Peoria Public Schools

Peoria Public Schools

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District News

  • Summer School Program Registration Now Open

    Summer school programs are now posted to the district’s website with registration links for parents to sign up their children. All information can be found by visiting

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  • Superintendent issues letter to parents regarding national events

    In response to recent school shootings across the country, you may have heard that there is a national social media movement underway for students and staff to protest the most recent school violence. There are a few events scheduled over the next couple of months, including March 14th and April 20th, where organizers are asking students and teachers to walk out of the classroom for 17 minutes to recognize each of the lives lost in Florida. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and families of this senseless tragedy, however, while we believe students’ and parents’ voices can and should be heard on this issue, there are many ways to show our support without disrupting the learning environment.

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  • Potential grant funding may provide after-school programming

    Peoria Public Schools is applying for the 21st Century Grant for Trewyn School, Manual Academy and Glen Oak Community Learning Center, in hopes of programming to begin in FY19.

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  • Join our team! Teacher, Guest Teacher and Bus Driver positions available

    Peoria Public Schools is inviting candidates to apply for several open positions, including teachers, guest (sub) teachers, and bus drivers to help us finish out the school year strong! Apply online at

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  • Peoria Promise Foundation College Tuition Program - Making futures Bright!!

    Peoria Promise is a college tuition reimbursement program for City of Peoria high school graduates to further their education at Illinois Central College. 50% to 100% tuition reimbursement is available to all eligible applicants. Percentage is based primarily on financial need as reported on the FAFSA application. The Peoria Promise Application opens February 1 through May 1, 2018 for enrollment in the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 school year. For more information, to check eligibility and to enroll , visit our website

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  • PPS teachers nominated as national LifeChanger of the Year

    Three Peoria Public School teachers have been nominated for the 2017-2018 national LifeChanger of the Year award and now need the community’s support via online comments to support the nomination.

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  • Carver Center, Bradley University, Methodist College of Nursing and ICC offer SAT prep classes

    Several community organizations are offering opportunities that start soon to assist our 11th grade students prepare for the SAT this spring. The SAT is mandated by the State of Illinois as a high school graduation requirement, and will be taken by all juniors on April 10th. Click on this story to visit links with more information!

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Superintendent's Blog

  • Adopt-A-School program shows two years of growth, innovation

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/22/2018 5:00:00 PM

    Two years ago this month, we announced an exciting new partnership with the Junior League of Peoria (JLP) to revitalize Peoria Public Schools Adopt-A-School program. JLP provided a three-year grant to fund an Adopt-A-School coordinator position within the PPS Foundation, which was filled by Sarah Oakford.


    PPS Adopt-A-School has expanded in scope and in the number of partner organizations.  The program currently has 98 community-based partners with 1,396 volunteers serving PPS. The types of programming is as varied as the partners, filling so many needs for our students, from donations of basic necessities like food, clothing and hygiene products to exposure to cultural events to one-on-one tutoring and mentoring for young men in high school.  Adopt-A-School partners have contributed more than $144,000 in in-kind donations and $40,000 in monetary donations in two years. 


    Here is a sample of PPS Adopt-A-School partnerships:

    • Second Chance Church built and installed Little Free Pantries at six schools, allowing the community to give and take as needed. Donations left include non-perishable food, hygiene items and school supplies.
    • Friday Snack-Pack programs, which give students food to take home for the weekend, has expanded from serving 1,300 students per week to over 2,500.
    • Girls Light Our Way (GLOW) hosted a Saturday Financial Literacy Workshop for 49 middle and high school girls.
    • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity members provide a mentoring program for high school boys. Go To High School, Go To College meets twice each month after school and on occasional Saturdays. Recently, boys in the program spent a Saturday volunteering at First United Methodist Church Loaves and Fishes food and clothing pantry.
    • Franklin Primary School 4th grade students are working with WTVP volunteers to develop a leadership/broadcast team.
    • Class Act Etiquette owner Cindy Winkler has taught after-school programs this year at Lincoln K-8. The weekly classes, one for 6th grade girls and another for 6th grade boys, covered manners, social media etiquette, public speaking, dining etiquette and more.
    • Methodist College provides Sterling Middle School volunteer time for mentoring and tutoring as well as in-kind donations for PBIS behavior incentives and staff appreciation events.
    • Recently, leaders of St. Paul Baptist Church visited Adopt-A-School partner Von Steuben Middle School at lunch time with a video camera in hand. They spent time asking students to tell them what they want from their community. Showing the video to their church members turned out to be a great way to recruit volunteers and gave them solid ideas on how to best help the school community.

