Evangelista, Schaefers win first RTHS staff critical thinking award

The first RTHS Staff Critical Thinking Award was given to Andrew Evangelista and Shaun Schaefers.

ROCHELLE — For all of us, 2020 was tough. Educators, students and parents were forced to cope with shelter in place orders, school closures and ever-changing plans to keep the learning happening.

For two Rochelle Township High School educators, teaching as they knew it ceased to exist. Music students could neither sing nor play for fear of spreading the virus. Music teachers didn’t have to adapt to smaller-sized classes, they didn’t have any. At RTHS, all music classes went remote.  

Band and choir kids are a tightly-knit family, in part because they share a love and in part because they spend so much time together. Students sorely missed the lack of collaboration and interaction and they didn’t like practicing alone at home. Many dropped the classes. 2020 passed without any halftime shows or live concerts. There was no pep band, no musical productions to rehearse.  

Our intrepid pair of teachers went looking for ways to save music, a bedrock of the RTHS curriculum from the very beginning. The music teachers created new classes to welcome students back in August. General music, piano studies and beginning guitar offer more students more opportunities. The classes have generated interest and enthusiasm.  

Now 11 weeks into the school year, they are teaching many students who have never sung, played or performed. One-half of Shaun Schaefer’s 2021 marching band had never marched before band camp in August.  Andrew Evangelista is in the midst of producing a madrigal-style vocal event with students never involved in this level of production.

Based on student reviews, it seems both are succeeding. Walk down their hall and listen. The music is back!

The first RTHS Staff Critical Thinking Award goes to Andrew Evangelista and Shaun Schaefers. 

Through the generosity of a $10,000 gift from the RTHS Class of 1961 and an additional $1,000 gift from the Rochelle Rotary Club, Renaissance is focused on students & staff who demonstrate exemplary critical thinking skills. Every month students and staff will be nominated for showing proof of (or growth in) critical thinking skills. 

A monthly $50 cash prize is awarded to each winner and another $50 for each will be designated for the local non-profit of their choice.

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