#MyNorm is a new video series at Harvard High School where students share what is “normal” for them. Students share what makes them unique, their interests, their passions, and ultimately their authentic selves.
Harvard High School’s Chess Team heads to Peoria Thursday afternoon to compete in the Illinois High School Association’s State Tournament. First board player Chris Alvarado hopes to earn an individual medallion at the tournament. He will need to win six rounds throughout the tournament to achieve the honor.
Second board player Matthew Seisser had played chess casually before joining the team his freshman year, but it was through consistent practice and studying the “thought processes of grandmasters” that he saw real gains in his playing abilities.
Though the team lost 14 seniors from last season, three freshmen joined the team for the 2017-2018 school year. Freshmen Jacob Chupich, James Johnson, and Riley Oerkfitz had spent frequent lunch periods playing chess at Harvard Junior High School.
The team uses their practices to play quick five minute games as well as to learn strategy for opening, middlegame, and endgame scenarios. Coach Jason Gomez explains that successful play is “all about pattern recognition” and so Harvard’s players improve through repeated play. The team will put their practice to the test when the tournament begins on Friday.
Thanks to metals teacher Steve Glasder, Harvard High School now offers state-of-art Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines for students to learn and develop valuable career-skills. As Steve explains “We have the most comprehensive shop in McHenry County.” Through Harvard’s metals and manufacturing classes, students graduate with a skillset that can lead to immediate employment.
Seven years ago, when he received a call about the teaching job, Steve thought to himself, “I’ll give it a shot.” Since then Steve has dedicated his time in the classroom and through the writing of grants. With a combination of grant awards, including a local mega-grant from the Harvard Community Education Foundation, Harvard High School has acquired cutting-edge manufacturing technology.
Steve has continued to work for the district because of his commitment to bettering the community. He is currently working to open the metals and manufacturing department to the public. His passion for teaching comes from Harvard having “really good kids.”
In this year’s Winter Olympics, Steve’s son Michael will be competing with the US ski jump team. Steve says that his son was determined to achieve that goal from the second he graduated high school. While speaking about his son’s achievements, Steve offered this advice to students about their own aspirations: “Follow your dream, don’t give up. Never lose sight of it.”
The Kishwaukee Region Illinois Principal Association has selected Harvard High School’s Michael Patterson as their Dean of the Year.
Patterson has served as dean for the last six years. When asked about his role, Patterson said, “I love working with our students. Harvard has great kids.” Patterson finds reward in moments when students choose to improve their academic direction and when he meets former students who have found success after high school.
Describing Patterson’s work, Principal Carl Hobbs said, “He’s made a concerted effort to recognize positive behavior in our students, rather than only focusing on negative conduct.” This change in focus and expectations has directly resulted in higher attendance numbers and reduced tardiness at the high school.
Assistant Principal John Hollingsworth added, “Mike has been a champion for increasing our daily attendance rate, focusing on our ’95 in Hive’ and ‘8 is Great’ programs.” These programs target attendance and ensure students arrive on time to school. Hollingsworth explained, “If you’re not in school, you’re not learning. Timeliness and accountability is a life skill we want our students to have and continue into their adult lives.”
Patterson will be recognized at a formal ceremony in February.