    I believe that support from the Peoria community, including Adopt-A-School, is resulting in better students and stronger, more successful schools. As reported by the 2017 Illinois school report card, for grades 3 – 8, every grade level and 15 schools showed gains in PARCC assessment scores. The 2018 assessment is now underway.


    More help is needed.  Please consider having your business, civic or professional organization or faith-based community become an Adopt-A-School partner. For information, contact Peoria Public Schools Foundation at or call 309-713-3608.

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  • DAPCEP brings STEM learning opportunity from the Motor City to the River City

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/20/2018 3:00:00 PM

    Nearly 100 Peoria Public School 5th through 8th grade students took advantage of an exciting opportunity during February and March.


    Meeting each Saturday on the Bradley University campus, the students participated in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP).  The DAPCEP STEM Saturday program has served 10,000 students at over ten Michigan college and university campuses.  This is the first time the program has been offered outside Michigan.



    Bringing DAPCEP to Peoria was a combined effort by BU professor Dr. Jacqueline Henderson, BU Caterpillar College of Engineering Dean Lex Akers, BU Alum Stephen Lewis, DAPCEP director Dr. Michelle Reaves and PPS Academic Instructional Officer Dr. Jerry Bell.



    DAPCEP STEM Saturday offered classes in:


    • Fluids & Water System Engineering-the study of open channel flow systems. Students also applied engineering processes to make dirty water into clean drinking water.


    • Engineering in Medicine: Participants explored the integration of engineering and its impact on medical training through patient simulation.


    • Chemistry: Students studied polymers, environmental chemistry, biochemistry, and the chemical of enzymes and living things.


    • Coding: Students explored coding through hands-on interactive tutorials where they learned concepts such as: inputs and outputs, loops, variables, logic, and function.


    Perhaps as important as these specific STEM areas, students learned that following STEM professions can bring about amazing changes in our world.  “STEM areas have transformed this country and the world,” Dean Akers told the students and parents at the closing lunch. “Someone in this room could be on the NASA crew that goes to Mars in 2030.”



    Also speaking at lunch, Stephen Lewis told the students that after earning an engineering degree at BU and an MBA at Marquette University, he spent his career with Ford Motor Co. traveling worldwide.  “I wanted to bring DAPCEP to Bradley University because I want to make sure that children have opportunities to learn STEM areas early and that they have the chance to be on the Bradley University campus,” said Lewis.



    I am so proud of these students for giving up their Saturday’s for this amazing learning opportunity and I appreciate the efforts of Bradley University and DAPCEP to offer STEM Saturdays to Peoria area students. 



    Guided by our strategic plan, we are currently working to develop more STEM opportunities for PPS students, including the implementation of a STEM middle school.



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  • Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center: 25 and growing

    Posted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 3/8/2018 3:00:00 PM

    As Peoria Public Schools prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center (VHECEC), the center is entering an exciting new phase, which will benefit Peoria’s preschool children today and in coming years. 



    Currently, VHECEC serves 435 three- to five-year olds at the location on Romeo B. Garrett Ave. Under the leadership of Principal Katie Cobb, VHECEC staff consists of 24 early childhood teachers, 23 paraprofessionals, eight speech pathologists, two social workers, one psychologist and two clerical support staff members.  The school has eight half-day and eight-full day classrooms, including 14 sessions meeting the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The 14 IDEA sessions include 12 half-day and two full-day sessions, with programming for children with autism and deaf and hard of hearing children.



