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posted: 5/24/2016 5:30 AM

Hanover Township recognizes U-46 principal

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Hanover Township recently named Laurel Hill Elementary School Principal Luis Fernando De León its 2016 Principal of the Year.

Students and staff members at the Hanover Park school of nearly 550 students say he inspires them daily through his positive leadership and high expectations.

"Mr. De León gently pushes us to be better and sees the best in all of us," said Nicole Barder, a social worker at the school. "For the benefit of our students, Mr. De León has united the community and created an atmosphere that welcomes active involvement from our parents and community partners. He has and continues to transform our school from the 'little school with the big heart' to the 'little school with an even bigger heart.'"

De León was among eight community youth and adult leaders recognized Tuesday for their leadership and service as positive role models.

The award -- part of Hanover Township's Committee on Youth annual Celebration of Leadership -- is given to a principal from a township school, including primary, secondary, alternative education and private schools. Nominees must serve as an example to others, create positive change, be actively involved and take initiative.

"Principal De León provides great leadership that is positive and has a 360-degree focus on students' learning with meaningful engagement of their families and the surrounding community to support and enhance learning," Hanover Township Trustee Craig Essick said. "Principal De León has rebranded Laurel Hill Elementary School and created new systems and structures to advance learning through increasing parental involvement, growing all-staff professional development opportunities and linking community resources to his school to support the whole child in the learning process."

De León became principal at Laurel Hill three years ago, and before that served as an administrative intern at Harriet Gifford Elementary School. From 2006-2012, he taught at Nature Ridge Elementary School and also held leadership roles in the private sector.

He holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from the Universidad Autonoma Agraria Antonio Narro in Saltillo, Mexico, and a master's degree in teaching from Aurora University. He also is pursuing his doctorate in curriculum and instruction through Aurora University.

Registration for S.A.F.E. program now open:

Enrollment for before- and after-school care for students of Elgin Area School District U-46 schools for the 2016-17 school year is now underway.

Parents of kindergartners through sixth-graders can take advantage of this program while at work or furthering their education during the school year.

The S.A.F.E. -- Supervised Activities for Children of Employed Parents -- program allows students to participate in arts and crafts projects, organized games and computer activities while waiting for school to start or waiting to be picked up from school. It also offers homework assistance as needed and time in a gym or the outdoor playground.

Students will receive breakfast through the Food and Nutrition Services department and an afternoon snack is provided during after-school care.

Online registration will be accepted throughout the year. S.A.F.E is offered at the following elementary schools:

• Morning and afternoon: Bartlett Century Oaks, Clinton (morning at Willard), Coleman, Creekside, Fox Meadow, Hanover Countryside, Harriet Gifford, Hawk Hollow, Highland (morning at Harriet Gifford; afternoon at Hillcrest), Hillcrest (morning at Harriet Gifford), Huff (at Coleman), Liberty (morning at Nature Ridge), Lincoln, Lords Park (at Coleman), Lowrie (at Harriet Gifford), McKinley (at Coleman), Nature Ridge, Otter Creek, Prairieview, Spring Trail, Washington (at Harriet Gifford), and Willard.

• Afternoon only -- Glenbrook, Hilltop, Horizon, Ridge Circle (at Glenbrook), Sycamore Trails, Timber Trails (at Hilltop), and Wayne.

For more information, visit u-46.org.

Top finishers at IHSA journalism contest:

Several suburban high schools placed among the top 10 finishers in the Illinois High School Association Journalism State Final held recently in Charleston, Illinois.

Stevenson, Naperville Central and South Elgin high schools placed second, third and fourth, respectively, out of 78 participating schools. Wheeling and Downers Grove South tied for sixth place, while Huntley and Glenbrook South placed eighth and ninth, respectively.

South Elgin's medal winners are: Anna Lee Ackermann, first place for broadcast news; Brian Nguyen, second place for yearbook layout double-page spread and fifth place for newspaper design; and Alex August and Amaya Jungers, fourth place for yearbook theme development. The team is coached by Kari Botkin, newspaper adviser, and Anne Wilkinson, yearbook adviser.

Huntley's medal winners are: Camille Paddock, second place for feature writing; Mawa Iqbal, sixth place for news writing; Bri Governale, fifth place for yearbook layout double-page spread; and Bri Governale and Jessica Espinoza, second place for yearbook theme development.

For complete results, visit speechwire.com.

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