Education & Schools
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by News from The Link   
Friday, 21 September 2012 14:08

Nishant Gorrepati of Bettendorf has graduated from Wichita State University with a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering.

WSU enrolls about 15,000 students and offers more than 60 undergraduate degree programs in more than 150 areas of study in six undergraduate colleges.

Illinois School Project Preserves Memory, History of Bataan Soldiers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by readMedia Newswire   
Thursday, 20 September 2012 07:36

Nation Marks POW/MIA Recognition Day Sept. 21; Story by Capt. Dutch Grove, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs

SPRINGFIELD, IL (09/19/2012)(readMedia)-- A persistent interest in a locked memorial garden, a promise to a friend and the quest for free computers led a couple of teachers at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill., to embark on a project that is today an expansive online databases of a single National Guard organization and a fascinating chronicle of one of the most dramatic prisoner of war episodes in American history.

Inside the well maintained, park-like memorial garden at Proviso East High School are several large commemorative plaques with the names of 191 former students who died fighting during World War II etched onto them.

Ian Smith, a former social studies teacher, and Jim Opolony, an English teacher at Proviso East, often talked of exploring the memorial garden, but found little opportunity until after school one day during the 1999 school year.

"The garden is an open air courtyard that classrooms overlooked and wasn't an area typically for students to go into and wander around in," said Smith. "The doors would lock automatically and we were worried we couldn't get back in. But one day we noticed the door was ajar and we went out to explore."

While they explored the memorial garden, Smith and Opolony made a rubbing of the name Robert Boerman from one of the monuments as a favor to Boerman's nephew. As they continued to explore they noticed a disproportionate number of names from the class of 1938.

"We knew Maywood had a long history with the Bataan Death March because of the parade, which was held for 50 years and the Bataan Day ceremonies," said Smith. "We wondered why there were so many from this particular class and thought it may be connected to Bataan."

The pair investigated further and discovered the building across the street from the school, visible from Smith's classroom, was the armory. Following on an oral history project they led with their students the year before, Smith and Opolony decided to get their students involved in the project of discovering and documenting the histories of the Proviso veterans who were memorialized in the garden.

As a bonus, the student's use of the Internet for the project would help the school procure computers through a school consortium. The teachers quickly found their students knew very little about their local history and the project was a great opportunity to educate them about it.

The original focus of the project was Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard whose Soldiers, along with those of the rest of the battalion, would successfully repel the Japanese invasion of the Philippine's Bataan Peninsula for four months while critically short on food, bullets and other supplies. Without supplies or hope of reinforcements, the troops were ordered to surrender. Now prisoners of war, the Soldiers were made to walk the 80 miles to Camp O'Donnell suffering from dehydration, exhaustion, disease and brutal treatment at the hands of their Japanese guards.

"Originally the students got really upset," said Opolony. "We brought one of the Bataan survivors into the classroom and a student asked him 'did you want to die?' and he said 'every day.' They had tears in their eyes when they realized these men were really just boys of 17, 18, or 19 years old when this happened to them."

Opolony and Smith were successful at piquing their students' interest and said the project quickly grew wheels.

"This was such a close, local story. These guys went to the same school, played on the same ball fields and lived in the same neighborhoods as the students," said Smith. "A passion developed at that point to get the word out. Let's see if we can find survivors; let's see if we can find some relatives of those who died and get their stories out there."

Both teachers said they could not imagine how the project would grow and develop.

"We were only going to document B Company, but as soon as we went online with the project we began receiving e-mails from family members from the remainder of the battalion in Wisconsin, Ohio and Kentucky," said Opolony.

They decided to move the project forward and expand it.

"We were getting information about all four companies in the battalion," said Smith. "We decided, let's keep going with it."

Today the entire project is a site of its own ( and is updated as often as new information is made available from survivors and family members.

"All of the information is from primary sources; first-hand accounts. Survivors sent us pictures and letters and scrap books," said Smith. "We went to the Maywood Bataan Day event in 1999 and looked for people who looked like they were World War II veterans and asked them to do interviews and that developed into great relationships."

As the nation marks POW/MIA Recognition Day Sept. 21, Smith and Opolony take pride in their students' efforts to preserve the history of the Illinois National Guard Soldiers who are connected to Bataan.

"The students really appreciated the history. It wasn't something in a history book, it was personalized," said Smith. "We'd have addresses of where the Soldiers lived and students would say 'that's next to my house.' It made the history come alive for them."

Both have found the project impacted their lives too.

"If you would have asked me in 1999, I wouldn't have known a whole lot," said Opolony. "I'm not an authority on Bataan or World War II, but I know a ton about the tank battalion. I've made a lot of friends and have traveled to all four towns where companies of the 192nd were from."

They said most of the survivors interviewed for the project were being asked to talk about something they would rather not remember, but that talking helped the survivors and helped their families.

