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GHS Girls Soccer 2011 Season Preview!

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For a lot of athletes in our area the thaw of spring means hitting the soccer field!  At a time when most only dare to begin to venture out doors with the faint glimpse of summer coming, somewhere around 40 girls and 2 dedicated coaches are running around in the still almost frozen mud!  Running drills and wiping off soccer balls caked in mud.  Onlookers can only begin to feel the sense of excitement and dedication that is almost cutting through the air…this my friends is the start of GHS Girls Soccer season!

For 4 years now the “parent funded” GHS girls soccer team has improved by leaps and bounds.  Just talk to any one of the many dedicated parents and Coaches Libbra & Blank that have been with this program from inception, and you will not find people  more dedicated to a sport and a group of young women than you can imagine!  The 2011 season is especially important to this group because thanks to a unanimous vote by the Gillespie School Board the girls team will be, for the first time, playing at the newly built Schmidt Sports Complex at GHS! I was lucky enough to attend one of the last energenized practices before game play starts on Tuesday, March 15 against rival Staunton, and a quote from Senior Sarah Heyen (the first to graduate as an original four year member of the soccer team) seems to give just a small notion of what this season means to these girls: “I’ve been with this program since the start!  No one imagined we would be where we are today.  Playing on the Sports Complex football field is more than just a location, it symbolizes success and recognition as a team!”

Junior, Nicole Semanik followed up with “As a Junior this is such a great opportunity to play at the Sports Complex field, it is something we never dreamt we would get to do!  The entire team is so excited about Tuesday season opener again Staunton.”

While the Lady Miners season opener is Tuesday at Staunton, the excitement tends to lean towards March 22, where by chance the Lady Miners again come up against Staunton, but for the first time at their new home at the GHS Schmidt Sports Complex!

Senior Taylor Hamilton says “I couldn’t ask for anything more than to finish my Senior year doing the sport I love on my home field!  Everyone can’t wait for Tuesday, the feelings we all have right now are just more than words.”
Followed by Junior Beth Ray “This year is going to be the best year because we have all become such a family.  Playing with all these girls you have so much trust and faith in is the best feeling in the world!”

Talking to the coaches, you are not sure who is more excited about this season, the girls or their coaches!  Coach Blank says “If this team stays healthy there is no reason we can’t triple our wins!  With a large core of returning letterman and a strong freshman presence, there is nothing that the 2011 team cannot accomplish.”

Coach Libbra followed up with “I am so proud to be coaching this wonderful group of girls.  Their dedication to their sport and their team is something that still amazes me everyday!  We as coaches and players have come so far together.  There is nothing that this team of girls can’t do!”

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So if you are chomping at the bit to get outdoors and enjoy our early spring weather, no one would be more appreciative than these 2 coaches and their wonderful group of girls, for everyone to come out and enjoy the inaugural home opener at GHS Sports Complex on March 22 at 4:30 against Staunton!

Watching from the sidelines has never been so exciting as the times when we collectively as “Die Hard” soccer fans watch this team of girls beaming with pride at what THEY have built!  Good luck this season Lady Miners!

Tobi Libbra

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School board deals with personnel issues during special meeting

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Stephanie Bray

Meeting in special session Monday night, members of the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education accepted “with regrets” the resignation for purposes of retirement of Stephanie Bray, one of the district’s three technology integration specialists, effective June 4.

The board called a special session to deal with the apparently unexpected resignation before the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting later this month. However, board members tabled action on approving a revised job description for the Student Information System/Data Integration Specialist position, pending further discussion.

The board also tabled action on posting the newly created vacancy and tabled posting a district-level secretary’s position.

In February of 2022, the board accepted “with regrets” Bray’s announcement of her retirement “no later than the end of the 2025-26 school year.” There was no indication of why Bray moved her retirement date up by two years.

On a motion by Weye Schmidt, seconded by Amanda Ross, the board voted unanimously to accept Bray’s resignation. The action followed a 50-minute executive session to discuss personnel issues behind closed doors. The public portion of the meeting lasted less than 10 minutes.

In other action, the board voted to renew the district’s One Room contract to offer a remotely taught Spanish class to fulfill the district’s foreign language requirement for the 2024-25 school year. This will be the second year an off-site teacher will teach foreign language at GHS, using remote communication technology. Supt. Shane Owsley said the district had no applications for the vacant teaching position last year. This year, an applicant from Brazil explored the possibility of teaching in Gillespie but ultimately accepted a tutoring position at Greenville University. Owsley said hiring the applicant could have become cumbersome because she was not yet certificated to teach high school Spanish. He said he recently changed the job description from Spanish to foreign language to expand the pool of potential applicants.

In other personnel action, the board approved the maternity leave request of Amber Allan, BenGil Elementary physical education teacher, effective Aug. 28 through Jan. 20.

In separate actions, the board accepted Nathan Henrichs resignation as Gillespie High School freshman football coach, posted the position as vacant, and appointed Henrichs as a varsity assistant football coach. The board also voted unanimously to appoint Alex Jasper as an assistant freshman football coach. The board unanimously accepted Wayne Ireland’s resignation as a volunteer assistant football coach, and voted unanimously to appoint Jarrod Herron and hire Trenton Cleveland as volunteer assistant football coaches.

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The board voted unanimously to hire Michael Rodriguez as a high school volunteer assistant women’s basketball coach.

On a motion by Schmidt, seconded by Kelli Vesper, the board hired Alexis Ollis as a head cook and kitchen staff member, pending documentation of certification and a background check. The board also Brittany Hughes as a district kitchen staff worker, pending documentation of certification and background check.

On a motion by Vesper, the board voted unanimously to post a vacancy for a one-on-one paraprofessional aide.

Board members voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Jessica Kelly as a middle school assistant track and field coach and voted unanimously to hire Jay Weber as the high school head track and field coach.

The regular monthly meeting of the board is set for 6 p.m., Monday, June 24, at the district’s administrative office.

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Americana festival set for July 4 at Benld Park

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Jess Barker, The Lodge Brothers, and The New Prairie Drifters are set to take the stage at Benld City Park on Thursday, July 4 as part of the Americana Festival.

The music festival intends to celebrate the birthday and spirit of America with thriving local culture of music, food, and art. It is scheduled to begin at 12 noon and end at 6 pm.

Food will be available for purchase from The Barracks American Table, a new Gillespie restaurant, and skincare products will be available from Nature’s Bliss, a Benld gift shop.

The park is located at 305 North Main Street in Benld. Admission is free.

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Macoupin County Fair underway until Sunday

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Rides, tents, food trucks, music, animals, and plenty of other offerings fill the grounds at the Macoupin County Fair for the 172nd year. The fair is held June 4 through June 9 at the Macoupin County Fairground north of Carlinville.

The oldest county fair in Illinois, the Macoupin County Fair welcomes thousands of guests to the area and unites agriculture, family, and community. The fair continues through Sunday with highlights every evening.

The fair also meets the needs of families on a budget, for just $10 per person you get parking and all-access to the carnival rides. The cost-friendly fun draws in visitors and locals who get to embrace the county’s namesakes.

Tracy Lawrence and Walker Montgomery are set to take the stage Thursday evening, June 6, at 7:30pm. Friday evening features the tractor and truck pull, and Saturday evening is the crowd-favorite demolition derby.

The fair opens every morning at 8am and closes at 12 midnight. For a full list of schedule of events or to pre-pay for entry, visit the fair’s website here.

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