The student news site of Alton High School

The Daily Bird

The student news site of Alton High School

The Daily Bird

The student news site of Alton High School

The Daily Bird

Daily Bird Staff Recaps the Biggest Stories of the Year

New Leadership Coming Soon

By Grace Gibbons, Managing Editor, Benjamin Helfrich & Brandon Palmer, Contributors

Incoming Superintendent Elaine Kane

The Alton School District is abuzz with anticipation as it prepares to usher in a new era of leadership. With familiar faces assuming pivotal roses, the district is poised for positive change and continued interest in education. 

Incoming Superintendent Elaine Kane, currently serving as Assistant Superintendent, is set to lead the district beginning July 1. “I felt compelled to step up,” Kane said. “As a lifelong community member and an Alton educator…I care deeply about the students, staff and families in our community.” 

With an impressive three decades of service to the district, Kane’s commitment to educational excellence runs deep. Throughout her tenure, she has championed core values such as fostering a positive work environment. “There’s an intense level of trust required to accomplish our goals and it takes intentional communication to maintain trust,” Kane said. 

As an experienced administrator, Kane has undertaken crucial responsibilities in coordinating and managing the District Title I and II Improvement Process. This role highlights her involvement in initiatives aimed at enhancing educational outcomes and ensuring compliance with federal regulations. Additionally, Kane’s role in evaluating elementary school principals and the elementary administrators’ professional learning communities underscores her commitment to fostering effective leadership within the district.

Joining Kane in the spotlight is Stacie Franke, the newly appointed Principal of Alton High School. With 24 years of experience within the district, Franke’s return to the high school is met with enthusiasm. “I have always loved Alton High School, and I’m excited to return to campus,” Franke said. 

Starting as a school social worker, Franke transitioned into school administration in 2009, assuming the role of Dean of Students at the Motivational Achievement Center. This shift marked her entry into leadership positions within the district, showcasing her ability to take on new challenges and responsibilities. In 2019, Franke further solidified her leadership credentials by becoming the Principal at Mark Twain School where she played a significant role in shaping the educational environment and supporting student success.

On July 1, Franke will officially replace Principal Mike Bellm who is moving to the Administrative Center to become the Director of Student Services. Bellm has led the high school as Principal for the last eight years. He said his new position will include coordinating food services, busing and maintenance within the district.

Bellm also said he believes Franke will do a “tremendous job” as the new Principal. “I look forward to helping her get a great start,” he added.

As Kane and Franke prepare to assume their new roles, the district is filled with anticipation for the positive impact of their leadership and unwavering dedication to educational excellence. 

Both Kane and Franke share a passion for education and commitment to serving the Alton community. “Alton High School has outstanding faculty and students,” Franke said. “I’m excited to be a part of their team and continue to serve our students.”

Kane echoes that sentiment. “I’m fortunate to wake up every day enthusiastic about our work because I’m inspired daily by the talented teachers and students in our schools,” she added.


Altercations Cause Major Changes in Safety Protocols

By Adelia Sandidfer, Features Editor, Jada Lumpkins, Contributor

Officer Keshner assists a student through the open gate system. Chromebooks must be passed around the system to avoid setting off a warning. Photo by Amaris Medlin

Throughout the day on Aug. 30, 2023, more than 20 fights broke out on the AHS campus that led to changes in the school’s safety protocols. As a direct result of the altercations, the school canceled classes the following day and placed students on e-learning Sept. 1 and Sept. 5. The district communicated with students and parents that there would be significant changes in security when students returned on Sept. 6.

“It was so disheartening to see too many young people doing the wrong thing and not enough people that stood up to stop it,” safety team member Brandon Samuels said. “I’ve never seen something like that occur at school.”

When students returned to school, they were greeted by the implementation of the open gate system which is designed to detect weapons. The system requires students to pass through two towers that scan for certain items on the students and in their belongings.

School resource officer Brad Woelfel is one of the administrators of the system. He said he frequently checks the settings and tests the detectors to make sure that they are operating correctly.

“It’s extremely important not to allow weapons into the school, and it [the detector system] has prevented that,” Woelfel added.

In addition to implementing the open gate system, areas of the school where students could gather were roped off, the largest restrooms near the auditorium were closed and students were placed on restrictive movement where they were not allowed to leave class with a pass for the first or last 10 minutes.

Changes were also made to attendance guidelines for school-sponsored activities such as football games, theater performances and recognition ceremonies both on campus and off campus at the Public School Stadium. The football team, Marching 100 and cheer squad began the season with only family members being allowed to attend home games. When restrictions were eased to allow all community members to attend, individuals were required to pass through the open gate system prior to entry.

