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TF South to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies, District 215 announces free summer programs

Graduation will be two outdoor sessions on June 23


LANSING, Ill. — Thornton Fractional South seniors can look forward to an in-person graduation ceremony on June 23.

On Tuesday, the District 215 Board of Education approved holding an outdoor graduation ceremony on the TF South football field, provided the state of Illinois is at or above a Stage 4 COVID-19 status.

Two TF South graduation sessions, outdoors

Graduation ceremonies will be broken into two sessions, at 4 and 7 p.m., with approximately 250 graduates in each session. Each student will be allowed to invited four guests, and masks may or not be required in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. In the event of rain, graduation will be held on June 28.

TF South Principal Jacob Gourley said it’s been decades since the school has held an outdoor graduation ceremony, but the state’s COVID-19 rules will allow for such a ceremony. Last year, TF South was relegated to a drive-by distribution of diplomas.

“That lasted eight hours, but it was fun,” he said. “We debated what we should and shouldn’t do for this year’s graduation and think we came up with the best possible outcome. These kids deserve to be honored with a graduation ceremonies.”

Free summer programs

The Board of Education announced that its Summer Academy programs will be offered free of charge to District 215 residents. These programs include academic recovery classes, virtual online classes, summer enrichment programs and traditional summer school classes. The district will offer a summer bridge program for incoming freshmen who may have fallen behind academically during COVID-19 virtual learning.

Gourley noted that the cost of the Summery Academy programs will be offset by the district’s federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Other District 215 updates

The newly-elected District 215 Board was also seated Tuesday, with Rita Oberman to serve as president, Morgan Waller to serve as vice president, and Diana Jackson to serve as secretary. The remaining board members are Andrea Ballard, Marcie Stowers-Wilson, Rich Dust, and the recently-appointed Dr. Christopher Dodd. The Board said goodbye to LeeAnn Revis and Patricia Stepp.

Students enrolled in the driver education will have brand new cars to drive, as the board approved the purchase of three Chevy Equinox and two Chevy Malibu vehicles at a total cost of $97,468. Based on student population, TF South will receive two Equinox vehicles and one Malibu sedan and T.F. North will receive one Equinox and one Malibu.

The board also approved a $368,700 bid with Ward Contracting & Building Restoration for replacement of interior doors at both high schools. The project will be funded through District 215’s $6,185,000 bond proceeds issued in December 2020.


Jim Masters
Jim Masters
Jim Masters grew up on 191st Street in Lansing. He attended Nathan Hale Elementary, was a member of St. Ann Church, graduated with the first graduating class at Heritage Middle School, and graduated from TF South High School in 1981. Inspired by his journalism teacher Joe Hyde, Jim earned a BA in Journalism from Northern Illinois University. He has more than 25 years of experience as beat reporter, specializing in government, politics, criminal justice, human interest stories, and education.