Around The Town

IALF Torch of Leadership 2023 winners announced:
Congratulations to the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation’s 2023 Torch of Leadership winners: Allan Worrell (IALP ’88), Randy Sims (IALP ’84) and Jeff Adkisson (IALP ’04).

Alumni, friends and the IALP Class of 2025 gathered at Destihl Brewery in Normal to celebrate this year’s winners. The purpose of our Torch of Leadership Award is to recognize alumni or friends of the Foundation and leadership program who have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills through personal commitment and service to agriculture in their occupation, community, government or education. These contributions can be at a local, state, national or international level.

Routt senior earns college board program award:
Amanda Laumakis, a senior at Routt Catholic High School, received recognition from the College Board National Recognition Program, which celebrates academic achievements of sophomores and juniors in high school.

Laumakis earned the National Rural and Small Town Award. To be eligible, a student must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, have PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 assessment scores that are within the top 10 percent of assessment takers in the student’s state and program or earned a score of 3 or higher on two or more AP exams, and attend school in a rural area or small town.

Eligible students are invited to apply for recognition during their sophomore or junior year and are awarded at the start of the next school year.

Laumakis is the daughter of John and Juliana Laumakis of Jacksonville.

Long-time local educator named Routt Parade Grand Marshal:
A beloved Spanish and English teacher who has spent the past half century in education served as grand marshal of the Routt Catholic High School homecoming parade on Friday, Sept. 22.

Cleta TerHark, of Franklin, retired from Routt at the end of the 2022-2023 school year after 54 years of teaching in local schools. She taught Spanish and English for 11 years at Routt, which is where she began her career in 1968. Between her stints at Routt, TerHark taught Spanish and English at Meredosia High School for 18 years and the same subjects at Jacksonville High School for more than 20 years in total.

Her teaching career spans several generations of students, so seeing the children — and the grandchildren — of a former student in her classroom became a frequent experience. “When it first happened, it was a shock,” said Terhark, “but, after that, it was ordinary.”

Being asked to serve as grand marshal for Routt’s homecoming parade was a surprise and “made me feel loved,” she said.

It is a full circle moment for TerHark, since she began and ended her teaching career at Routt. “It all seems like perfect closure,” she said.

Terhark won the Bill Russell Award for Excellence in Education in 2008 and was honored

with the Marilyn Merris Distinguished Service Award in 2022, among other accolades.

Hospital 5K/10K Race celebrates 29 years:
Online registration is open for the longest-held annual running race in the city.

The Jacksonville Memorial Hospital 5K/10K presented by Gatorade kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, on the campus of the nonprofit hospital, 1600 W. Walnut St., Jacksonville.

“Be prepared for a personal record as both courses are flat and fast,” said Kevin Eckhoff, who has served as the director of the race since its start in 1994, when the event was known as the Passavant-Gatorade 5K/10K.

Participants in the Jacksonville Memorial Hospital 5K/10K presented by Gatorade start the 2022 event.

Online registration is open through Oct. 21. Cost is $30. Register by Oct. 10 to guarantee a race-branded tech shirt. Registration fees are $35 on the day of the race. To register online, visit

First, second and third place awards will be presented to male and female runners in 13 age categories. In addition, the first 200 runners to cross the finish line receive a custom finisher’s medal and all participants will be eligible to win prize drawings.

In-person registration and packet pick-up will be offered from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Springfield Running Center, 2943 W. White Oaks Drive, Springfield. A second opportunity to register in-person will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20, in the main lobby of Jacksonville Memorial Hospital.

Proceeds from this year’s race benefit the Jacksonville Food Center and the Cass County Food Pantry.

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