Hillsboro City Schools superintendent Tim Davis honored district volunteers Shawn Conlon (left photo) and Dave and Lisa Dietrick (right photo) during Monday's school board meeting. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Hillsboro City Schools superintendent Tim Davis honored district volunteers Shawn Conlon (left photo) and Dave and Lisa Dietrick (right photo) during Monday's school board meeting. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
The majority of the Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education’s Monday, Nov. 21 meeting was spent honoring various individuals, as board members, administrators and even a member of the community praised the district’s volunteers, students and teachers for their efforts.

Continuing from the October meeting where volunteers Ingrid Griffith and John Oyer were thanked, superintendent Tim Davis and the Board of Education honored Shawn Conlon and Dave and Lisa Dietrick for their service to the schools, especially the district’s athletes. The three honorees received a certificate and a round of applause from those in attendance near the start of the meeting.

“This is just a testament to people putting others first,” Davis said. “It's something they enjoy doing, but the volunteers and the people that we have in this community that step up and do things like this, we can't say thank you enough.”

Conlon has photographed athletic events for the district for several years, even after his own children graduated, Davis said.

“He provides a great service to our kids by providing great pictures on the sideline,” the superintendent said.

Davis said the Dietricks are the “two main people” who represent the Booster Club and have numerous responsibilities for each athletic event hosted by Hillsboro.

“It's a thankless job, getting things ready, prepping it, making sure everything's ready to go, having money, having the products there,” Davis said. “This is something that's absolutely huge, and to say thank you is not even close to what you guys do and the sacrifices you make for our students, not only providing good, quality food at our sporting events, but just providing a great atmosphere. It’s at all sports — football, basketball, baseball — everything we do, you guys are there and providing that.”

Board president Bill Myers also thanked Conlon and Mr. and Mrs. Dietrick.

“It's deeply appreciated,” Myers said. “I know for the parents and families of this district, you guys make a big difference, and it's awesome.”

The recognition continued during the public participation section of the meeting, with John Barney of WCHO/WSRW thanking Hillsboro’s DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) club chapter for their assistance marketing the annual Boofest event uptown during beggars’ night.

Barney told the board he spoke to the chapter’s adviser, Rachel Bohrer, and suggested turning over some of the non-corporate sponsorship responsibility to the DECA program for marketing experience, with DECA in turn being able to use proceeds for a fundraiser for their club, last year.

Barney credited HCS Board of Education student representative Ethan Kirk for taking “the bull by the horns,” as he said the group also independently came up with solutions this year to address some issues from their first year working the event. Kirk said in his report that the DECA club “use their marketing skills learned in class to get businesses in the community set up a booth on trick or treat night.”

“They did a wonderful job,” Barney said. “As long as I'm with the radio station and we're doing that event, they're going to be part of it.

“I've talked with [Kirk] a little bit about, you know, he's going to use this as he gets to go to college, and he's going to move on. He's going to be a part of a community someday, and he's going to use this as something to build on for him, which is what I learned from Mr. Ernie Blankenship when I came here back 28 years ago.”

Barney said he also wanted to call attention to the Hillsboro FFA program, with whom he has been partnering for the past few years through the radio station.

“Going into it, I thought it was going to be more of, me helping them get the word out of what the FFA does, but in reality, I've learned a lot from them,” Barney said. “I’ve heard a lot from them, and what they do and how they do it and what they're going to do.

“You have a very good FFA program and should be very proud of it. Again, to them, I think they do a wonderful job. I just wanted to come and wanted to thank them for teaching me stuff while I helped them.”

Myers thanked Barney for “highlighting a couple of our groups.

“We have many, many awesome students in our district and groups that we have,” Myers said.

Those groups and other Hillsboro students were also praised during the committee reports, as Kirk and then Davis recapped recent athletic, academic and other extracurricular achievements.

As noted in the reports, the varsity football team qualified for the OHSAA playoffs this year, falling in the first round to eventual state semifinalist (and still competing) Tippecanoe.

“They did fall short, but it was not without great effort, and it was a good first season for the newest head coach, Coach [Nate] Horne,” Kirk said.

Davis agreed, saying the football team had “a great season.”

“I want to thank Shane Wilkin for purchasing tickets for the students that were attending that [playoff] game,” Davis added.