    On March 26, through a $740,000 Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Preschool for All Expansion grant, VHECEC will begin serving an additional 100 four- and five-year-old children preparing for kindergarten. These classes will be housed at Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC) and will be staffed by a lead teacher, five early childhood teachers, five paraprofessionals and a clerical support staff person.



    In addition, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, through Title I funds, VHECEC will offer two Spanish-English dual-language immersion programs. Anna Rose, currently assistant principal at Harrison Community Learning Center, will be the District’s English Language Learner (ELL) coordinator next year. Rose is a strong advocate of bilingual education and points out that pre-school is the opportune time for children to learn a second language. At a recent school board presentation, Rose pointed out that learning two languages imparts benefits across the curriculum giving students cognitive advantages including increased retention. Dual language immersion programs produce students who are bilingual, bicultural and biliterate with increased cultural awareness and sensitivity. As adults, being bilingual is a professional advantage and, according to some studies, can provide a buffer from cognitive diseases like Alzheimers and dementia.



    Offering preschool classrooms at WCTC coincides with the District’s addition of a PPS high school Teacher Pathway and Early Childhood Pathway programs, giving juniors and seniors in these programs early college credit and field experience opportunities.  



    By providing our youngest students a strong start to their learning and cultivating dynamic and innovative educators for tomorrow, we truly are attaining our vision: educating and graduating each student prepared and inspired to contribute to the world.



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  • PPS students celebrate Black History Month

    Posted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 2/27/2018 1:00:00 PM

    Peoria Public Schools staff and students, particularly at our high schools, dedicate considerable time, energy and creativity to Black History Month celebrations.



    Manual Academy held a Family Dinner Theatre on Wednesday, February 21. The evening opened with Walk-Through History Displays. During dinner, guests watched student performances.



    The Manual Academy community also has enjoyed a Soul Cinema Film Festival each Tuesday and Thursday after school this month featuring films such as The Great Debaters, Dream Girls, The Pursuit of Happyness and many more. Guidance counselor Myskeshia L. Mitchell coordinated the month’s events.



    At Richwoods High School, students involved in the Minority Academic Advancement Project (MAPP) coordinate and promote the school’s Black History celebration. The theme this year is 90s television, with daily trivia, a spirit week, 90s music and an assembly written and performed by students. 



    Peoria High School students are observing Black History Month with “Mic Drop,” every Thursday during 6th period in February. Students are invited to perform poetry, spoken word, short speeches and music. PHS is also holding daily trivia contests, an essay contest and class projects. On Friday, February 16, student assemblies featured guest speakers, dance, drama and vocal performances, PHS Divas of the Den and the PHS Student March. 

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  • BU students help PPS students prepare for SAT

    Posted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 2/27/2018 10:00:00 AM

    For the past two years, the PPS Board of Education has included three student members. The student board members, often through the recommendation of their principal, apply for the position, submit an application letter and letters of recommendation and are interviewed by two Board of Education members. The three students, one selected from each high school, attend the school board meetings as non-voting members. In addition, the student board members are asked to complete one project which will benefit all PPS high school students.



    For 2017-2018 the three student board representatives are Mary Sherman, Richwoods High School; Selena Ruffin, Peoria High School; and Itiana Douglas, Manual Academy.



    As you know, all Illinois high school students must take the SAT, which the State of Illinois adopted as a graduation requirement last year.  Research shows that students who take advantage of SAT prep courses and tutorials have higher scores that students who do not prepare. Students, and their parents, who anticipate attending college often take SAT prep classes to increase their score. However, many classes and other resources are financially unattainable, and many students who do not anticipate attending college, do little to prepare for the test. While Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) addresses students’ mindset of low expectations, and each of our high schools schedule events and activities to help students prepare, resources for test prep are still greatly needed.



