SEA & Cost-Saving Partnership with Memorial Health Care

image.jpgDear SEA Members,

At this week’s March 6th school board meeting, Superintendent Gill introduced a new partnership agreement between District 186 and Memorial Health Care Systems. The purpose of this partnership is to reduce SEA members’ out-of-pocket costs, improve and expand health services, and help keep premiums down.

The 186 Board of Education is expected to vote on this new partnership at the April 9th board meeting.

SEA Members:

  • will maintain their current insurance program and all associated benefits through Blue Cross Blue Shield.
  • are still free to see physicians outside of the Memorial Services.
  • must carry district insurance to access these benefits.

SEA members will receive a presentation of this new partnership with MHCS at our May 8th AR meeting. All members are welcome to attend.

Program summary:

  • Zero co-pay at all five Memorial Health Care Clinics. (Current co-pay is $25)
  • Free Virtual Care with SmartVisit 24/7. (Currently costs $40)
  • Nurse concierge service to assist with scheduling of appointments and making referrals. (Currently not available)
  • Free care coordination to align services and support members with more complex needs. (Currently not available)
  • 5 free health and wellness events per year.

Yours in Education,

Crysta Weitekamp
SEA President

Springfield Area Students Plan Actions To Address Gun Violence (, 3/6/18)

Student activists from Parkland, Florida, have toured the country speaking out about gun violence after a gunman killed 17 people at their school in February. They recently made a stop in Chicago and their cause has inspired students all over the country, including in the Springfield area.

About 20 students from a variety of local schools gathered at a table in the community room of a grocery store Monday evening. They discussed plans for a walk out and rally. A few adults representing activist groups that have organized events, including the women’s marches in Springfield, were on hand to help work out logistics, such as city permits.

Claire Farnsworth, an 18-year-old senior from Chatham, led the meeting. She got her introduction to activism after starting a petition about her school’s dress code last year. She found its limit on attire for females sexist. She went on to form a feminist club, and now, she’s also focused on addressing gun violence.

“Going anywhere honestly is a scary thing right now. For as long as I can remember, especially in high school, people have made school shooter jokes, which is kind of inappropriate, but that’s just the culture in which we live. The fact that you can joke about that because that’s so normal, it’s appalling and just distasteful. It’s just how we live. It’s just our culture.”

Farnsworth said she wants to get kids from all local schools at the table.

“There’s a lot of differences, not only culturally but demographically, and we want to make sure that everyone’s voices are being heard,” she said. “If not everyone’s involved, there’s no point in it.”

The ACLU’s Illinois chapter recently encouraged schools to respect free speech rights. Across the nation a student walk-out is planned for March 14, with rallies and marches to happen on March 24th.

ACLU lawyer Rebecca Glenberg said schools should take advantage of letting students acquire hands-on experience when it comes to civic engagement, and teachers shouldn’t shy away from discussion about the realities of current events. “Protection of minority viewpoints and listening to other viewpoints with an open mind are really important skills for a school to teach its students,” said Glenberg.

A statement from Springfield’s District 186 indicates it will respect students’ rights to organize, and won’t punish students for participating, as long as they come to an agreed-upon set of guidelines with the administration. The district emphasized the events don’t reflect its endorsement of any specific cause.

“Our goal is to allow peaceful and safe participation and minimize disruption of the school day,” the statement reads. “It is our responsibility during these times to keep students safe and be thoughtful and objective listeners.”

The students at the meeting at the grocery store believe gun violence can be stemmed by adding regulations, but they’re aware they don’t represent all kids.

For Aria Bender, activism runs in the family – her mom helps lead a local Black Lives Matter group. Her school, Springfield High, has gone through numerous bomb threats in the past year or so. Bender said she wants to see more conversation and action around bullying because maybe that would mean fewer young people would ever lash out in violent ways in the first place. And she wants adults to take her and her peers seriously.

“I don’t want people to get the wrong idea – I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh they’re doing this to get out of class.’ I want them to see we’re doing this with a purpose, but I don’t want adults to use this as a way to punish us,” said Bender.