Also qualifying for state competition was HHS freshman Taylor Thoroman, who was an individual qualifier for the OHSAA State Cross-Country Championships and finished 71st overall.

“To celebrate this achievement, there was a march to state,” Kirk said. “The march to state included the freshman, Taylor Thoroman, the marching band and on cymbals, Mr. Davis.”

Davis added that the girls cross-country team won the Frontier Athletic Conference championship, were fifth at districts and qualified for regionals as a team.

Individual student-athletes recognized by Davis were: girls soccer — Rylie Scott (All-FAC, first-team All-District), Peighton Bledsoe (All-FAC and second-team All-District), Taylor Leathley (honorable mention All-District) and Kinsey Gilliland (honorable mention All-District); boys soccer — Nick Turner (All-FAC, first-team All-District), Will Hart (All-FAC, second-team All-District), Keahi Mhanna (All-FAC, honorable mention All-District) and Tate Davis (honorable mention All-District); volleyball — Cora Akers (All-FAC, honorable mention All-District); cross-country — Taylor Thoroman (All-FAC, FAC Runner of the Year, state qualifier), Corbin Winkle (All-FAC, FAC Runner of the Year, regional qualifier), Jailyn Williams (All-FAC); football — Austin Barrett (All-FAC and first-team All-District), Deegan Bloomfield (first-team All-District), Ayden Clemons (special mention All-District) and Gary Reno (special mention All-District); girls golf — Hailey Phillips (All-FAC); and girls tennis — Scarlett Studebaker (All-FAC).

At the fall sports banquet, Hart and Madalyn Ross were also presented the Don McKenzie Award, given to the male and female athletes who have the highest grade point average for that season, Davis said.

Davis also thanked everyone involved with the athletic department for their efforts this fall.

“I want to thank Mr. [Brett] Prince [athletic director], Mr. [Jason] Moberly [assistant athletic director], all of our fall coaches, ticket takers, volunteers, to make that fall season a success,” Davis said.

He also noted that first-year girls varsity basketball head coach Heather Storer and the Lady Indians opened their season with a win over Blanchester Friday, Nov. 18.

“That was our first varsity win as a head coach,” Davis said. “That's a big moment for her and a good way to start the season for the girls.”

Also over the weekend, Hillsboro bowling team member Andrew Tomko bowled a 300 game Nov. 19 in the first day of competition for the Indians this season. Davis said this is Tomko’s third 300 game overall but his first while competing as a member of the HHS team.

Davis also highlighted several members of the Hillsboro FFA chapter who have had success in recent contests, including Winkle, Kathryn Ogden, Reagan Leeth and Riley Collins qualifying for the District 9 Job Interview Contest, with all four placing in their respective divisions and Winkle qualifying for state by winning his division. He said 13 students participated in the chapter job interview contest and nine competed at the sub district level.

The FFA parliamentary procedure team of Carter Boyd, Addy Knauff, Dalayna Collins, Halle Jones, Danyell Bick and Winkle won the sub district competition and have advanced to districts, and 23 members also competed at the district food science contest, Davis said.

Board member Beverly Rhoads was also recognized for receiving the Ohio School Boards Association’s highest honor, the 2022 All-Ohio School Board Award, during the OSBA Capital Conference earlier this month.

“Congratulations, Beverly,” Davis said. “She was one of five board members in the state [honored]. Awesome job, Beverly, and thank you for all that you do.”

Myers also praised Rhoads in his report.

“Congratulations to Beverly, because she does a lot of the things the rest of us don't want to do, and she keeps us extremely informed,” he said. “She's a true asset to the board, so a sincere congratulations.”

Also in Myers’ report, he said he attended a college signing Monday before the meeting, as HHS senior Hannah Burton signed her letter of intent to play softball at Ohio Christian University.

“I’ve had the pleasure of being a coach to her for many, many, many years now, and she is just an excellent young lady and represents our school tremendously, and we're just super excited for her signing,” Myers said.

Also during the meeting:

• In their respective reports, Davis and Kirk recapped numerous recent field trips, events and other activities at the high school.