"We were able to find out things, fill in the pieces for families who lost someone over there, but until (this project), we knew very few details about their experience before they died. Survivors would say to us 'thank you for helping me tell these stories I've never told anybody about before,'" said Smith.

Today only a few of the 192nd Tank Battalion Soldiers who served in WWII are still alive, but their stories and their memory live on as a result of the Proviso East High School Bataan Commemorative Research Project. The project has been a blessing to survivors and the families around the world and received two awards including an Illinois State Board of Education excellence award.

Smith and Opolony said the project has been a blessing on them personally as well.

"The privilege of being able to interact with and get to know these has been as rewarding for Jim and I as it has been for the veterans and families who've benefitted from the project," said Smith.

News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Office of Governor Terry Branstad   
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 14:52

(Sept. 17, 2012; Des Moines, IA) – The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council Executive Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, from 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Agenda items include updates on the STEM Scale-Up Applications, review and discussion of the top six pressing STEM recommendations from the Council and discussion of a draft budget for FY2012.

Originating from Des Moines, Iowa, the meeting is open to the public and media.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 

Meeting location: Grimes State Office Building

ICN Room, 2nd Floor

400 E. 14th Street

Des Moines, IA  50319

9:00 a.m.               Governor’s STEM Advisory Council Executive Committee meeting begins

Agenda Items

11:00 a.m. Meeting Adjourns


For more information, please visit


Loebsack Announces More than $449,000 for the Eastern Iowa Community College District Library PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 14:42

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Dave Loebsack announced that the Eastern Iowa Community College District Library will receive a $449,714 National Leadership Grant (NLG) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  The NLG is given to library institutions to support projects that address challenges faced by the museum, library and archive fields that have the potential to advance practices in those fields.

“This funding will allow the Eastern Iowa Community College District Library to make modernizations and advancements to library practices,” said Loebsack.  “I am pleased that the library will put this funding to use to advance environmental sustainability and energy efficiency initiatives throughout the Davenport community.”

Eastern Iowa Community College District Library will partner with seven partners including city museums, libraries, and cultural and educational organizations to develop programs to advance the science and information literacy skills of Davenport residents, attract new audiences to current programs, and engage residents in activities promoting environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. These coordinated activities will support the City of Davenport’s efforts to become a sustainable city, one that manages harmful emissions and uses resources wisely; improves local air and water quality; respects native flora and fauna; and provides natural habitats, shade, and natural cooling.


Motivate Kids by Teaching Them ‘Life is a Business’ PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 14:37
Non-Profit Founder Offers Tips for Raising Kids to Succeed

Welfare may seem like a charitable measure for struggling families. But it’s a self-perpetuating trap when it becomes the only way of life parents know how to teach their children, who then know nothing else to teach their own children, says Virgil Brannon, founder of the non-profit I Am Vision Inc.

“Living on entitlements becomes a way of life for recipients when it’s handed down from one generation to the next because the family loses any tools it might have once had to forge a life based on self-discipline, achievement and challenging,” says Brannon, author of Democratic Coma (

“It’s no different from the child who grow up being given material thing he wants, along with excessive praise that’s not deserved. One child may be from a poor family and the other from an affluent family, but both are at risk for growing up without the skills necessary for success.”

Brannon’s non-profit organization mentors disadvantaged children, helping them develop the values, understanding and knowledge they need to be motivated and equipped to succeed. He has found that coaching children to manage their lives as they would a business helps them not only develop good habits and skills, it also teaches them some essential business lessons:

•  Your life is your business: Our business is how we act, speak, the way we dress, how we treat ourselves and how we treat others. Like any other business, it is expected to grow and prosper and to do that, we must invest in it. Part of that is feeding the mind with the information needed to make good choices.

•  The people you meet and the friends you make are your clientele: Treat all people with the respect you would any customer or potential customer. Our relationships can elevate us if people feel their treated fairly, honestly and with respect.

•  The more you provide or produce, the more you advance: Business involves providing a service or product. Business people do not care about excuses; they care about what you have to offer them. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what color you are, if you have something they need – and a reputation for integrity -- they will come to you for it.

• Your appearance means everything: You must look the part to get the part. The secret is to look as though you already have it to obtain what you want.

Parents should teach their children to be business-like and to think like a professional, Brannon says.

“That includes giving them the best education possible, including learning at home about history, civic duty and different cultures,” Brannon says. “In business, people are expected to display good manners and to communicate with others, from a firm handshake to looking others in the eye and speaking clearly and correctly.

“That is the most important investment we can make.”

About Virgil Brannon

Virgil Brannon is a private investigator and the founder of I Am Vision Inc., a non-profit program that embraces and empowers youth with academic and leadership challenges. His goal is to promote the personal growth of socio-economically disadvantaged youth and their families by encouraging their dreams and providing members with a roadmap for success. Brannon attended Shepherd’s Care Bible College and received his master’s and doctoral degrees in ministry religious counseling.

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