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SEA Election Day: Tuesday March 13th, 2018

electiondayTuesday March 13th, 2018 is SEA Election Day. Members will have the opportunity to vote for candidates to represent them in the following positions: SEA President, SEA 1st Vice President, SEA Secretary, Elementary Representative, Middle School Representative, ESP Representative, Ethnic Minority Representative, NEA-RA Delegate.

The following candidates will be on the ballot in the March 13th SEA Elections.

(Click on candidate names for more information about them.)

SEA President:
Crysta Weitekamp: Current SEA President
Aaron Graves: Grant Middle School

SEA 1st Vice-President:
Jeffrey Garman: Jefferson Middle School
Angie Meneghetti: Grant Middle School

SEA Secretary:
Carrie Kincaid: Technology Department

Elementary Representative:
Meghan Kapanick: Jane Addams Elementary School

Middle School Representative:
Courtney Upperman: Washington Middle School

High School Representative:
No candidates

ESP Representative
Kathy Johnson: ESP Lawrence Education Center
Juan Morrison: Lanphier High School

Ethnic Minority Representative:
Juan Morrison: Lanphier High School

NEA-RA Delegate Candidates:
Corey Bond: Springfield Learning Academy
Juan Morrison: Lanphier High School
Kelly Sholtis: Building 1900
Kathy Gebhardt: Hazel Dell
LeAnn Divjak – Dubois Elementary School
Crysta Weitekamp: Current SEA President
Sara Robinson: Dubois Elementary School

(Up to 8 delegates will be elected.)

Crysta Weitekamp:

Current SEA President
Running for: SEA President, NEA-RA Delegate

District Experience:
This is my 22nd year of teaching in District 186. I began at the elementary level as a resource teacher and later moved to high school inclusion. I served as a District mentor for new teachers in Pre-K to HS for 4 years. I have proudly been National Board Certified since 2005 and have assisted others in attaining certification.

SEA Experience:
Current SEA President. I have been involved in union activities throughout my entire career. I’ve held the following positions – Elementary Solutions Chair, Secretary, Vice President (1st and 2nd), Bargaining Chair, Region Vice Chair, and President. I’ve diligently served on and chaired numerous committees representing SEA at the district and state level.

Goals for Assoc.:
I want ALL members to realize their importance in our association and the power of our collective voice. We are a strong organization, but we must stand together in unity and stop letting others divide us. From our district level to the state and federal level, we must continue to advocate for all of our members.

General Comments:
It is an honor and privilege to serve you as SEA President and to advocate for your needs. I love meeting with members daily, listening to concerns, and problem solving actual solutions. Together, we have accomplished a great deal, but there is still more work to do. We need to continue to insist on social emotional supports for all students as well as additional resources and programs so all may achieve to their full potential. We know that many students come to school with significant emotional needs that impact academic progress. I will continue to advocate for high quality training in this area for all members. I believe that all of our learning environments should be safe and secure and will continue to work with security, our district, school board, and the community to ensure the safety of all. I have the hard conversations so we can continue to move forward. Divided we accomplish nothing. We are stronger when we are together. Vote for me so together, we can continue our important work!

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Aaron Graves:

Grant Middle School
Running for: SEA President

District Experience:
I attended all grades K-12 in Springfield 186 under some of the district’s finest teachers and principals. I have taught more than 20 years for our district as well. 1 year Jefferson Middle School – Science/Reading. 4 years Harvard Park – 4th Grade General Ed. 1 year Regional Education – Truancy Program. 3 years Student Assistance Program – Black Hawk/ Wilcox / Butler Elementary. 13 years Grant Middle School – Technology / Reading Intervention / Literature / Writing.

Prior to 2011, I was a Building Association Representative (AR), elected delegate to Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly (IEA RA), Consortium for Educational Change (CEC) Conference attendee, elected Region 11 Vice-chair, Springfield Political Action Committee (SPACE) Chair, and Springfield Education Association First Vice-chair. I stepped away from union to fulfill military commitments and deployed to Afghanistan as an Army Engineer Officer in 2011-2012. Since returning to the union, I have served as Building AR, IEA RA Delegate and ran for Region 11 chair alongside Angie Meneghetti in the last 2016 SEA Officer Election.

