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Uni High update from Uni Interim Director Elizabeth Majerus

As I head in to my eighth month as Uni's interim director, I'd like to share updates on our efforts to connect with the C-U community, open our doors to students from underrepresented groups, and test drive a new daily schedule.

Uni continues to reach out to the wider Champaign-Urbana community and beyond in a wide variety of faculty- and student-led programs and projects (many of which I highlighted for a North Attic full of alumni at the annual State of the School address at the start of the ReUNIon and Gala weekend address last October). We also have an array of collaborations ongoing between Uni students and teachers and our U of I campus community.

We are currently focused on a renewed effort to increase our enrollment and support of historically underrepresented groups at Uni. Increasing equity and inclusion at Uni is one of my main goals as interim director, and the faculty has been strong in their support of this goal. This year we’ve made efforts to promote Uni more widely throughout the C-U community, and we’ve begun reevaluating and updating our application and admissions practices in an effort to make the process accessible to more students from all backgrounds. We’re also working actively on ideas and plans to increase curricular and social-emotional support for underrepresented students, and we are already seeing how creating those additional supports will help us serve all our students better.

The Uni administration and faculty have been hammering out a consensus on a new daily schedule model that we will implement on a trial basis for at least two semesters, starting next fall. This trial schedule will include a later start time, inspired by a mountain of recent evidence that teenagers need more sleep and that later school start times help them get more sleep. (This evidence includes recommendations from both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics that secondary schools should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.). The trial schedule will also include some element of block scheduling, which will incorporate longer class periods one or more times a week to facilitate more project-based learning, problem solving, and hands-on lessons.

 Independent study students in Uni's new Maker pace.
 Independent study students in Uni's new Maker pace.

Uni's new Maker Space inspires independent study

Uni gained a Makerspace last year as part of our Chem lab overhaul, and the space has already inspired two students to participate in an independent study under the supervision of Computer Science Executive Teacher Joel Beesley.

During the spring semester, sophomores Jacob Allen and Andrew Lin are participating in an Independent Study in the MakerSpace after using the space last year during a Computer Literacy course. They enjoyed working with and on the 3D printers. 

The MakerSpace in Uni is used by many departments.  Students from science, technology, social studies, arts and mathematics can be found working on projects throughout the day.  Currently there is no particular staff member assigned to oversee this space and the equipment.

The students will assist in maintaining the lab space equipment while also:

  • Preparing written guides for use of equipment
  • Offer training for students and staff hoping to use the space.
  • Troubleshoot equipment problems
  • Ensure supplies are properly stocked for use
  • Install new equipment (in conjunction with staff oversight)

Introducing Janet Kroencke, Associate Director for Advancement

Janet Kroencke has joined University of Illinois Laboratory High School as the Associate Director for Advancement. She is no stranger to the University of Illinois, having served more than 20 years on campus in Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Advancement.

Kroencke is looking forward to getting to know our students, faculty/staff, alumni and donors, while building on Uni's strong foundation of giving and alumni involvement. She  will be in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas February 26-29, visiting Uni High Alumni and attending the University of Illinois “ILLINI Days” event.

You can contact Janet Kroencke at 217-333-0232 or via email at jlk@illinois.edu.


German students win video contest; class hears from Holocaust survivor

German 3 students Stefania, Bronwyn, Serenity, Lara, and Rowan won first place in a nationwide contest titled First Encounters: Menschen begegnen sich. Thank you to everyone at Uni who supported them! Their research video submission on German immigration to Champaign County is available on the American Association of Teachers of German website, and you can view it below:

 Dr. William Gingold shares the story of his family's escape from the Warsaw Ghetto with the German 4 class. This was the first time Gingold has publicly shared his story.
 Dr. William Gingold shares the story of his family's escape from the Warsaw Ghetto with the German 4 class. This was the first time Gingold has publicly shared his story.

New German teacher Jenny Robins also introduced students to community member Dr. William Gingold, who shared his story for the first time of his family's escape from the Warsaw Ghetto. Gingold shared the story of his family’s escape, their time in a camp in Russia, his experience in a DP camp, and, finally, his family’s journey to the U.S. where they settled in Milwaukee. Robins has been bringing in community members to share their personal stories to help students better understand this difficult period in German history.