    In early January, student board member and RHS senior Mary Sherman approached me with an idea to provide SAT test prep resources to all PPS high school students. She cited a newspaper report showing students from other central Illinois districts score significantly higher on the SAT than PPS students. Mary feels strongly that the difference is due, not to discrepancies in students’ intelligence or the classes various districts offer, but in the resources students have available to prepare for the test.



    I suggested to Mary that she contact Becky Wood, of the Foster College of Business at Bradley University. Wood is the faculty advisor for BU’s newly formed chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for American (ALFA).  The chapter has approximately 25 members. Most, but not all, are business majors. ALFA chapters nationwide aim to establish connections between student members and the community in which their college or university resides, and engage in community service projects.



    Becky Wood agreed to meet with Mary, and the two brainstormed ways ALFA might help Mary achieve her goal. The project snowballed from there in very exciting ways. What has resulted is the donation of ten SAT prep books for each PPS high school library and a plan to connect Bradley University students with PPS high school students for mentoring and SAT coaching.



    Dr. Simon Petravick, advisor for Bradley’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter (an accounting honor society) acquired grant funding from the national Beta Alpha Psi organization to pay for the books, as well as other expenses associated with the mentoring program.



    Last week, Mary Sherman, Becky Wood, Dr. Petravick, representatives from the two Bradley student organizations,  principals Dr. Annette Coleman, Brett Elliott and Elizabeth Zilkowski and PPS AIO Thomas Welsh all met to brainstorm strategies, that in addition to books, will help PPS students with the upcoming test. As a result of this meeting, BU students will mentor and coach PPS students at Saturday and after-school SAT prep classes in March. BU students also will visit AVID classes, grade level assemblies and other small group meetings at the three high schools.



    Teens frequently will pay more attention and take more seriously advice and ideas from young people just slightly older than them, than from adults.  Sage wisdom from BU students may encourage some of our students who thought attending college was unattainable to take a closer look at opportunities and how to overcome obstacles to achieve success after high school.



    The Illinois State Board of Education has scheduled Tuesday, April 10th as the SAT Test day for all Illinois juniors. Students take the test at their own high school.

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  • PPS launches four CBL programs

    Posted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 2/10/2018 6:00:00 AM

    Peoria Public Schools (PPS) is one of nine Illinois districts selected last spring to pilot Compentency-Based Learning (CBL). After forming a district-level steering committee comprised of teachers, administrators and retired administrators, and collaborating with the other pilot districts, CBL programs are operating at the three PPS high schools.


    What are competencies?  Competencies are the knowledge, skills, and behaviors students must master in a specific content or performance area. With CBL, students advance upon mastery of essential skills and knowledge – competencies -- without regard to seat time or place. In other words, competencies might be mastered through employment, through an internship, through volunteer work or through online learning, in addition to in the classroom. Similarly, while typical students might require a full year to master specific competencies, some students might only require one semester. CBL gives students flexibility to advance once a skill or knowledge is mastered.


    One CBL program that started in two schools this month is the Peoria Options Program, offered at Peoria High School and Manual Academy. Peoria Options is for 17 – 21 year olds who have earned fewer than 20 hours of high school credit.  A rising senior must have a minimum of 19 credits, so the students in Peoria Options have freshmen, sophomore or junior status. The Peoria Options Program requires parents of the student to attend an orientation meeting. Peoria High School has two Peoria Options cohorts with approximately 40 students.  Manual Academy has one group with about 20 students. Students are required to pass the Illinois and U.S. Constitution text and the flag code assessment; take the SAT exam (a state of Illinois high school graduation requirement); successfully complete the Capstone Portfolio Competencies; successfully complete 15 hours of classroom instruction weekly and successfully complete 15 hours of employment, internship or community service weekly. 