Goals for Assoc.:
My overarching goal for the association is that it function as a strong local should. Building ARs should be leaders and problem solvers, connected with the union president and Uniserv Director, and make the district a better place for all. Currently, we need immediate establishment of safer and more orderly schools and better alternative education options. Secondly, we need implementation of proven and properly staffed academic and social emotional programs with a district accountability of student’s achievement in these areas. Third, we need a laser focus on ESP, educator and other SEA member salary, medical benefits and retirement. Our union team should be working right now, fostering relationships with board members while simultaneously negotiating a contract we lock in before the school year of our expired contract year begins. We have to assure that we are taking care of our own while we are taking care of everything and everyone else.

General Comments:
Our union needs change. It requires a leader diligent enough to get into your buildings and talk with all members. It needs a leader eloquent enough to sort and relay those concerns to larger audiences. And, it demands a leader tenacious enough to fight for you, your buildings and your students who want and deserve better. Springfield 186 should be a school system that we are not only proud to work for but a place we would be willing to recommend every school to our friends and even send our own children to. I am willing to work night and day to make that happen. But first, I need your vote.

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Jeffrey Garman:

Jefferson Middle School
Running for: SEA 1st Vice-President

District Experience:
10 years McClernand Elementary School; 1 year Jefferson Middle School.

SEA Experience:
Elementary Rep 2 years; 1st Vice President 2 years; AR 8 years, SPACE Chair, SPACE Member; Time Commitments Committee; Bargaining.

Goals for Assoc.:
To provide leadership for staff, students, and the community.

General Comments:
I have worked hard for all members and hope you give me the opportunity to continue to do so. I would appreciate your vote.

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Angie Meneghetti:

Grant Middle School
Running for: SEA 1st Vice-President

District Experience:
6, 7, 8th grade science teacher at Grant Middle School. I have been a teacher for 28 years and teaching in District 186 since 2001. I have served as Science department chair, member of SLT, ILT, PBIS, BIST teams, BETA Club, Science Club and Student Council sponsor. IMSA teacher for 13 years. District 186 Student Assessment Rubric Committee, Science Curriculum committee, District handbook committee, textbook selection committee and currently serve on the SEL committee

SEA Experience:
Building Association Representative, Middle School Solutions Chair (3 terms), 2nd Vice President (2 terms), 1st Vice President (2 terms), Region 11 Vice Chair (2 terms), Grassroots Political Activists for the IEA (2 terms), current member of the Legislative committee for the IEA, Grievance committee, Legislative Chair, Scholarship committee, S-Pace member, election committee for SEA. Attended and participated in numerous IEA RA and NEA RA conventions and IEA Core trainings and Midwest regional conferences.

Goals for Assoc.
To provide constant support and follow through on educational issues. To continue to openly and honestly communicate with all members. To fight for an end to violence in our schools. To support fair and equitable school funding in Illinois.

General Comments:
Thank you for continuing support and I would appreciate your vote.

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Carrie Kincaid:

Technology Department
Running for: SEA Secretary

District Experience:
SHS English/Speech teacher – years; GMS Language Arts teacher – 3 years; MS/HS Technology Teacher Instructional Leader – 12 years.

SEA Experience:
SEA Secretary 2017-2018; Bargaining Team: 2016-17 & 2017-18.

Goals for Assoc.:
Unity, transparency, and membership involvement.

General Comments:
Thank YOU for all your hard work in educating our students! I would appreciate your vote.

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Meghan Kapanick:

Jane Addams Elementary School
Running for: Elementary Representative

District Experience:
This is my 11th year teaching in District 186. I have been at Jane Adams for 4 years. I have taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades.

SEA Experience:
I have been an AR for several years. I have also been an Elementary Rep for 2 years.

Goals for Assoc.
My goal is to get more elementary teachers involved in the union and to make teachers more aware of union benefits.

