I Am Waters

Today is 06.07.2020

Number Of Homeless Students Higher In Some Rural Districts | Farmer City , Illinois | Pantagraph

Danny Terry suited up for every Blue Ridge High School football game this season — and then sat on the bench.
The senior hoped he’d be allowed to play his final year and have a chance at a scholarship that could be his ticket to college.
But there was a problem. At 19, Terry was homeless and had been out of school for a year, so technically he’d been in high school five years.
According to Illinois High School Association rules, after students enroll in ninth grade, they are not eligible for more than four years of competition in any one sport. “It’s black and white in this case,” said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Craig Anderson, who sees about six similar situations every year.
“I think they (IHSA) could have made an exception. It was disappointing,” said football coach Kent Miller, adding, “We considered Danny a part of the team and a friend to every player and coach.”
“He came to the school homeless, and didn’t know a person. The IHSA turns him down and he’s still enthusiastic and supports the school.”
That is a life lesson Miller said high school sports should be about.
“Football is a kind of brotherhood. He was welcomed with open arms,” said Miller.
Terry agreed: “I stayed in shape. I was there for my team. I made a lot of friends.”
While the homeless designation does provide some allowances to give students a chance for a good education, Blue Ridge Superintendent Susan Wilson said it was useless in trying to help Terry get an exception to play ball.
School officials in both Farmer City-based Blue Ridge and Ridgeview in Colfax often are faced with advocating for homeless students: The districts have the highest percentage of such students in DeWitt, Livingston and McLean counties overseen by the Regional Office of Education for that area.
Terry is one of 28 considered homeless in Blue Ridge so far this school year — 3.6 percent of the district’s enrollment of 780. Ridgeview, with fewer than 600 students, has about 37 homeless students, or 6.1 percent — compared to 48 homeless students or less than a half-percent in much larger McLean County Unit 5 with 13,314 students. In Bloomington District 87, where the Home Sweet Home Ministries and Safe Harbor homeless shelters are located, 85 students were homeless from the start of the school year to mid-January, which is 1.5 percent of its 5,600 students.