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Itasca School District 10 > Peacock Middle School > The Charger

September 2002, Volume 6, No. 1
Updated: August 26, 2002
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Articles Due:
Monday, September 23, 2002
Ads due:
Friday, September 27, 2002

Peacock grad vaults into the national spotlight
By Jessica L.

Peacock alumna, Elizabeth Tricase (2000), placed fifth in the USA Gymnastics Championship held on Sunday, August 11, 2002 at the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (NBC photo)  

Watch Elizabeth Tricase compete in the US Gymnastics Championship.


Sunday, August 11, 2002, 6:00 p.m., Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio--Peacock graduate and Itasca resident Elizabeth Tricase (class of 2000), placed fifth in the US Gymnastics Championship, broadcast live on NBC.

Phones started ringing in Itasca. Many of Liz's former teachers and classmates as well as her neighbors were excited to see her on TV. They were even happier to see her doing so well.

Liz has been in gymnastics since she was three. The vault is her best event, but her favorite event has always been floor the exercise because she loves to dance.

As a member of the national team for one year, Liz has participated in international championships and high-level competitions. She said that it has been an incredible experience.

Liz has met the other gymnasts who compete in world championships and in the Olympics.

"All of the other gymnasts are very nice girls," said Liz. "It's hard to see that when you are watching on TV, but I've gotten to know them and have gone to camps and on trips with them." Of course, she admitted, they can all be very competitive too.

Elizabeth Tricase performs a challenging tumbling run during her floor exercise routine. NBC gymnastics commentator, Tim Dagget nicknamed Elizabeth “Air Liz,” because of her amazing leaping and tumbling ability. (NBC photo)  
When asked what she was thinking about while she was competing in the championship, Liz said, "all I was thinking about was doing my personal best, whether it was first place or last place, as long as I tried my hardest."

Liz noted that being on TV was a bonus, because she already had a lot of her friends and family in the stands cheering. "It was really exciting."

Injuries are one of the risks in the sport of gymnastics. Liz said that she tries not to think about getting hurt while she is competing. That is something that she tries to push far from her mind.

On August 14, 2002, Liz flew to Mexico to represent the United States in an exhibition. There were gymnasts from other countries, including Russia and Italy. Liz was the only American asked to participate. "It was quite an honor," she said.

Liz trains five hours a day, six days a week and sometimes a little extra, but for the most part about thirty hours each week.

“Never give up. Always have your goals in mind. Don’t let anything hold you back. If there’s something you want, there’s no reason why anyone should bring you down from it. Always do what you want to do.”
In discussing her intense training schedule, she said, "you have your good days and you have your bad days, but if you love something so much you don't let the bad days get you down."

Liz said that she tried to push through the hard times by keeping her ultimate goal in mind.

Even with all of her training, Liz still goes to school like every other junior at Lake Park High School. However, since her last period is study hall, she does get to skip that and leave early for practice.

In the little spare time that she does have, Liz enjoys hanging out with her friends and visiting the mall or seeing movies.

Liz waits for her scores to be posted. (NBC photo)  
When asked about the Olympics, Liz said that most kids dream about the Olympics when they are four or five years old and say that they are going to be in them when they get older. She never thought about any of that. She just liked gymnastics. It wasn't until recently that she started thinking the Olympics might be "kind of cool."

"You start progressing," she explained, "and you start to realize that maybe you should try for something like that. The Olympics are definitely one of my goals now."

When asked for some advice for Peacock students, Liz said, "Never give up. Always have your goals in mind. Don't let anything hold you back. If there's something you want, there's no reason why anyone should bring you down from it. Always do what you want to do."

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New teachers, new schedule and new stuff
Principal expects more from students and teachers
By Steve G.

The changes in store for Peacock students this year range from new teachers to new schedules and technology.

Ms. Okon is the new eighth grade Spanish teacher. Mrs. Sislow will teach industrial technology to start the year.

The sixth and seventh grade schedules are changing from full days to the A/B or block schedule, which was already in use for the eighth grade.

The gym floor was refinished. The gym now also features a digital sign that shows information for students and teachers.

The lighting has been improved in each classroom. Fifteen rooms also have new TV's, DVD's and VHS players.

According to Peacock Principal, Dr. Nickisch, there will be digital report cardsparents will be able to check their childrens' grades online.

In addition, students will now be able to take their floppy disks home.

When interviewed about his expectations for the year, Dr. Nickisch said that he was hoping for more honor roll and high honor roll students.

He added that he was looking forward to the pep rallies and other activities that are planned by the student council.

Dr. Nickisch commented that this year's eighth grade class was bigger than last year's, and that he wanted both the teachers and students to keep up.

As for the new sixth graders, Dr. Nickisch advised them to stay organized and to keep up with their homework.

Dr. Nickisch added that he hoped that everyone would have a great year.

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Itasca Park District building under construction
Now there's something for everyone
By Kyle P.

The new entrance to the Itasca Park District will be open to the public late this fall.  
The Itasca Park District underwent a lot of construction this past summer. This project follows three years of study by the park district adminstration and a committee of park district participants.

After a survey, they came to the conclusion that the park district needed more space for the fitness area and a room for teens and senior citizens.

Mr. Randy Schawel, the executive director of the construction explained that "the new areas will include a state of the art fitness center on the second floor, preschool and babysitting rooms, and a lobby and offices.
In addition, the old fitness room will be renovated into "The Lounge," an area for senior citizens during the day and for teens after school.

The Lounge will also be used for some special events and parties.
The Lounge will include computers, a big screen TV, a kitchen, game tables, and a pool table. Passes for The Lounge will be about $50 per year.

The construction and remodeling had a minimal effect on the usage of the park district over the summer. The preschool and Iris rooms were closed down but they were able to find areas to re-locate those classes.
When asked if the construction was on time for a January 2003 opening, Mr. Schawel replied that the construction was actually ahead of schedule, and the park district would probably be ready to open in the beginning of November.

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Bienvenido Ms. Okon
New teacher enthusiastic about Peacock
By Kaitlyn L.

Peacock's eighth grade Spanish teacher, Mrs. Portincaso, left in June, but now we have a new teacher, Ms. Christine Okon.

Ms. Okon is planning to start teaching in her own way, which she hopes will be exciting. She wants to help students learn by using not only books, but games, music, and videos.

Some special activities that she has planned include a Day of the Dead celebration, Spanish music, and a lot of hands-on projects.
Some special activities that she has planned include a Day of the Dead celebration, Spanish music, and a lot of hands-on projects.

When interviewed, Ms. Okon explained that she didn not have Spanish classes when she was in middle school, but that she did enjoy Spanish when she was in high school.

Ms. Okon attended Augustana College, where she majored in Spanish education. Her previous job was student teaching. She taught a class full time for fourteen weeks.

Ms. Okon commented that she wanted to teach at Peacock because she enjoyed teaching the middle school age.

She added that she really liked Itasca's small community atmosphere.

Some of Ms. Okon's hobbies are softball, biking, ceramics and being at the beach. She also enjoys a lot of other outdoor activities.

Ms. Okon listens to a variety of music, but she mostly likes Latino and country music.

The last book that she read was in Spanish, and it was written by Isabella Allende.

Students will no doubt appreciate the following note: Ms. Okon stated that she is planning to give only a moderate amount of homework.

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