General Comments:
We must come together in order for our union to work for us!

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Courtney Upperman:

Washington Middle School
Running for: Middle School Representative

District Experience:
4th years on contract

SEA Experience:
2017-2018 School year

Goals for Assoc.:
Have the middle schools become more united.

General Comments: None

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Kathy Johnson:

ESP Lawrence Education Center
Running for: ESP Representative

District Experience:
I have been with District 186 since 1989. I have been a special ed attendant and civilian security.

SEA Experience:
I am an A.R. Bargaining Co-chair, ESP Rep on Executive Board, ESP Solutions Chair, and Represented SEA at the NEA RA. I have also served on several SEA committees.

Goals for Assoc.:
My goal for the association is to continue to work towards a strong, unified membership. I believe all members have a voice and all voices should be listened to.

General Comments:
I would appreciate your vote and would love to continue serving as your ESP rep on our Executive Board.

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Corey Bond:

Springfield Learning Academy
Running for: NEA-RA Delegate

District Experience:
Six year veteran teacher; 6 years Social Studies teacher; 5 years ILT member; 1 year member PBIS Team; 2 years United Way Annual Campaign Team Leader, Social Studies Book Committee.

SEA Experience:
Four year Area Representative; career-long union member; S-PACE Steering Committee; By-Law Committee,; 29017 IEA RA Representative; 2015, 2016 and 2017 NEA RA attendee; St. Patrick’s Day Parade participant.

Goals for Assoc.:
The relevancy of our work as a union has never been more important. Although we have a large and robust union, various political factors threaten to impede our ability to draw membership and subsequently raise money. It is no secret that unions are in a battle for their very existence. We have seen neighboring states have their collective bargaining rights decimated by those in power with an insidious agenda. My first goal for the SEA is to increase membership by educating prospective teachers and support staff of the merits of our cause. Secondly, having worked on the S-PACE committee for the last two years, it is imperative that we court politicians and board members who advocate policies which empower teachers, parents and students. Thirdly, I want there to be an increased level of general involvement by the rank & file teachers and ESP’s in the district. This is extremely important because many times members seem disconnected from the substantive work happening at various levels in the union. Springfield, because of its relationship with the Capital, is in a unique position to advocate for pro-teacher policies and reforms in how we educate our children. Lastly, organization transparency, advocating for safe working environments for teachers and students.

General Comments:
I am committed to attending all informational and general caucus sessions to best represent the issues and concerns of both District 186 and the State of Illinois.

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Juan Morrison:

Lanphier High School
Running for: ESP Representative, Ethnic Minority Representative, NEA-RA Delegate

District Experience:
I have been employed with School District 186 for 24 year as in-house teacher security.

SEA Experience:
2 ½ years’ experience as an AR Representative and served on the Executive Committee.

Goals for Assoc.:
To enhance the skills and knowledge of ESP members.

General Comments:
I appreciate the opportunity of being selected to the NEA Conference to sharpen my skills.

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Kelly Sholtis:

Building 1900
Running for: NEA-RA Delegate

District Experience:
I have taught both Elementary and High School, served as a Title I Reading/Math teacher and a Student Assistance Program Leader. I currently am the support person for Teacher Evaluation and Braided Behavior Support Systems.

SEA Experience:
I have served as an Association Representative, Public Relations Chair, Elementary Representative, and 1st and 2nd Vice President. I currently serve as the Professional Development Chair.

Goals for Assoc.:
Engage all members in issues that affect teaching and learning.

General Comments:
I would appreciate your vote.

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Kathy Gebhardt:

Hazel Dell
Running for: NEA-RA Delegate

District Experience:
I am in my 18th year as an Educator with District 186

SEA Experience:
I have been a member of SEA since I began teaching in 2000.

Goals for Assoc.:
My main goal for the association is not to forget the members in the association.

