Orion grade school to adopt reading curriculum

Mindy Carls

C.R. Hanna Elementary School students will have a new reading curriculum for next year.

On Wednesday, April 20, the Orion school board approved spending up to $200,000 for Fountas & Pinnell materials. The publisher estimated the cost at $170,782, but since the materials will be packaged for classrooms, the extra money gives the district the opportunity to add another fourth grade section to keep class sizes low.

R.C. Lowe said that in his 15 years as principal, this was the first time the school had new reading material. A team of teachers and administrators has spent three years evaluating available packages.

Kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms will receive interactive read aloud packages. Also, kindergarten through third graders will receive guided reading collections and third and fourth graders will be in book clubs. Kindergarten, first and second grade students will have phonics programs, as will Response to Intervention students.

Faculty, staff changes

The board hired J.R. Greenwood as the Orion High School family and consumer sciences teacher and the FCCLA sponsor. He is replacing Tina Poel, who is retiring at the end of 2021-22. He is the owner of Maple Street Grill, Orion.

Colby Trone, hired earlier this year as the high school ag teacher, FFA sponsor, co-op coordinator and co-CTE director for next year, resigned effective immediately. Mitchel White resigned as OHS ag mechanics teacher effective at the end of the school year.

Anne Gustus, who had received a one-year appointment for those positions, will continue in them for 2022-23.

The board hired Brent Hutton as a math teacher and dean of students at OHS.

Board members accepted the retirement requests of OHS math teacher Shelly Hutton; Orion Middle School physical education teacher Natalie Weller and district secretary Sheri Schulenberg, all effective at the end of the 2025-26 school year.

Resignations were accepted from Deb Hamilton, paraprofessional, and Andrew Leatherman, custodian, effective immediately.

The board hired Ashley Krup as a full-time custodian for the rest of the year; Mindy Lillibridge as a part-time cook at C.R. Hanna Elementary School for 2022-23.

Sports coaching changes

Resignations were accepted from Tony Stiles, OHS girls basketball varsity coach, and Jeff Wiedenmann, Orion Middle School head cross country coach.

The board hired Brandie Comer at the head girls golf coach at OHS.

Volunteer coaches approved were Mike Mohr, OHS track, and Mary DeBaillie, OMS track.


A $27,000 bid from Fineline Designing & Building Solutions was accepted. The company will replace mismatched ceiling tiles and outdated tracking in the ceiling of the high school commons this summer.

Other summer projects at OHS include installing metal siding on the old weight room between the ag building and the concession stand. Jason West will pour concrete to widen sidewalks at Charger Field.

At OMS summer work will include painting classrooms.

Asbestos floor tile will be removed at C.R. Hanna. A gravel road through the east side blacktop playground is only temporary during renovation, and the playground will be replaced.

Door deadbolt devices will be installed in all classrooms in the district.

Student awards

The board presented certificates of merit to the state-qualifying OHS robotics team and coach Ray Parrish. Team members were Colin Essary, Kaitlyn Greenwood, Madison Greenwood, Micah Knox, Avery Monson, Eric Thorndyke, Mackinzie Washburn and the robot “Steve 2.”

OHS Principal Nathan DeBaillie announced Thorndyke is the third Orion student to receive a National Merit Scholarship. Only 50,000 students nationwide receive one.

OMS Principal Chad Bahnks said he chose Kyler Owens and Hayden Gehring for the Illinois Principals Association student leadership award and Max Larson and Maggie Dochterman as Prairieland Conference scholar athletes.

In other business

• An overnight trip to Chicago for band and choir students and chaperones on Thursday, June 2, and Friday, June 3, was approved. It replaces the proposed trip to Nashville and Memphis, which did not have enough interest among students.

• To match what other Three Rivers Conference schools are paying, the board approved higher rates of pay for baseball and softball officials. Umpires will receive $70 for a single game and $130 for a doubleheader.

• Board members renewed the high school’s membership in the Illinois High School Association. The IHSA has refunded the membership fee it charged for 2021-22 and has dropped the 2022-23 fee.

• The board accepted the milk bid from Enyeart Distributing for 2022-23. Enyeart submitted lower bids than Prairie Farms Dairy on three of the five items.

• A job description for the new position of media center coordinator at C.R. Hanna was approved. The coordinator will work 20 to 25 hours a week.

• To keep up with the goal of having one Chromebook per student, the district is replacing at least 350 of the ones it currently has. They last four to five years.

Orion High School