According to Kirk, those field trips included: DECA attending the “DECA Day” at the Columbus Blue Jackets game Oct. 21, which also involved hearing a speaker, meeting players and receiving a skating and hockey lesson; juniors and seniors taking a college tour of University of Cincinnati with HHS counselors; the zoology and field science classes visiting the zoo; members of the Spanish Club taking a field trip to the Cincinnati Art Museum; and the symphonic choir and physics classes visiting the United Methodist Church to discuss the church’s pipe organ and sound waves.

In addition to that field trip, Kirk said that the high school choirs performed a fall concert, and the symphonic choir also participated in the Marietta College’s high school choral festival. Approximately 300 people attended the drama department’s fall production, “The Creature Creeps,” according to Kirk.

“It was great,” Davis said of the play. “I want to congratulate Mrs. [Jenna] Horick and the entire cast and crew. A lot of time was put in, with the amount of lines that they have to memorize. It is absolutely a talent to be able to get up on stage and to go through all the lines and know what's going on, so they did a wonderful job.”

The theater department also had an appropriately dramatic reveal for the spring musical, according to Kirk.

“Mrs. [Laura] Jacky did a musical reveal last week,” he said. “She had a bulletin board with 5 million musicals, it felt like, and took off five each day until the remaining musicals was revealed. It involved Mr. [Joe] Jacky dancing, which was very funny. It was revealed the musical will be ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’”

Kirk, Davis and other board members also said they attended the Veterans Day assembly presented by the HHS Student Council.

“This is the first Veterans Day assembly since COVID that was in person for the high school,” Kirk said. “The middle school did watch it virtually. During the ceremony, there was a flag folding, a guest speaker, a recognition of those who served and a recognition of who was with us that day, and a Veterans Day video that Student Council made.”

Davis said that the event is “probably my favorite assembly that we do.

“We're glad to have veterans back into the building to be recognized, and student council did a wonderful job of putting that on,” Davis said. “We had great attendance by our students and veterans, and I just want to say thank you to all of our veterans for giving us the freedoms that we have. We appreciate those that showed up that day, and it was a great assembly.”

The Hillsboro FFA also hosted their Greenhand Night for incoming freshmen members in the past month, Kirk said. According to Davis, there are 83 new members joining the chapter year.

Upcoming events include the National Honor Society’s induction ceremony, set for Dec. 5, while winter sports are underway, Kirk said. Davis added that the choirs will also perform their Feast of Carols Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church.

• Board member Larry Lyons reported that he attended sessions on legislative issues, as well as on student health and school safety and funding topics, during the OSBA Capital Conference. He said he did not have “a lot to report on the legislative front.

“The legislature is currently in a lame duck session after the midterm election, so there's probably not going to be any new bills introduced during this session,” he said. “There are some pending bills in both the state Senate and Congress that legislators are trying to clean up or pass on to the next step in the legislative process.”

In addition to attending several events covered earlier in the meeting, Lyons told the board that he attended a presentation in HHS teacher Cody Mathews’ History of Vietnam War class. Students heard a presentation and engaged in a Q&A session with a Vietnam veteran whom Lyons said “openly shared with the class, answering the easier questions and graciously volunteering to answer their tough questions.”

• Rhoads, who said she enjoyed the OSBA Capital Conference, discussed highlights from the November Great Oaks Career Campuses Board of Directors meeting.

The board heard the final presentation of treasurer/CFO Ben Vanhorn before his retirement, which included the five-year forecast and discussion of the 2024 budget. They also reviewed the new high school application process that will start with the next school year, Rhoads said.

• In his report, Jerry Walker said he wanted to call attention to “the school voucher system and monies that are being allocated to vouchers and charter schools.

“I think we need to draw some closer attention to some of the expectations of our schools, and then money is being taken away from the school, and the concern for accountability when students go and then return to our schools,” Walker said. “If they come back into our schools, we carry that financial responsibility, which is potentially significant. I think sometimes we don't advocate like we should, so I just want to bring that up tonight for the record.”

• Walker and Myers also both asked Davis for an update on the athletic complex construction project at the high school.

As previously reported, the board voted in July to approve a $2.7 million contract for artificial turf and its installation through Southwestern Ohio Education Purchasing Council from The Motz Group, LLC, upgrading the soccer field to a turf field and having a goal of installing turf baseball and softball infields in time for the spring 2023 season.

“We've started to action at the soccer complex for taking out the dirt,” Davis said. “It's moving along quite nicely. They are taking out the infield of the soccer field.

