October 28, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Sign ‘em up: SJO, Wagners help recognize high school seniors during pandemic

St. Joseph-Ogden High School senior Jordan Stiverson received a surprise when he looked out his window on Tuesday.

SJO Principal Gary Page and the school’s Office Secretary, Lori Hoveln, had placed a sign in his front yard.

The sign, made by St. Joseph-based Wagner Signs and Graphics, features a Spartan wearing a graduation cap and says 2020 SJO Graduate with the student’s name. Every high school senior received one.

Page said the district got the idea from another area school district.

“We all agreed it would be a good idea,” he said. “It was a lot of fun doing it and hopefully a little bright spot for our seniors.”

Stiverson’s mother, Melissa Schrock, said her son was very happy and excited to see the sign and familiar faces from school, especially with school on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think just seeing a familiar face from school outside of a Zoom or Hangout cheered him up,” she said.
Schrock said the sign was a bright moment in an uncertain time.

“I was humbled and excited for Jordan because I knew it made his day, well maybe even his week or month at this point,” she said. “But I was not surprised they did this for all the seniors because our district and administrators are the best.”

Jen Wagner, co-owner of Wagner Signs and Graphics, said they jumped at the idea to help.
In fact, she was already working on signs for eighth-grade students at St. Joseph Middle School to celebrate their transition to high school.

Just before she went to post the signs to their store’s Facebook page, she received a call from the high school explaining they wanted to do something for the senior class.

“I held off on advertising until they had their order picked up to save on the surprise,” Wagner said.
Wagner said as a school board member for District No. 169, she was honored to attend last year’s eighth-grade graduation.

“This will certainly not replace that,” she said, “but it’s something.”

MIki Ziller Wesley’s son, Sam, had his sign delivered by SJO Superintendent Brian Brooks and SJO Athletic Director Justin Franzen.

“We are very thankful that Mr. Brooks and Mr. Franzen took the time to recognize the 2020 graduates that have had their final quarter impacted by this pandemic,” she said.

Leslie Landreth’s stepson, Brodie, was also appreciative of the sign and for the efforts made to recognize the senior class.

“I thought it was a nice way to celebrate them since they are missing out on a lot of senior things,” she said.

The Wagners will also be adding paper and vinyl graduation banners to their online store so area seniors can still celebrate their graduation.

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