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Stagg’s health team poses with the District 230 board at it was honored for winning its fourth straight Blue Ribbon award. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Stagg’s health team poses with the District 230 board at it was honored for winning its fourth straight Blue Ribbon award. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Stagg health team earns fourth straight Blue Ribbon award

By Jeff Vorva

District 230 Supt. Robert Nolting likened the Stagg Health Education department to the New England Patriots.

For the fourth straight year, Stagg won the Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence in Education from the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Staff members said Stagg was the first school in Illinois to win four straight awards.

The group was honored at the Dec. 16 board meeting and Division Chair Douglas Bozych said he was happy with this winning streak.

“We have an amazing team,” Bozych said. “Over the last year, we met as a group and compiled the materials that we do day in and day out from a curricular process and how our program stems outward and reaches all different aspects of our building. We work together for students’ health and well-being not only from the time they are with us, but for the rest of their lives.”

Members of the team are Mary Gaido, Abby Degilomini, Jordan Kelley, Jacob O’Connor, Vanessa Smurzynski, Kristin Pila and Brian Jackson.

Bozych said the school invited members of the IAHPDERF to watch the teachings in the classrooms and to get a grasp on what Stagg does in this field.

Teen mental health is a big concern for this group and Stagg partnered with the Illinois Department of Behavioral Health and singer Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. Stagg was one of eight schools in the nation to pilot a teen heath first aid training program, Bozych said.

He added that every student in the school’s health education department receives five days of training on recognizing signs of mental health crisis and learning the appropriate procedure for seeking professional help.

The Stagg team also partners with Moraine Valley Community College to allow students to earn dual credits toward a medical terminology course and begin working toward EMT certification.

Another initiative for winning the award was the way Stagg worked during the pandemic to expand their skills to engage and increase student participation and learn to meet the challenges in the future.

Nolting pens letter to state officials

Nolting sent a letter on behalf of the district to Governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike and State Board of Education Supt. Carmel Ayala urging the state to allow the schools to reopen for in-person learning.

Nolting said that CDC guidance continue to place schools in the “non-essential” category and are less important than the airline industry, bars/restaurants and retail services.

“My students staying in school is more important than making sure someone’s flight is not cancelled,” he wrote. “My staff remining in their roles as teachers, support staff and administration is a more important thing than making sure we have enough bartenders, wait staff or cooks.

“To have a flight cancelled or my favorite restaurant close early is inconvenient and frustrating. To have my kids learn from a computer isolated at home is a travesty and continues to cycle into mental health crisis, increase in suicidal ideation and increased substance abuse among students.”

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