U-46 board honors 10 student musicians

Board’s ‘Accent on Achievement’ program also recognizes Board Certified Teachers

Ten Elgin Area School District U-46 high school students were recognized by the board on Monday, March 18, with an “Accent on Achievement” for their outstanding achievements as musicians.

Eight of the students participated in the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) competitive audition process to be named All-State Musicians, the highest musical achievement for high schoolers in Illinois. Selected students performed at the ILMEA’s annual music education conference in Peoria in late January.

The other two students being honored were selected to play in the pit orchestra of the All-State Production of “She Kills Monsters” on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal in early January. The students submitted audition recordings to the Illinois High School Theatre Festival and were selected from hundreds of submissions from around the state.

“We offer robust musical programs and opportunities to students in U-46,” said Jaimie Giraldo, U-46 Coordinator of Fine Arts. “Our dedicated music teachers provide inspiration and guidance, and these talented students are turning into superior musicians.”

The board recognized the following students with “Accent on Achievement” certificates:

Bartlett High School: Kara Hagan, senior, All-State Chorus, Tenor

Elgin High School: Seniors Anthony “Ira” Cortes and Edward Power, Future Music Educators Symposium

Larkin High School: Ayaka Vieira, sophomore, All-State Orchestra, Violin; Aidan Klapperich, sophomore, All-State Band, Trombone

South Elgin High School: Ruby Montgomery, junior, Honors Chorus, Soprano I; Isabella Huynh, senior, All-State Chorus, Soprano I; and Kiera Moore, senior, All-State Chorus, Alto II

Streamwood High School: David Burmann, junior, All-State Production, Pit Orchestra, Clarinet and Bass Clarinet; and Sarah Beth Ballenger, junior, All-State Production, Pit Orchestra, Violin

South Elgin High English teacher Brittany Hennessey, far left, is honored by the U-46 board on Monday, March 18, for becoming a National Board Certified Teacher, the highest credential in the teaching profession. Gisselle Moreira, second from left, a Hillcrest Elementary fourth-grade Dual Language teacher, was honored for renewing her certification. Superintendent Suzanne Johnson, far right, and board member Kate Thommes, are also pictured. Courtesy of Elgin Area School District U-46

In addition, South Elgin High School English teacher Brittany Hennessey was honored for becoming a National Board Certified Teacher, the highest credential in the teaching profession.

“I always look for ways to improve my teaching, and I pursued the National Board Certification as a personal challenge for myself,” Hennessey said. “It helped me to be a more reflective teacher and to verbalize the why of what I'm teaching.”

National Board Certification is a self-reflective form of professional learning that defines and recognizes accomplished teaching. The initial certification can take a teacher one to three years to complete; a teacher must go through a process to maintain their certificate every five years to keep it active.

Gisselle Moreira, a fourth-grade Dual Language teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School, was also recognized for recently renewing her National Board Certification.


U-46 serves families in 11 communities: Bartlett, Elgin, Hanover Park, South Elgin, Streamwood and Wayne, as well as portions of Carol Stream, Hoffman Estates, St. Charles, Schaumburg, and West Chicago. In total, the district encompasses 90 square miles within the Fox River Valley, approximately 45 minutes west of downtown Chicago, and includes communities within Cook, DuPage and Kane counties. More than 34,000 preschoolers through 12th graders attend the 55 district schools and programs. To learn more, visit, or follow the district on Facebook and Twitter.

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