafters and food vendors offering their wares from outdoor booths. Crafters will offer one-of-kind, hand-made gift items along Macoupin Street as well as food vendors offering sandwiches and holiday treats, including kettle korn.

There is no fee for non-profit organizations sponsoring food booths. For-profit enterprises will be required to purchase a $25 one-day permit from the city. Crafters or food vendors may visit online or call Beechler at 217-839-3167 to register or get more information.
“In addition to our vendors, we hope Holiday Sparkle visitors will take time to visit our local retailers and eateries to explore what Gillespie businesses have to offer not only at Christmas but throughout the year,” Beechler said.
A majority of downtown businesses already have agreed to decorate their stores for the holiday and many have agreed to decorate concrete planters located on the sidewalk along Macoupin Street.

Event visitors may register at numerous locations for a chance to win one of up to 50 holiday hams donated by Gillespie Masonic Lodge 214 and Black Diamond Days. Registration sites will be marked by flyers in their windows.
Costumed Christmas characters will roam the length of the festival venue during the day. Visitors can make s’mores or get warmth from 1 to 5 p.m. near fire pits located near the community Christmas tree near at the intersection of Pine and Macoupin Streets where live music will be available during the same time period. Grow Gillespie’s Colonial Giving Garden will be the starting point for a 5K Santa Stampede at 3 p.m. Persons wishing to participate in the Santa Stampede can register online at


While this year’s edition of the Holiday Sparkle will include many familiar features from past events, the committee also has planned a few new surprises including a lighted Cruisin’ Into Christmas parade and a Great Griswold Holiday home decorating contest.

Advance registration for parade units is $5 per vehicle or walking group, $10 on the day of the parade, and no charge for civic or school groups. Registration can be accomplished online or in person at Hicks Maytag, 118 S. Macoupin St. Checks should be made payable to Grow Gillespie.
All participating vehicles must be decorated with lights and must be insured. Golf carts, ATVs or side-by-sides must be registered with the city. Line-up for the parade is at 4 p.m. on Macoupin Street near Moto Mart, and the parade will step off at 5 p.m.

Residents who wish to participate in the Great Griswold lighting contest also may register online or in person at Hicks Maytag. Images of participating homes will be posted on the Holiday Sparkle Facebook page and visitors to the page can vote for their favorites through Friday, Dec. 16. The first-place winner will receive $50, plus a “2022 Great Griswold Light Competition” first-place winner yard sign; second place will receive $25, plus a runner-up yard sign.

“We are extremely proud of the work our committee has done to organize an outstanding event in a short period of time,” Jennifer Parker, a teacher at Ben-Gil Elementary School and Holiday Sparkle Committee member, said. “The Holiday Sparkle promises to have something for everyone and be a memorable holiday event we can continue to build upon in the coming years. We are especially grateful to Grow Gillespie for agreeing to sponsor the event for insurance purposes this year.”

“Christmas is for kids,” said Parker. “Our Christmas tree is a great way to involve local children and get them involved in supporting community events. I’m sure dozens of our students will want to visit the tree during the Christmas season and point out the ornaments they made to friends and relatives.”

For more information about the Holiday Sparkle, be sure to visit or find the Gillespie Holiday Sparkle on Facebook. Further information also is available by calling 217-839-3167 or emailing

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Elementary School News

Students from BenGil Elementary complete summer reading challenge



Students from BenGil Elementary completed a summer reading challenge that included reading 20 books in a variety of fun ways such as reading by the pool, with a sibling, or under the stars.

These 23 students who completed the challenge were awarded a certificate of completion and will have an ice cream party in the school garden later this week. 

Completing the challenge were (top, L-R) Harper Thackrey, Lucy Boyett, Piper Logsdon, Maddie Ballinger, Klaire Gerdes, Elizabeth Wright, Kenley Brown (middle, L-R) Ava Burbridge, Aidan Lyons, Chase Stoecker, Rayla Large, Kinley Thackrey, Hadlee Heltsley, Tate Heltsley, Caroline Jubelt, Phoebe Logsdon (bottom, L-R) Clara Burbridge, Laytin Moore, Bear Sauerwein, Paige Sauerwein, Paxton Logsdon, Brody Knetzer, and Zaide Hinsey.

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Elementary School News

Elementary school launches candy sale Jan 29



The Ben-Gil Elementary School candy sale gets underway next week. (Archived photo/Margaret Wayman)

Ben-Gil Elementary School is excited to be offering the World’s Finest chocolate candy bars and confections again. Proceeds from the sale will be used for technology to support the Promethean boards in the elementary school. The sale is set to begin Wednesday, January 29 and continue through Wednesday, February 12.

Students in Kindergarten through 5th grade will be selling assorted candy bars for $1.00 each and will also have boxed items for $2.00 each.

There are individual as well as classroom prizes awarded. A family grand prize drawing will be held for four Cardinal baseball tickets.

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