General Comments:
I am interested in becoming a delegate for Region 11 IEA-NEA again this year. Last year’s experience at the assembly was an eye-opener as to how everything comes together to attempt to make things happen. I want to do my part to represent the interests and concerns for you, our members. I want to continue to increase my knowledge of the IEA-NEA as to better represent the members of our delegation. I appreciate the consideration of our vote. Thank you!

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LeAnn Divjak:

Dubois Elementary School
Running for: NEA-RA Delegate

District Experience:
This is my 23rd year in the district. I have taught Kindergarten and now 1st grade.

SEA Experience:
3rd year being AR, 2 years AR Delegate, 2 years National Delegate, ESPACE Committee, Sue Handy Scholarship Committee.

Goals for Assoc.:
To help unite members and help members become more involved.

General Comments:
This is my 2nd year being a RA Delegate and 3rd being a National Delegate. It is a very rewarding experience and I look forward to representing you again.

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Sara Robinson:

Dubois Elementary School
Running for: NEA-RA Delegate

District Experience:
I have been teaching since January of 2004 for the district. Two years prior to starting in January I did my student teaching and methods hours for the district as well. I have taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th, middle and currently kindergarten for the district.

SEA Experience:
This is my first year as an SEA RA for my building.

Goals for Assoc.:
Being in an elementary position, I see many areas of need. However, I think my focus would be around empowering all teachers with the tools and resources they need to feel supported in our schools by families, parents and administration. Working together to ensure that teachers can feel supported and purposeful.

General Comments:
In this type of position you need to be a problem solver and not a part of the problem. To enact change you need to be positive, direct and determined. This is my opportunity to make things better and to be a part of positive changes for our teachers and district.

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2018 District 186 Staffing Timelines



Jan 25-Feb 26: Building Allocations

  1. Staffing allocations will go out to principals on January 25th.
  2. Staffing will be returned to HR by February 26.
  3. Staffing cuts result in displacements.
  4. Volunteers are considered first. If there are no volunteers, then displacements are made by seniority.

Mar 16-Apr 6: Displaced Process

  1. Displaced teachers are placed on a list in order of seniority.
  2. A master list of known vacancies will be shared with each displaced teacher.
  3. Displaced teachers shall contact principals of the buildings that have vacancies, either in person or by a phone call to learn about the position and to schedule a visit.
  4. Displaced teachers will select their top three choices of positions from the master vacancy list based on seniority and certification requirements.
  5. The SEA office will receive displaced choices and assign displaced teachers into positions based on seniority and certification.

“The Pool”

  • A displaced teacher may select to stay in the pool to select a vacant position.
  • After the last day of school, any teacher who remains in the “pool” will be placed in a position by the Director of Human Resources.

The RIF (Reduction in Force) Process

  • Done by district seniority.
  • RIF groupings – teachers with two or more ‘Needs to Improve’ evaluations will be RIF’d regardless of seniority.
  • Notified by registered mail 45 calendar days prior to the end of the school year.
  • Recall based on openings and seniority.

Apr 9-May 11: Voluntary Transfer

  • Positions available for voluntary transfer will be listed on the District Intranet for 4 days starting on April 11th and running through May 8th. This is updated daily.
  • Teachers interested in applying for a voluntary transfer need to apply electronically on the District Intranet.
  • A minimum of the 3 most senior teachers that apply for any position must be interviewed.

Additional Vacancies after Voluntary Transfer Process

  • Positions will be listed on the District 186 website through the third Friday in July.
  • Currently-employed teachers may apply for these positions after the second Friday in May.
  • There is no obligation to interview based on seniority.

ESP Procedures

  • The process is very similar to certified staff.
  • Occurs 1 month prior to the beginning of the school year.

‘Contract Fulfilled’

  • Released at the March 6th board meeting.
  • Hired prior to August 1.
  • Hired August 2 or after.
  • Update contact information with the district.

If you have questions, email SEA president, Crysta Weitekamp at or call her at 217-787-7060.

After-school programs on chopping block again (, 2/18/18)

Federally funded after-school programs that serve about 1,500 students in Springfield are once again on the chopping block in President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.

