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Local

Back to school in Morris

Students at MCHS have two new leaders - Superintendent Craig Ortiz and Principal Michael Gourley.
Students at MCHS have two new leaders - Superintendent Craig Ortiz and Principal Michael Gourley.

Children are heading back to school in Grundy County.

Most public schools across the area are back in session this week. Minooka schools began Monday, Morris schools began Wednesday and Coal City is set to begin today.

With each new year comes changes in personnel and policy to the various schools across Grundy. Morris schools in particular has many fresh faces in administration this year. Morris Community High School and Immaculate Conception School both hired new principals. MCHS also gained a new superintendent, Craig Ortiz.

Ortiz is a 1991 graduate of MCHS and went on to teach there as a math teacher for 22 years. He served as head of the mathematics department for three years. Ortiz said the students and staff of MCHS have made him feel comfortable in his new role.

“I feel very supported and welcome. I’ve been here many years, so I’ve already developed a lot of great relationships with the staff,” Ortiz said.

The newly minted superintendent joined new principal Michael Gourley at a pep assembly on the first day of classes. Ortiz said he wanted to give the students an opportunity to get to know the new administration.

MCHS also hired six new teachers for the new school year.

Other changes may be coming to the school’s auditorium. On Monday night the MCHS school board discussed a renovation project that would replace the auditorium seats. The drama department will be holding a fundraiser this autumn and an anonymous community member has offered $25,000 to help complete the project.

Another change implemented at MCHS is a new mandatory online registration form for all high school athletes. According to the school website, every athlete wishing to participate in any sport must register at morris.8to18.com by Sept. 1.

The new principal at ICS is Stacey Swanson. She said that the private Catholic school’s community has been supportive and that she is excited to start the new year.

“I’ve been enjoying the community feel. [The ICS community] care so much about each other. They make everyone feel welcome,” Swanson said.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has encouraged parents of students from preschool to college to include emergency preparedness in their back-to-school plans. This means being aware of where students would be evacuated in case of emergency, making sure your emergency contact info with the school is up to date and pre-authorizing a friend or relative to be able to pick up your child if you are unavailable.

“Emergencies can occur any time of the day or night, including when children are in school,” acting IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau said. “The start of a new school year is the perfect time to make sure you know your school’s plans for keeping students safe during an emergency and then talking to your child about those plans.”

The IEMA also encouraged students and parents to prioritize texting over calls in times of crisis, as this will get information out quicker and will ease phone traffic.

Ortiz said that parents are welcome to call the school to discuss updating registration information.

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