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#1StudentNWI: River Forest delegation takes over State House; new season for the Ingots

What’s Happening: Youth & Government

On February 22, the River Forest delegation traveled to the Indiana State House to participate in the annual YMCA Indiana Youth & Government Model Government Conference in Indianapolis. The nine River Forest students who participated each presented their own bills and debated bills from other delegates.

Friday night, students presented their bills in committee, where they were voted on and ranked according to their score. Saturday morning, the list of bills was revealed, with the highest scoring bills on top. This year, River Forest students authored seven of the top 15 bills in the House of Representatives, which saw 46 bills total. Also, River Forest students authored two of the top seven bills in the Senate, which saw 23 bills total.

“The work they all put in to get ready for this conference really paid off. I could not be more proud of this group,” said Christine Barnes, delegation advisor. "This is the highest our delegation’s bills have been ranked in the history of attending this conference.”

The legislative session began that morning and continued throughout the day. Authors presented each bill and debated it before all the delegates voted on the bill. For a bill to be passed, it must be passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate chambers, and be signed by the youth governor.

After presenting their bills, Anthony Hand, Destiney Pratchett, Monse Alaniz, Hailey Bianco, Lexie Espinoza, Marlin Walker and Judah Lewis all got their bills signed into INYaG law. Unfortunately, two River Forest bills did not pass. The delegation put in a lot of work and research, and their success at the conference was well deserved. While none of the bills were actually signed into Indiana law, since it is model government, several bills were observed by actual representatives and senators. In the end, the future of our country is in good hands because of this program and future leaders.

What's Coming Up: Spring Sports

The beginning of March is the official preseason for most spring sports, with the exception of track, which has been underway for the past month. Softball has their first official practice on the first Monday of May, while the rest of spring sports -- baseball, tennis, and golf -- has their first official practice on the second Monday.

The boys and girls track teams will be the first to start their season. The girls track team, led by second-year head coach Lauren Erickson, will travel to Bishop Noll on May 11 for an indoor track meet. The boys team, led by first-year head coach Joe O’Connell, will follow on Tuesday. Both teams will begin their outdoor season in early April.

River Forest softball will begin shortly after as they host Illiana Christian for a friendly scrimmage on March 23. The following week they will host John Glenn High School on March 30, for the first regular season game. With a large group of returning players, a strong senior class, and the direction of Gil Arzola and Denny King, the team is working hard to make huge improvements from last season, and the results are already showing.

The baseball team starts April 1 team will takes on Whiting for their season opener for a conference matchup. After coming off an impressive showing last year, the group hopes to pick up where they left off and build on that momentum.

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Right after the baseball team’s first game, the girls tennis team will compete in their first match at Calumet High School on April 2. Second-year head coach Danielle VanderTill hopes to lead her team to another successful season, after last year’s team had one of the best season in years.

The golf team starts their season next. In years past the golf team had only one to two golfers, but coach Matthew Wendell has been gradually building his team to reach a full roster. On April 10, the team will travel to Bishop Noll Institute to compete against Bishop Noll and Wheeler at the Greater South Shore Conference tri-meet.

Student Spotlight

Lexie Espinoza is a senior at River Forest and brings a lot of positive energy to everything she does. Espinoza is an enthusiastic member of the varsity cheerleading team, yearbook staff, and advanced girls’ choir. She is also a familiar face as co-host on the “Ingot News,” River Forest’s daily video announcements.

Espinoza isn’t exactly sure what her future will hold right after graduation in June. But she does know that she wants to make a career out of photography, and her dream would be to start her own photography business.

“I’ve always love photography because it allows me to capture the big and sometimes even little moments for them to look back on and cherish forever,” Espinoza said.

As a freshman, Espinoza took her first step as a photography entrepreneur, with her home-grown AE Photography, sharing her work with the community. Through the years she has developed many skills and has been booked for senior pictures, weddings, baby photos, and other photo sessions.

Teacher Spotlight

Jack Burton has been a mathematics teacher at River Forest since early 2000 and is the “guru of the math department.” Burton also has been a mathematics instructor at Indiana University Northwest since 2000. In past years at River Forest, he served as the head varsity football, track, golf, and freshman basketball coach throughout the years.

“I want my students to be empowered, independent, and confident leaders when they leave here,” Burton said.

Burton graduated from River Forest High School in 1987. In 1991 he graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science in Math Education. He later earned a master’s degree from Indiana University Northwest in 1999.

Burton is an outgoing teacher who strives to make relationships with his students and make them smile in and out of his class.  

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