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High School Highlights

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Steve Robinson

Gov. Rauner Fields Questions From Normal West Students

  Gov. Bruce Rauner paid a visit to Normal Community West High School a couple weeks ago, touring classrooms and holding an assembly with students from various classes. That may not seem like news at times but seeing as most of the major events of the day’s visit got covered by daily media, I concentrated on what most people might not care about. I paid more attention to the questions the kids, some 250 of them from varying History and U. S. Government classes, posed to Gov. Rauner. The governor also held a news conference with local reporters to wrap up his day here.
Local dignitaries, such as members of the Unit 5 School Board and Town Council members, and the kids’ teachers gathered in the school auditorium to hear what the governor had to say. Before the session began, Normal West Principal David Johnson gave Gov. Rauner a tour of some of the classes to see the work students do every day.
  What I’m going to recap for you here are the questions the students asked and Gov. Rauner’s responses, but from my way of thinking, it was the questions the students asked that caught my interest, and I hope yours.
But before the kids got their questions in, Gov. Rauner led off the session which lasted close to an hour by telling students he loves touring schools because “educating students is the most important thing we do as a community.”
He said he was visiting Normal West for two reasons: The first was to thank the kids “for being hard-working students. Your school is highly regarded all around the State because of your hard work and dedication to your education. The big reason I’m here is to say thank you to your teachers. There is no more important job in America, and I want to make sure I show our respect and support, and increase our support for teachers.” Gov. Rauner then led the kids in a round of applause for the teachers.
Then he opened the floor for students’ questions. I don’t think any of the adults in the room knew what to expect, but the kids didn’t disappoint. They came across as though they had done their homework.
To one student’s question, Gov. Rauner said he was “fighting real hard to get more money for students in college who rely on Monetary Assistance Program, or MAP Grants to help pay for college. He reminded students “the State is basically broke and has a $5 billion deficit.” One way Gov. Rauner said he wants to reduce that deficit is to insert reforms into the State’s procurement program (he even defined and explained procurement for the kids). He said changing that system would help provide funds for MAP Grants. He said changing the State’s procurement system would save Illinois $500 million.
Another student asked Gov. Rauner what he was doing to change the perception people have of Illinois. He explained he loves the business he was running before he became governor and does not want to move it out of the state. And that is even though there are so many other companies who are fleeing the State because of the economic circumstances here.
Another student asked Gov. Rauner about which prompted him to tell students Illinois has fewer jobs now than it did 17 years ago (about the time most of these kids were born). But Gov. Rauner assured the students he was working to make sure there would be changes – such as putting a halt to deficit spending and considering new State taxes (although he was quick to say that second potential move wasn’t one he preferred).
“The key is growth,” Gov. Rauner told the students. We need to grow our economy. If we grow our economy, you guys will have a lot of great careers and jobs you can choose from. Families’ incomes will be rising, and we’ll have more tax revenue, just from the economic growth.”
Should that plan work, he said, “The State won’t have to raise tax rates.”
The kids’ questions resulted in all that with the governor speaking about 20 minutes before thanking them, and being escorted into a news conference with local reporters. The small group which included the governor moved from one session to the next with journalists following closely enough to hear him tell Johnson, “Those were great questions.”
I managed to get in the last question of the news conference and I asked him to elaborate on his comment to Johnson. Gov. Rauner’s reply to me: “I thought the kids’ questions were awesome.” Yes, he actually said that. He then added, “I’d like them to run for office, and use them in the legislature.” He said it appeared the kids put a lot of thought into their questions concerning the State’s continuing budget negotiations and growing the economy.
“Those were great questions,” he said in finishing his answer to the question. “I was very impressed with them.” Score one for the kids in that situation.
The Governor used his answer to my question to springboard into speaking about getting the State establishing structural reforms. Doing that, he said, would be “pro investment and pro job creation.” If that were to happen, the governor said, the State could see reforms within 18-24 months.
It sounds as though the kids not only went into that assembly ready to learn something, but they also made a good impression on Gov. Rauner. In addition to the other grades they will receive, for their thoroughness, the students should also get an ‘A’.

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Redbird Volleyball Announces 2016 Summer Camps
Registration for the 2016 Melissa Myers Redbird Volleyball Camps is open, as the ninth-year head coach of the Redbirds is set to host an All Skills Camp, July 8-10, and a Team Camp, July 23-24.
Interested campers can find all the information they will need, including registration information, at: http://abcsportscamps.com/isuvbcamps. Campers interested in registering via mail can find all necessary forms at GoRedbirds.com.
The All Skills Camp offers three days of instruction and competition, intended to teach players, grades 5-12, the fundamental skills and knowledge of the game. The Team Camp is designed for high school teams looking to put their team at an advantage ahead of the fall season. All campers will have the opportunity to play in a championship venue at Redbird Arena, host of the Illinois High School Association State Tournament.
Myers, who will enter her ninth season as Illinois State’s head volleyball coach in 2016, most recently led the Redbirds to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in 17 years. She led Illinois State to Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament-titles in 2014, and was named the MVC Coach of the Year, as well as the American Volleyball Coaches Association North Region Coach of the Year.
For more information about Melissa Myers Redbird Volleyball Camps, contact Ryan Patty at (309) 438-0703 or rpatty@ilstu.edu.

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