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Barrington Community Unit School District 220 is looking to get more Barrington High students back in the building for full-time in-person classes.

“We have plenty of space at (Barrington High School),” Superintendent Brian Harris said during a school board meeting. “We’ve had a lot of kids that originally reported they were going to come in person and did not. They have changed their position and have chosen now to be in full remote.”

The district reopened the school for in-person learning Jan. 19, using a hybrid model in which students alternated between attending class in the building and virtually.

However, a recent attendance study shows that, particularly among high school students, there’s a gap between those who said they wanted to attend in person and those who actually show up.

In the study, district officials looked at two days in which different groups of students were expected to be in the schools. Those numbers were then compared to actual attendance.

For early learning and elementary students, the percentage of attendance was near what officials expected — 92% for early learners and 96% for elementary students. In the middle schools, 84% of the students planned for were in the building. But in the high school, the actual attendance was just 68% of what was expected.

Read on here.

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Scotty Miller, a wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, poses with St. Viator grad and Bears rookie tight end Cole Kmet after the Bears beat the Bucs Oct. 8 at Soldier Field. The two played on the same team in the Barrington Youth Football League. – COURTESY OF SCOTTY MILLER

Kids start playing sports and they dream. They dream of making the big play. They dream of playing in the big game.

Scotty Miller no longer has to dream, unless it’s about putting a Super Bowl ring on his finger.

The 2015 Barrington High School graduate had dreams come true last week. He not only caught a touchdown pass in the NFC Championship Game, he got to celebrate a moment that helped his team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, reach the big game.

Big game as in Super Bowl LV.

With seconds left in the first half against Green Bay at Lambeau Field, Miller, a second-year wide receiver, beat his defender and hauled in a 39-yard TD pass from Tom Brady to put Tampa ahead 21-10. The Bucs would eventually hold off the Packers, 31-26, and they will face Kansas City Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the first time in Super Bowl history a team plays the game in its home stadium.

“I’m super excited,” Miller said two days after the big catch from his Tampa home. “I can’t really grasp it yet. I just show up to work every day and I get to play in the NFL. Being in the Super Bowl is very special and I feel very fortunate.”

Read more here.

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Because so many students at Barrington High School are choosing all-virtual learning, seniors who had chosen hybrid learning now have the option to go full day, five days a week, and juniors can expect the same soon, officials said. (Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer)

Barrington High School junior Austin Molinaro knew that going back to in-person learning was going to be different, what with face masks, social distancing and all the rest. He didn’t expect it to be so disheartening.

“I’m not going to lie — it wasn’t fun at all … ” Austin said. “It just felt like a ghost town when you were walking through the hallways.”

 Students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 had the option of starting hybrid learning last week — meaning alternately going to school and learning from home — or sticking with all-virtual learning. Austin is among a minority who returned to Barrington High.

The district has had all-virutal learning this year with the exception of a few days in October. High school Principal Steve McWilliams said families who said they preferred in-person learning dropped from 75% last summer, to just over 60% in October, to 46% in December. For seniors, it’s about 40%, he said.

Because so many are staying home, the district announced Friday that seniors at Barrington High now have the option to go full-day, five days a week. Juniors can expect to have the same option soon, McWilliams said.

So why are so many students, especially seniors, choosing to stay home? A variety of reasons, McWilliams said, adding the same is happening at other suburban high schools.

Read more here.

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“Dear Barrington 220 Community: 

First, I want to thank you for your cooperation and patience this week as we successfully implemented Hybrid 2.0. It has been wonderful to see students and staff back together in our school buildings. I also want to acknowledge those families who have chosen to continue with Distance Learning full time, specifically the families and staff at the elementary level, some of whom have successfully navigated new classroom assignments as well as other adjustments. 

As long as we continue wearing our maskswashing our hands, and watching our distance I am confident that the second half of this school year will look much different than the last few months. We are constantly considering opportunities for students to be in our buildings more often. In fact, beginning on Monday, Jan. 25 Barrington High School is ready to invite ALL SENIORS who wish to attend school in person, for five days a week for a full day.

