What's recently happened?
Illiana Christain High School (ICHS) began its school year with a running start. The administration aimed to get the 2022-2023 school year started with positive initiatives.
ICHS hosted its “New Viking Night” on August 15, which allowed for incoming freshman, and transfer students to meet one another and learn more about the school.
The night involved small groups, which allowed students to get to know each other; tours, so new students could discover the layout of the building, and even ice cream!
Freshmen also had the opportunity to experience a school day without the rest of the student body and gain a handle on their new schedule on August 16.
ICHS has also made significant progress with having Selfless, Helpful, Impactful, Encouraging, Loving, and Daring. (S.H.I.E.L.D.) groups meeting during the summer. S.H.I.E.L.D groups run by Janna VanEssen, the school's Director of student life, incorporate student leaders from the junior and senior classes.
“S.H.I.E.L.D. groups were started in the 2021-2022 school year so they are relatively new to Illiana. They are helping to build community at Illiana. In addition to Homeroom and Bible Study, it is one more place where students can go and be "known" by a smaller group of people. If students take advantage of these 3 communities at Illiana- they will get to know about 60 other students by name,” said Janna VanEssen, director of student life.
ICHS administration enlisted the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. group members for both student initiation days in order to provide student outlooks.
What's coming up?
As the 2022-2023 School year is just gearing up for ICHS, so much is already in store, especially regarding extra circulars, and student enrichment programs.
ICHS’s drama department is starting strong withholding auditions of this year's fall play production of "Father of the Bride," and after two days of auditions will jump right into rehearsals!
ICHS also has an incredibly active sports program with women's volleyballs, men's golf, and men's soccer all conditioned throughout the summer. The team held tryouts before the school year started. All the teams have a very bright future ahead of them, and interesting seasons are on their way!
The S.H.I.E.L.D group program is also holding its second annual freshmen retreat that can be expected in early September. This trip will give freshmen a chance to engage in team-building exercises with their fellow classmates while utilizing a S.H.E.LD. group leader’s perspective.
VanEssen, who has been a parent to one ICHS graduate and still has two children who attend ICHS, started in the summer of 2021 in order to help the school with community building, student community, and connection.
VanEssen is in charge of and heavily involved in multiple school programs which have become a significant part of the ICHS community.
“I help plan New Viking Night. I work with our S.H.I.E.L.D. leaders to host the freshmen retreat. I work with Jenna Dutton, our admissions coordinator to host events for middle school students such as the winter party and junior high night. I meet with Park Place and invited their residence to attend concerts, plays, and sporting events that take place at Iliana," she said.
The Director of Student Life reaches across so many different facets of the school and helps in a multitude of ways. With this being said, VanEssen considers the most significant part of her job cultivating healthy lines of commutation within the Illiana community, and making all feel welcome.
“The most important part of my job is relationships- relationships with students first and foremost but also relationships with parents, teachers, and guidance counselors. All of these relationships are important. We want not only every student but also every family to feel at 'home' at Illiana. We want them to feel valued and part of the Illiana family," she said.
The 2022-2023 school year will involve so many events that VanEssen helped plan.
“I am most excited that we have nearly 500 students who are enrolled in our school this year who will be taught about Jesus not only in the classroom but in every aspect of their life at Illiana," she said. "That means that nearly 500 students have teachers, staff, coaches, and mentors helping them cultivate a passion for God, people, and the world and there is nothing more exciting than that!”
Audrey Yonkman is a senior who has attended ICHS all four years of high school and has three sisters who have, or are currently attending, ICHS.
Yonkman is heavily involved in so many aspects of ICHS's student life, whether it be sports, community building, or even helping her fellow students with their spiritual growth. She played junior varsity (JV) softball for two years, was part of IMPACT club, she is currently a S.H.I.E.L.D. group leader, does both the plays and musicals, is in Wind Ensemble, the Chamber Choir, and on the Chapel Committee.
"Chapel committee is a new responsibility for me to help lead the whole school in worship, reading the word of God, and understanding our place in God’s world.," she said. "Another thing I’m excited to be a part of for the second year is S.H.I.E.L.D. This is a contribution to the student body because the program helps bring people together and allows students to feel like they have a place where they belong no matter what, which I think is so important.”
To Yonkman, ICHS will always hold a special place in her heart.
“The inclusivity from staff and students makes Illiana special. Teachers, office staff, janitors, etc. are very friendly and have a genuine interest to see students succeed and belong," she said.
Yonkman is described by teachers and fellow students as a bright spot at ICHS and someone who truly cares about cultivating a positive environment for everyone around.
Yonkman is a pillar of the IICHS community and continues to make positive additions to ICJS as a whole.