Civiltech staff love to support their kids! Often our staff’s volunteer activities are in support of our little ones, their schools, and their extracurricular activities. As part of Civiltech’s 35 Signs of Kindness initiative, Hugh Gilgunn, P.E., and Jen Hyman, P.E., shared their volunteer activities providing leadership in support of their kid’s schools.

Hugh Gilgunn – Getting his Scholastic Game On

Hugh has a child currently in 8th grade at St. Emily’s School in Mt. Prospect who is active in Scholastic Bowl. After their team’s success in fall tournaments, Hugh reached out to their coach and asked if she is planning to enter the team in the Elementary School State Scholastic Bowl Championship in the spring. The coach stated that she supervises many 8th grade activities during that time frame and cannot commit the time necessary to prepare but will fully support a parent taking over the reins for the spring.

Given the go ahead, Hugh began working with the 8th grade team in January. He set up practices to be held once a week before school, with plans to increase to twice a week in April. To qualify for regionals, teams must have participated in three matches. To meet this requirement, Hugh set up 4 sets of matches with other area elementary schools that occurred in February.

For materials, he researched past Scholastic Bowl questions and assigned the kids specialty topics that they could build expertise in such as history, music, and pop culture. In addition to reviewing sample questions, the team works on strategies, such as how to navigate a “toss-up question” and manipulating the buzzer to prevent the other team completing the bonus questions.

Next on the road to State is a forthcoming round robin style regional tournament. Winners of those tournaments will then proceed to sectionals, followed by the State-level competition.

Between prep time, practice, and other games, Hugh has donated many hours to this effort. He enjoys the opportunity to be part of his child’s extracurricular activity, to see the kids learn to strategize and collaborate as a team, and to brush up on his own scholastic knowledge along with them. Hugh says, “Some days, it’s like that TV game, Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader.”

Jen Hyman – Little Ones, Hoops, and an Appropriate Whistle

Jen Hyman has children at St. Raphael school in Naperville. Prior to the pandemic and her children beginning school there, intramural sports were offered for younger students in 1st to 4th grades, with competitive team sports offered for 5th through 8th grade. This year, in an effort to bring back intramurals and offer an opportunity for her 2nd grade daughter to play sports with her peers, Jen reached out to the Athletic Director and administration to restart intramural basketball for younger students.

To build the program, Jen started by researching practice templates for age appropriate learning. She also took advice from her dad, a former St. Raphael coach, dedicated volunteer, and basketball referee. His #1 tip: encouraging her to purchase a Fox 40 Pealess Whistle to unleash an appropriately loud and clear tweet capable of grabbing the attention of a gym full of kids and bouncing basketballs.

She was happily surprised with the robust response to the program, with 60 participants registered for the Fall 2022 session. Jen led the 1st and 2nd graders, and the school’s Athletic Director led 3rd and 4th graders, both with the assistance of parent volunteer coaches. Sessions combined basic games rules and structure, skills training, scrimmages and an overall focus on fun. Jen stated that her learning curve involved how to efficiently organize so many kids and gain an understanding of what they are capable of absorbing at that age. She admits that using treats and prizes as rewards was an effective coaching tool, especially with prizes for the best listener each day. The program evolved to find its ‘sweet spot’ of balancing activities within the 1-1.5 hour timeframe through both the Fall and Winter sessions, which combined had over 110 participants for all grades.

Having played basketball as a young girl and through high school, Jen enjoyed the opportunity to help introduce the young kids to the sport and provide an avenue for them to build teamwork skills with their school friends. At the end of each session, the kids gained a sense of pride in playing for their school with a huddle and cheer of “Go Redwings!” Jen’s dad also caught a glimpse of her after a session, the proper whistle donned around her neck and the school’s infamous yellow toolbox of first aid supplies in hand, announcing with pride: “the torch has been passed, you have the box!”

With the success of the basketball intramural program this season, Jen is excited to continue coaching next year and following in the footsteps of her parents’ volunteer efforts at the school.