This change at BHS comes after a significant number of high school students and families recently shifted their learning selection from in-person to Distance Learning. These shifts have created the opportunity to allow in-person students to attend more regularly. The high school and other schools in the district will continue monitoring attendance numbers to pursue additional opportunities in the coming weeks and months to get students back in our buildings more often.

Finally, we will continue to advocate with the IDPH and the IHSA to allow co-curricular activities to resume. At this time all low and medium-risk IHSA sports have been approved to resume. We will continue to maximize our students’ participation in co-curricular activities as the situation evolves.  

Have a good weekend!” 

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Adepero Oduye is shown in a scene from the R-rated movie “Pariah,” which is included as an option for film class at Barrington High School.

The mother of a senior at Barrington High School complained to the school board about a movie students watched that portrays a sex toy.

School officials said they take the complaint seriously, but emphasized that students always have a choice about what to watch for the film class.

Heather Ewalt lodged her complaint in a voicemail that was played as part of public comment during the Barrington Area Unit District 220 board meeting held via Zoom on Tuesday night.

Ewalt’s comments focused on what she called “reckless incompetence” from Superintendent Brian Harris for keeping students in distance learning. She mentioned the movie’s depiction of a sex toy as an example of Harris’ failed leadership, she told the Daily Herald.

The 2011 R-rated movie “Pariah” is a coming-of-age story of a Black lesbian teenager, a theme that Ewalt said she doesn’t have a problem with. But she objected to some of the film’s scenes, including one in which the main character wears the sex toy (“dildo” was the term used).

“I have an issue with the hyper-sexualization of our children,” she said. “This is high school, it isn’t college. I wouldn’t even want to watch it in college, but I’m conservative.”

Ewalt’s son watched the movie at home because he’s learning remotely, and her three younger children could have caught glimpses of it, she said. “I hope they didn’t,” she said.

Read more here.

Ewalt’s public comments via voicemail can be heard here.

Related:FIRE D220 Superintendent Brian Harris” signs seen in Barrington

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Margaret Rajic, Portrait photography by Alisha Tova

A recent sunny Tuesday afternoon found Rajic trotting through the fields of Barrington Hills aboard a chestnut gelding from Oakwood Farms. “I had always wanted to ride. Last September I decided to start lessons,” says Rajic.

Growing up in Barrington, most days in the early 2000s one could find Rajic in Barrington High School’s dark room—giving her the foundation from which she eventually launched her successful interior design photography business. After college, Rajic was unfulfilled by the work she was doing. So, she picked up her camera again and began taking photos of friends, mainly engagement shoots and portraits.

The opportunity soon presented itself for her to photograph real estate listings, but shooting interiors is not for everyone. “The work is tedious, with a hyper focused attention to detail that lends itself to a very specific way of shooting. It takes a lot of patience, and I love it,” effuses Rajic. Recognizing within herself a passion for photographing interiors, Rajic reached out to Barrington interior designer, Kate Marker, whose children Rajic used to babysit. Meeting at Cook Street Coffee on East Station Street in town, Marker and Rajic chatted all things interiors with Marker agreeing to hire Rajic for smaller photography jobs as she got her photography business off the ground and honed her craft.

An entrepreneur at heart, Rajic began connecting with businesses she identified as—like herself—just starting out. Their limited start-up budgets allowed them to hire Rajic, which in turn served to build her portfolio. One weekend, “my Mom spent at a New Buffalo cottage whose VRBO pictures did not match the way she described it,” states Rajic. “I took a chance and reached out to the cottage owner to see if I could trade a weekend trip for new photographs.” Through business- savvy moves like this, Rajic identified opportunities through which to build her now robust portfolio. Social media also played a key role in business growth. Using Instagram as a research tool, Rajic thought “who could I work with that I could benefit from and I can add value to them?” Smart steps like this, along with the ever-present photo credit tagging on Instagram sped along the growth of her business. “The average work week for me in the beginning,” says Rajic, “was typically 70 to 80 hours a week.”