    The Peoria Options Program partners with community organizations including Center for Prevention of Abuse, the Peoria Park District, Neighborhood House, New Millennium, Unity Point Health and Junior Achievement.


    We are excited about this opportunity for our students, along with other programs now underway, which will be announced soon. In coming decades, CBL may dramatically alter the high school experience for our nation’s students. By piloting Peoria Options and other opportunities for our students, Peoria Public Schools is leading the way.

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  • A week of guest readers and speakers

    Posted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 2/9/2018 5:00:00 PM

    This week Kellar Primary School hosted its 25th Annual Guest Reader Week. 100 local leaders including elected officials, business and non-profit executives, media representatives, educators and artists visited the school to read books to students. Each guest also spends time sharing with the children details of their professional lives.  The visits engage students and introduce them to an enormous variety of professional pathways.  Guest Reader Week is a program of the Kellar PTO, which purchases the books for the guest readers, which then become part of the Kellar library. Thank you to all of our guest readers for sharing your love of reading to Kellar students.



    Bringing speakers into our schools shows students that the Peoria community is invested in their future. Thanks to the sponsorship of Rotary Club of Peoria North, Kellar, Roosevelt Magnet School and Northmoor Primary School students enjoyed the high-energy multi-media presentation by pediatric occupational therapist and author Stacey Glorioso. Glorioso’s book Joshua’s Dragon tells the story of a boy who learns to overcome challenges and obstacles – in other words “conquer his dragons.” The presentation helps children understand and manage their emotions and realistic ways to tame their own dragons.


    Stacy Glorioso Joshua's Dragon at Roosevelt


    Friday, February 9, another distinguished speaker will visit Manual Academy for a presentation open to the community. The Manual Academy Robo-Rams welcomes Dr. Luther Beegle, NASA scientist and SHERLOC principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dr. Beegle will speak from 7 to 9 p.m. on The Robotic Exploration of Mars. Dr. Beegle worked on the Curiosity Rover which has been exploring Mars since 2012, and is leading a team building SHERLOC, an instrument for the next Mars mission which will search for potential signs of life. The presentation is the opening event for the FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifier on Saturday. The Manual Robo Rams are sponsored by Caterpillar Innovation and Technology Development Division and the Nannie M. Johnson Community Center, and the adult leaders are parent volunteers. 


    These are all wonderful examples of caring adults coming into our schools to work with our students. As I have written, for PPS students to succeed, we must create a two-way street. In coming weeks, I will be sharing exciting stories about our students going out into the community through internships and service opportunities.

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  • Celebrating outstanding PPS teachers

    Posted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 1/27/2018 9:00:00 AM

    I am fortunate to lead a team of outstanding and dedicated educators. This week I am happy to tell you about four of them. 


    I recently nominated three Peoria Public School teachers for the national 2018 LifeChanger of the Year award. Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, the national LifeChanger of the Year program recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 public and private school educators and employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.


    I nominated Mrs. Hedy Elliott-Gardner, School-within-in-a-School teacher at Lincoln K-8; Ms. Jitske Miedema, Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC) Culinary Arts Teacher, and Mrs. Debra Redington, the dance teacher for the Preparatory School for the Arts (PSA) at Peoria High School. 


    I nominated these three teachers because their programs are somewhat unique in our district and because all three essentially built those programs from the ground up. Most importantly, I nominated them because one of the criteria for the national LifeChanger Award is to create a nurturing environment for students, and I believe these three teachers do an amazing job in that respect by cultivating caring, respectful relationships with their students. 


    I invite you to visit and follow the link to each nominee’s profile on the LifeChanger of the Year website. I think once you read their profiles you will understand why I nominated these teachers.  If you know Mrs. Elliott-Gardner, Chef Jetty or Mrs. Redington, as a friend, colleague or PPS alum, I encourage you to leave your comment of encouragement and support.  Support from the community is one consideration in choosing the final LifeChanger of the Year, so please join me in supporting these outstanding educators.