This is the second year Trump has proposed axing the federal program known as 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Congress last year overturned the president’s request and restored $1.2 billion, keeping the sites open nationwide and in Springfield.

The administration argued there is no evidence the program has been effective, a claim leaders of the sites said simply was not true.

Bill Legge, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois, said last week he expects funding will remain.

“I’m not freaking out because we’ve been here,” Legge said. “This is one of the programs that is very well supported on both sides of the aisle.”

The federal program helps school districts, churches and nonprofit groups nationwide provide after-school programs for 1.7 million schoolchildren, predominantly from low-income households.

In Springfield, the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Springfield Urban League use the federal funds to operate 20 after-school sites at District 186 schools, as well as at St. Patrick Catholic School and the local chapter of the NAACP’s back-to-school/after-school program at Calvary Academy.

Each site is open until 6:30 p.m. While there, students get help with their homework from certified teachers, a healthy snack and experience enrichment opportunities, such as garden club, dance lessons and playing basketball.

The federal program costs parents $40 per year, but waivers and reduced amounts are offered. It is one of two options available for Springfield parents for after-school supervision at schools.

The other, offered by the Springfield School District, is known as SCOPE. The district’s program, however, is more expensive, at $70 per week for full-time students.

Several parents last year said if 21st Century was eliminated, they would be forced to scramble to find child care and may be forced to quit their jobs.

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Good Deed: Foundation funding provided students great opportunity (, 2/16/18)

This past fall my fourth-grade students were awarded a science grant from the Springfield Public Schools Foundation. The Foundation offers a variety of grants to District 186 teachers.

This grant allowed us to purchase enough materials for both fourth-grade classes to dissect and learn about owl pellets. It was a great opportunity for young students to learn about basic science dissection. Each student was able to reconstruct their skeleton that came from inside the owl pellet. We shared this with families at our Math and Science night.

We would like to thank the Foundation for this opportunity. We couldn’t have done it without them! We invite you to visit our classroom website,, to see this project.

Shellie Brunsman

Fourth-grade teacher at Wilcox Elementary School


School District 186 officers surprise student facing hardships (, 2/12/18)

Many times, parents and teachers may not realize when a child is struggling.

One student at Southeast was having a hard time.

Now a viral District 186 post, reaching over 10,000 people within one day, shows how two school officers took money out of their own pockets to buy something special for that student.

Two Southeast High School officers, Andy Tinsley and Larry Hale, presented freshman Johnathon Wood with his very own Kindle.

“I was just so amazed,” Wood said. “They were so nice.”

But this kind gesture comes after hardship.

“He was down,”1st-year Resource Officer Andy Tinsley said. “He was just down in the dumps.”

“He would push me around,” Johnathon said. “Call me names [and] talk about my family.”

He reached out to the officers saying he was getting bullied in school.

“How hard bullying is and it just brought me and them closer,” Wood said. “And we talked about like, how I like reading. We just stuck together and we’ve just been bonding ever since.”

According to, reports are going up, which may be due to raising awareness.

But for Johnathon, there was more.

“He said his mom went to work from 5 am to 5 pm every day,” Tinsley said. “He was just so proud of her and he worried all the time.”

“We began to get a little picture of what this kid was going through and our hearts went out to him,” Southeast High School Security Officer Larry Hale said.

Johnathon’s escape is reading books. He went through 5-6 books a week.

“An escape and peace of mind,” Johnathon said.

District 186 officials say students can struggle.

“Whether academically, socially, emotionally,” Public Relations Marketing Coordinator for District 186 Bree Hankins said. “When they have issues, we’re just glad we have so many caring adults. There’s a wealth of support there for all of our students.”

“Over my 24 years here,” Hale said. “And 30 years coaching basketball… hundreds [and] hundreds of kids.”

Hale has helped out many kids who confide in him with their struggles.

“Have a good heart,” Tinsley said. “Good things happen.”

“I didn’t think they would get me that,” Johnathon said. “It’s been making my day. I’ve been smiling ever since.”

Johnathon said he plans on going to Harvard to become a book writer or engineer.

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