Read on here.

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District 220 released the following via email this morning:

“Over the past several weeks district leaders have been meeting regularly to identify ways to adjust Hybrid plans so improvements can be implemented when the metrics improve and the district can return to the Hybrid mode. Both staff and parent representatives from each school also participated in many of these conversations. At the Dec. 1 Board meeting, principals presented the updated Hybrid plans to Board members, as well as estimated additional costs associated with implementing these plans. The Board will continue the discussion at their Dec. 15 meeting. Please note that a target date to return to Hybrid has not been determined at this time.

The proposed Hybrid changes for each level are as follows:

Elementary Hybrid updates

In the elementary Hybrid plan students would attend school in-person five days a week, for 2.5 hours each day. Those 2.5 hours would focus on literacy, math and social emotional learning. Students would still be divided into two groups, “Group A” and Group B”. Group A would attend in-person instruction in the mornings and Group B would attend in-person instruction in the afternoons. Families who wish to continue with Distance Learning would follow their current learning schedule.

Tentative elementary timeline

  • Dec 15: Board discusses costs associated with updated Hybrid plans
  • Dec 16: Elementary principals hold virtual parent meetings to explain updated Hybrid plans
  • Dec 16-22: District sends out parent questionnaire to elementary parents on model preference
  • Jan 8 -15: Elementary principals finalize any classroom assignment changes
  • TBD: One week operational transition for students, parents and staff
  • TBD: Two transition days prior to implementing Hybrid mode

Middle and high school Hybrid updates

In the middle and high school Hybrid plansstudents would remain in two groups, “Group A” and “Group B”. However, it would include Wednesdays as an additional in-person instruction day. For example, one week Group A would be in person all day Monday-Wednesday, while Group B would be in person all day Thursday-Friday. The following week Group A would be in person Monday-Tuesday and Group B would be in person Wednesday-Friday. Students who choose to continue Distance Learning would continue to follow the schedule they are currently following.”

220 also released a “School Year Update” video summary that can be viewed here.

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Encouraged by the early success of a new $1.3 million COVID-19 saliva screening program, officials at New Trier High School are considering an expansion of their in-person student instruction plan.

The school board on Tuesday will vote on the timeline for an expanded reopening plan that would increase from the current model of one “track” of students attending classes in-person each day, to two tracks, New Trier spokeswoman Niki Dizon said Monday.

While each track is divided into roughly a quarter of the students who opted into hybrid learning, the actual attendance numbers have fallen below 25%, and officials estimate the same will hold true with two tracks being less than 50%, Dizon said. .

The proposal to expand the amount of in-person student instruction at the high school’s campuses in Winnetka and Northfield has been embraced by some parents, who have been pushing for more classroom learning since the start of the school year, with some suggesting that all students should attend a half day of school each day.

New Trier, which reopened for one week in October, was briefly shuttered again, then resumed its in-person hybrid plan in November. The school recently launched a voluntary COVID-19 saliva screening program, with around 88% of the high school’s roughly 4,000 students participating, officials said.

Read more here, and notice nowhere in the article is the word “metrics” mentioned.  

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The Barrington High School Fine Arts Department invites you to its fall play, “An evening of Edgar Allan Poe” playing beginning tomorrow night at BHS.

Community members can attend the drive-in performance to view it on screen from the BHS parking lot on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7pm. In addition, the performance will be streaming online on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31.

Click here to purchase tickets.

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is sponsoring a regional drive-through and walk-up COVID-19 test site outside in the Barrington High School parking lot. The testing will take place on Saturday, Oct. 10 from 9am-5pm and Sunday, Oct. 11 from 9am-5pm. 

Click here for more information.

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