    I am also very excited to tell you about Manual Academy science teacher Lori Ettinger.  Ettinger has been selected by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to be a writer for the National Science Test – only one of 19 U.S. educators selected and the only teacher from Illinois. NGSS is charged with upgrading national science standards to reflect major scientific advances and greater understanding of children’s cognitive development and the learning process. Ettinger has served as an Illinois Science Assessment Grader for the past two years, grading over 22,000 test items from middle and high school students.  Now, Ettinger will take the next step in her professional development and become a test writer, writing questions describing science-related scenarios with a list of accompanying questions.


    Current national science standards are based on the National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council and Benchmarks for Science Literacy from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The current standards have been in use for 15 years. The National Research Council created NGSS to develop standards reflecting major scientific advances as well as greater understanding of students’ cognitive development and the learning process.


    Peoria Public School students and families are so fortunate to have outstanding teachers such as these and many, many more to guide our children to a successful future. 

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  • Check out Career Coach, free service available through ICC

    Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Superintendent on 1/26/2018 2:00:00 PM

    Illinois Central College (ICC) has a great career coaching piece that I think would be great for our students and even their families.


    It is Career Coach -


    There are several things that anyone can do to help them look for a career:

    • Take an assessment to learn about themselves and get career suggestions based on interests
    • Browse careers to get information on wages, employment and training
    • Build resumes, etc.


    Career Coach is an online career assessment program offered by Illinois Central College (ICC). The program is free and available to anyone in the ICC district. 


    Career Coach offers a six-question interest assessment and a 60-question interest assessment.  It also asks whether the user is pursuing an associates degree, bachelors degree, masters degree or doctorate degree, or undecided.   Based on the results, Career Coach assigns three predominant traits such as realistic, social and creative and describes these traits. 


    Career Coach then presents the user with a general career areas which most closely match these traits, and within each general career area, presents more specific professions.  For example, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics category is further divided into Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Energy and Natural Resource Engineering and several additional specific career areas.  From there the user can compare salaries, education requirements and job outlook for the central Illinois region for each profession as well as ICC academic programs and classes that would be required. 


    Career Coach is extremely user friendly. It is an outstanding resource for Peoria Public School students and family members. Take a look at it!

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  • WCTC Salon open to the public

    Posted by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 1/18/2018 5:00:00 PM

    I frequently speak to students, parents and civic audiences about the importance of preparing Peoria Public School students for professions which do not require a bachelor’s degree but nonetheless will provide a sustainable, middle-income wage.


    The Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC) cosmetology, barbering and hair braiding programs are preparing students to work in an industry which analysts predict will see consistent growth in the next decade, with revenues reaching over $60 billion by 2020. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth for barbers, hair stylists, cosmetologists, manicurists, pedicurists and skincare specialists is expected to grow by 10 to 12 percent by 2024. 


    Currently 133 PPS high school students are enrolled in these programs. While some students pursue a salon career upon graduation, others use their skills to finance post-secondary education opportunities. 


    WCTC cosmetology students practice skills

    The WCTC Salon and Barber Shop is open to the public each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and the first and second Saturday of each month. 


    • Wednesdays and Thursdays: Noon to 3:30 p.m.
    • Fridays: Noon to 1 p.m.
    • Saturdays: 9 a.m. to noon


    Services offered are:

    • Hair cuts and hair styling
    • Hair braiding
    • Manicures & pedicures
    • Facials
    • Waxing


    Walk-ins are welcome or you can make an appointment by calling 309-282-6644.


    These are just some of the services offered to the public at Woodruff. The Culinary Arts program resumes its Thursday lunch special this week, starting the second semester in the Warrior Way Café. The café is open each Thursday school is in session from 11a.m. until 1:30 p.m. with a different menu each week. Menus can be found at and reservations can be made at

     Here is the Warrior Way Café for Thursday, January 25, 2018

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