Quincy School Board meeting filled with 'feel-good' accomplishments by students

Posted: Feb. 21, 2013 12:44 pm Updated: Mar. 14, 2013 2:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Quincy School Board member Stephanie Erwin said Wednesday's monthly board meeting "was probably one of the best feel-good meetings I've had since I've been on the board."

The meeting was full of good news and pats on the back for students doing great things.

"That's what it's all about," Erwin said.

The half-hour before the 7 p.m. board meeting was set aside to spotlight Dewey Elementary School's recent Kindness and Justice Challenge.

The presentation in the round room at Baldwin Intermediate School highlighted some of the activities that took place at Dewey during the weeklong challenge, which encouraged students in kindergarten through third grade to perform acts of kindness or good deeds for others.

Once the meeting started, the district's director of music, Kathi Dooley, individually introduced all 25 Quincy High School students who were recently named Illinois All-State Musicians. The students received a standing ovation from the audience.

Then QHS wrestling coach Phil Neally spent a few minutes applauding the accomplishments of senior Dakota Downs, who placed fifth in the 170-pound weight class in last weekend's Illinois High School Association state wrestling tournament.

Neally noted how Downs had placed first in all 14 tournaments the team traveled to this year and set a school record for the most wins in the 170-pound weight division -- 43. Downs also finished his career by claiming a spot in the top five all-time pins and winning percentage in the history of QHS wrestling.

"Dakota has made us proud of his wrestling accomplishments. But as his coach, he has made me proud because he exemplifies the true multi-student athlete," Neally said before Downs was given a standing ovation.

The School Board then heard a public relations report from Katie Schelp and Mindy Holthaus, two community volunteers who have taken it upon themselves to spread the word about good things happening in Quincy's schools.

"We kept hearing so many wonderful things about what was going on in our schools, and we wanted to make sure that everyone else was hearing them," Schelp told the board.

Schelp and Holthaus then introduced Ben Dombroski, a second-year teacher at QHS who led an effort to create a new leadership course for QHS students. The course started last fall for 30 students interested in enhancing their communication skills, social awareness and ability to speak out on issues.

"We have so many great students at QHS, and they want to see positive change happen at QHS, but they didn't have an outlet to do it," Dombroski said.

The leadership class has provided that outlet, giving students a chance to get involved in leading certain school activities while learning about great leaders in history.

"The class is incredibly awesome," Gabrielle Green, a junior involved in the program, told the School Board.

"The leadership class has impacted how I handle different situations," she said. "It's impacted my life, and I'm just one person out of the 30 who can be a witness to say that."