“They’ve got to get all that stuff taken out so they can put in new, and they are taking a lot of that dirt and topsoil and moving it to the back of our property there behind the hill and the retaining pond. It’s one of those projects that starts now, and we're hoping to be done by the by the end of March. Right now, everything seems to be on schedule and moving right along.”

Board member Tom Milbery asked if the “track will be available.”

“Yes,” Davis said. “The track will be completed first. That was the main part of the project for getting the track done before track season. Baseball and softball, we still have areas where they can practice and do different things. We do not have an area — we can't go around the track.”

Walker then asked if the project also includes “fencing and walls around the ball diamonds.”

“We will have those, yes,” Davis said.

• During the public participation portion of the meeting, Paula Anteck Toenniges addressed the board with a request for students and staff to be allowed to focus on Jesus during the Christmas holiday season.

“I haven't been involved in the school for years, [since] my daughter graduated,” Toenniges said. “I now have a child enrolled, and I am concerned, as I was back then, we allow Harry Potter books. We allow Harry Potter posters. We allow the ‘death eater’ posters that are ugly looking in the hallways of the schools for children. We celebrate —which is considered a religious holiday for Satan — Halloween.

“I am asking that with us giving space to the evil one at Halloween, that there would be time during the Christmas season, the Christmas holiday season, to represent Jesus Christ and His birth and celebrate him. Obviously he's the way, the truth, the light, and our children really need to know some of the truth.”

Toenniges added that she feels teachers are “not allowed to speak up” about Christianity.

“Our Constitution was founded on our forefathers, who was in the presence of God when they wrote the Constitution of the United States, and I just am asking for Hillsboro schools to acknowledge that,” she said. “That's why I'm here, and that is the stance that I want to take.”

Myers and other board members thanked her for her comments.

• The board approved the financial reports as presented. District treasurer Ben Teeters reported a general fund cash balance of $9,743,868, expenses of $2,144,867 and revenues of $2,653,250 for October 2022.

“I got to looking back through,” Teeters said. “Eight or nine years ago, our expenses for this month were more than what our expenses for the general fund are at the present time, so it’s been running on a pretty even keel for several years.”

• The following individuals were approved for employment in the contracts and positions indicated: volunteers — Lindsey Bender, Todd Bender, Jeff Horick and Stephanie Lengefeld (HMS/HHS), Kayla Conrad (HES/HMS), Amanda Fife, Jaime Garen, Julie Horne, Tasha Kereky and Alison Lyle (HES), Emma Horick (HES/HMS/HHS) and Dustin Willey (HS boys basketball coach); sub classified, Krystal Hannah (aide), Shelby Hale (cook, custodian) and Rebecca Peters (aide, retroactive to Nov. 16); sub certified, Sara Allen, Maggie Chaney, Tricia Howland, Hilary Montalvo (nurse), Kimberly O’Brien and Jo Ann Vincent; supplemental, Abby Baker (sports chaperone - swimming), JC Captain and Lawton Parry (MS boys basketball coaches), Amy Captain (HS assistant football cheerleading coach, retroactive to July 7) and Jordan Walker (MS girls basketball coach); and classified, Kala Ferguson Newman (LPN, retroactive to Nov. 16).

• The board approved leaves of absence for teachers Kristie Cornele (Nov. 9-Jan. 4) and Natasha Walker (Nov. 23-Jan. 18).

• The board accepted the resignations of custodian Kathy Clevinger, effective Nov. 14, and paraprofessional Rebecca Peters, effective Nov. 11.

• The board approved payment of a $3,432 invoice from East Muskingum Local Schools for educational services. According to Davis, this is an invoice “for a student in a residential facility” that lives in the Hillsboro district, and they received the invoice without a previous purchase order. The board is required to authorize any invoice over $3,000 that was not previously approved.

• Haven Long and McKenna Mackey were approved as early graduates.

• The board accepted a $25 donation from the Hillsboro Woman’s Club toward Hillsboro City Schools.

• The board approved an out-of-state field trip for the boys and girls varsity basketball teams, who are competing against Whiteoak at the “Hoosier Gym” in Knightstown, Ind. on Dec. 12.

“They rent that out for the students to play in it, and it's going to be a good atmosphere and good opportunity,” Davis said.