Whether all of these restrictions will remain in effect when students return in the fall is unknown. But, for the first time in Alton High School history, the school endured significant changes in daily procedures because of student violence.


Advisory Alters Morning Schedules

By Lydia Copeland, Reporter & Briana Wermke, Reporter

Sophomore Samuel Caughran completes the New York Times Wordle in his advisory. Photo by Lydia Copeland

During the summer of 2023, the decision to add the advisory period into Alton High’s schedule became official.

A committee of approximately 20 teachers and administrators came together to develop a way to incorporate life lessons into an introductory period of the day. Each grade level was carefully reviewed by the committee in order to determine specific skills to teach to those students.

Advisory is a 25-minute class period that was created with the intention of building connections between students and staff. Each staff member is assigned approximately 20 students to check in with. The one-on-one meetings were encouraged to benefit student-teacher relationships and to better the students’ academic performance.

“At the beginning of the year, I thought advisory was useless and didn’t like how it changed around the schedule. Now, I really enjoy it,” sophomore Katherine Krafka said. “It’s nice to have that extra time coming into school in the morning if I’m using it to finish homework or just talk to my friends.”

Some students believe that the advisory’s intended purpose has changed, causing personal opinions about the period to shift. “At first I thought it [advisory] was really stupid because they made us do the Zoom thing which nobody paid attention to,” sophomore Mackenzie Cochran said. “Now it’s just basically a time to socialize and get to know people, so I kinda like it because we just chill and have fun with friends.

In order to encourage attendance in advisory during the second semester, administrators decided that students could earn .25 credit if they have less than 11 absences in the period. Also, unlike traditional classes, students will continue with the same advisory teacher throughout their high school career.


Link Crew Debuts to Help Freshmen

By Annabelle Smith, Reporter & Emily Stafford, Reporter

Freshmen play musical chairs during the 6th hour assembly for the Ro Sham Beaux finale.

Freshmen can find themselves adrift in a sea of uncertainty during their first year of high school. Thanks to Link Crew, newcomers at Alton High are finding solid ground. With 85 upperclassmen mentors guiding their way at the start of the 2023-24 school year, freshmen were given a better chance.

Being a Link Crew leader gives upperclassmen the opportunity to help incoming freshmen overcome anxieties of being new to such a large environment.

“Luckily I was given a freshman advisory so I was able to touch base with my freshmen quite a bit,” Spanish teacher and Link Crew Coordinator Tatiana Adams said. “I asked them what they felt about it [Link Crew] and they all had a good impression.”

With this being the first year Link Crew was introduced,  there are still details that needed to be polished. “Next year we are planning monthly meetings. We will be holding our leaders more accountable for checking in with their freshmen,” Adams said. “The purpose of this program is not just that initial orientation at the beginning of the school year, but for our freshmen to feel supported their whole first year of high school.” 

Starting high school can be overwhelming, but the Link Crew program is there to provide support and guidance to freshmen.

“Link Crew helped me feel like I was not going to get lost on the first day of school,” freshman Madelyn Hudanick said. “I really liked Link Crew because I got to meet new people and walk around the school before the first day of school.”

Link Crew aims to make every freshmen’s experience a positive one. Activities like Freshmen Link Crew Day, Elf on a Shelf, Ro Sham Beaux, a school-wide Easter egg hunt and Cookie Check Ins gave freshmen a chance to have fun and interact in a positive way.

On April 19, Link Crew welcomed their 2024-25 leaders at Leader Development Day. Stay up-to-date with what Link Crew’s up to by following them on Instagram at redbirdlinkcrew.


A-Team Makes Girls’ Basketball History

By Promise Edwards & Jewel Lumpkins

Girls’ Varsity basketball faces off early in the season against East St. Louis.

With 32 wins and three losses, the 2023-24 Lady Redbirds Basketball team thrilled the community with a victorious season. This record earned the Redbirds 9th place in the state of Illinois out of 706 teams.

The Lady Redbirds also took first place in the Southwest Conference with a 70-point win over 29 against Belleville East Lancers, setting the school record of 12-0. All the accomplishments the girls made earned them the title of the most successful girls’ basketball season in Alton High School’s history.

“Losing in Sectionals was kind of like a big pain in the butt, but we definitely knew that we had to overcome that and play harder for next year,”  junior point guard Kiyoko Proctor said. “We got tougher, more confident and played more as a team and as a family, so we picked each other up and didn’t bring each other down.”

