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Pandemic’s impact on PHS activities reviewed

Awards Night held virtually, materials turned in at curbside

Princeton High School is at 103 S. Euclid Ave. in Princeton. Principal Andy Berlinski reported on how end-of-year activities were conducted in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic at Wednesday's school board meeting.
Princeton High School is at 103 S. Euclid Ave. in Princeton. Principal Andy Berlinski reported on how end-of-year activities were conducted in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic at Wednesday's school board meeting.

PRINCETON — The continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown of in-person school classes and activities at Princeton High School was evident in the principal’s report discussed at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

Principal Andy Berlinski said the school still held an Awards Night on May 11, but it was conducted virtually over the school’s YouTube channel.

“I believe the virtual show provided a great showcase for our students and all they’ve accomplished,” Berlinski stated. He praised staff members Elena Hilmes and Steve Morton for their efforts to make it happen.

From May 18 to 21, students and parents dropped off school materials at the curbside that they needed to return, Berlinski stated. The items are being stored in the cafeteria until the recommended time for decontamination has passed.

Students were also allowed to collect personal belongings from their lockers, while adhering to social-distancing requirements.

“Thank you to all of the staff members who helped with this project. They did a great job keeping everything organized,” Berlinski stated.

PHS staffers met with Berlinski via a Zoom teleconference on May 22 to share thoughts on preparations for the next school year.

“Given all the variables, we are focusing on preparing for traditional, virtual and a blended format of instruction,” he stated.

He said the Illinois State Board of Education doesn’t plan to release guidance on the 2020-21 academic year anytime soon. “Obviously, there are a lot of unknowns right now,” he said.

Berlinski also talked about a Friday Night Lights Encore held on Friday, May 15, with the lights turned on at Bryant Field and a senior parade through town afterward.

Yard signs were placed on the football field for the event, with each one bearing the name of a graduating senior and placed in a similar location to where they would have sat had graduation been able to be held the following day.

“Thank you to all of our staff members who volunteered to deliver those signs to senior yards the following morning,” Berlinski said.

Board President Colleen Sailer and member Gary Hanna offered congratulations on the school’s handling of its end-of-year activities during the pandemic.

“I was very happy things went as well as they did,” Hanna said via video hookup.

In the assistant principal’s report, Jeff Ohlson said student participation on e-learning and distance learning remained at the 85 to 86 percent level until May 1, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker canceled the remainder of the school year.

“After the governor’s announcement, there was a dip in most of the state,” Ohlson said.

At PHS, student participation declined to about 75 percent for the rest of May, he said.

Upon the recommendation of Superintendent Kirk Haring, the board approved the low bid of $62,400 by U.S. Tennis Court Construction of Lockport to repair cracks and color coat the school’s tennis courts.

Haring said the repaired cracks in the surface will have a five-year guarantee. While repairs are being done, the courts won’t be available for use by students or community members.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the appointment of Jessica Bryant as art teacher.

• Approved the resignations of Cynthia Smucker as art teacher and Lisa Sprouse as STEP coordinator.

• Approved a commercial insurance package in the amount of $57,156.

• Approved the 2020-21 PHS Student Handbook.

• Approved the annual audit fee of $11,000 for Hopkins and Associates, which is an increase of $650 compared to last year.

• Tabled action on leasing two 71-passenger buses for five years from Midwest Bus Sales at a cost of $12,361 per year. Haring said the district is awaiting additional information on what the student transportation needs will look like in the fall.

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