The girls’ season ended with a heart-wrenching loss by two points against Waubonsie Valley in the State championship. In the game, leading point guard Kiyoko Proctor got injured in the first quarter which put the team at a disadvantage. Despite the occurrence, Redbird fans were still there to support the team and uplift spirits. 

“The atmosphere at the game impacted me to play with a purpose and to play hard,” junior power forward and small forward Jarius Powers said.  “As I know there were people there to support us. But there were also people there hoping we would lose, so I always played hard to prove a point.” 

Hard work on the court comes with teamwork off the court. Sophomore Kaylea Lacy said the girls bonded several ways outside of school by doing activities like going bowling, eating out and singing and dancing with each other.

“I think chemistry was one of the biggest keys, and bonding off the court,” junior center Talia Norman said. “You can’t really play a team sport if y’all don’t like each other or know each other.” 

The Lady Redbirds have made an extremely large impact on the community as their goals were met this season. They continued to fill the school with their amazing Redbird pride creating aspiration for the next season to come.


Students’ Art Showcased in Multiple Exhibits

By Bowie Chappee, Broadcasting Editor & Maria Neganov, Business Manager

Taulbee and Fite critique and observe art pieces in their class. Photo by Bowie Chappee

Alton High School has found itself brewing over with talent from young artists this year. From the Jacoby Art Show to the Webster University Photography Show, students from freshmen to seniors have had their work displayed for the community and judges.

Throughout the year the Southwestern Conference Art Exhibit, Webster University Photo Exhibit, Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville, SIUE, Regional High School Art Exhibit and Jacoby High School Regional Art Show have taken place and displayed work from students such as sophomore, Lydia Fite, junior, Ava Taulbee, senior, Mia Lavite, freshman, Elijah Wiseman and sophomore, Aryanna Jones.

The Southwestern Conference featured work from Fite, who received an honorable mention for her art piece. “It was really amazing to have my art shown there,” Fite said. “I wish I could’ve been there for the announcements, but I was at a cheer game. I was so shocked when I got word of the announcement and so happy my work was recognized.”

Jones, Fite, Taulbee and Wiseman had the honor to debut their work at the Webster University Photo Exhibit. The Exhibit is a prestigious affair that features work from many St. Louis schools with only about 14% of the entries selected to premiere at the show.

Lavite also had the opportunity to show her work at the SIUE Regional High School Art Exhibit, receiving an honorable mention for her work.

The Jacoby High School Regional Art Show displayed Taulbee’s photography. Her photography skills would win her 2nd place at the art show. “It didn’t feel real,” Taulbee said. “Everyone was so talented and you could tell that everyone spent days working on their project.”

With the rigorous nature of the artworks and their participants, it is an honor and win in itself to be accepted into the Art Exhibits.

“I was very excited that their work was going to be showcased on a platform that was viewable to so many people throughout the community, metro-east, and state,” art teacher Bridget Heck said. “The students in the fine arts classes at AHS work really hard to perfect their craft, and they are highly talented in a wide variety of mediums. To have so many students win so many awards was very humbling for me, and I felt that all of the awards were well deserved. Obviously, the AHS Fine Arts Department is one of the strongest programs in the state, world, and beyond.”


Sold-out Performances Equal Successful Season for Theater Department

By Ali Sakar, Entertainment Editor

Alton High’s 2023-24  theater season was a long and grueling one, but a successful journey at the end of the day. The two plays and one musical were not light tasks as tons of effects, scenes, lines and songs needed to be remembered.

The plays kicked off in October with the performance of “Nightwatch,” a play about a truly paranoid couple haunted by evil forces in their neighborhood. Dani Kelly, one of the show’s leads said, “It was a really fun experience, especially getting to lead my first show. I made a lot of new friends.”

Continuing into the school year, the next play, “Cafe Mocha Murders,” takes on a murder mystery with a comedic twist. This play takes a turn from the previous scary idea and puts a lighter, comedic mood onto the show.

Lastly, the one and only musical at the school, “Annie,” wrapped up at the end of April with successful showings each night. The musical follows a vibrant, redheaded orphan around New York as she searches for her parents and eventually finds her home with one of the world’s wealthiest men. 

All three of the plays/musicals performed to sold out crowds. Eli Ware, an actor in the theater department said, “It was pretty good, I feel like the end result [of each play] was really good. Everyone seemed to have liked it and it was pretty sold out.”

Ware also said that it was very challenging for all the cast members to learn their individual parts, but overall “the cast did great.”

For those still itching for the high school’s plays, the 2024-25 season will have some golden opportunities for those who yearn for the theater experience whether through watching, acting or singing.

Theater students perform during “Cafe Mocha Murders.” Photo by Ciera McNaughton

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