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News/Highlights

Principal Harry CavanaughFrom Eastern Illinois University Website: With a career in education spanning six decades, Harry Cavanaugh has proven time and again his commitment to education and the students and communities he’s served. After graduating from EIU in 1969, Cavanaugh spent three decades as a business education teacher, guidance counselor and principal at Bunker Hill High School. From there, he used his skills as an educational leader to serve as principal at Gillespie High School – the school where he earned his high school diploma – before continuing his career as superintendent of Lebanon Community Unit School District 9 in until his retirement in 2010. Retirement didn’t last long, however. His passion for education brought him to Peter and Paul Catholic School in Alton, where he currently serves as principal. His true dedication may be best revealed through his decision to also teach English there—with no additional compensation—ultimately helping the school to continue serving students in the highest manner possible without having to fund additional salaries. Cavanaugh also created a Wall of Honor at Gillespie High School and initiated the distinguished alumni awards at Ss. Peter and Paul to recognize the successes of the schools’ former students. In each position he’s held and at every school, he’s been known to greet the students with a smile each morning, helping to start their day on a positive note and to create within its walls an unmatched culture of cheerfulness and caring.

Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic School Principal Harry Cavanaugh lends a hand Thursday in the pre-school classroom at the Alton school. Cavanaugh recently received the Distinguished Educator Award from Eastern Illinois University. By Scott Cousins - scousins@thetelegraph.com

Cavanaugh honored by Eastern Illinois University

ALTON — The principal of Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School spent Thursday teaching a pre-school class when they couldn’t get a substitute, and then he had to finish off the day as principal.

This is the type of thing Harry Cavanaugh just does, according to the Eastern Illinois Alumni Association, which awarded him with a Distinguished Educator Award at a ceremony last weekend.

The program noted that Cavanaugh “has proven time and again his commitment to education and the students and communities he’s served.”

Cavanaugh is a 1969 graduate of EIU, who went on to receive master’s and specialist’s degrees from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, spent approximately 30 years as a teacher, guidance counselor and principal at Bunker Hill High School. He then served as a principal at Gillespie High School before moving to Lebanon as superintendent.

He retired in 2010 but soon took over as principal at Ss. Peter and Paul.

“In each position he’s held and at every school, he’s been known to greet the students with a smile each morning, helping to start their day on a positive note and to create within its walls an unmatched culture of cheerfulness and caring,” according to the program.

On Thursday, Cavanaugh said it was all just part of his job, and if that made him distinguished, then so are a lot of other people.

“I was really humbled because I don’t really think I’ve done anything to distinguish myself from anybody else,” he said. “I wasn’t a teacher of the year or a published author, I’ve not started a foundation.”

“Some of these people have done a lot of wonderful things,” he added, referring to other award winners. “If they keep a sense of humor, make sure they act professionally, are always prepared and put kids first and foremost in everything they do.”

He said an advantage of working at a small school is he gets to interact with students.

“When I was in charge of a district, or even a high school, your day was pretty full with ‘things,’” he said. “A lot of them planned activities, but a lot of them that just come up in the course of the day.”

He also said one of the nice things about going to EIU was that the faculty was focused on the “whole person.”

As a freshman living in the dorms, during exams he woke up to a phone call from a professor, asking why he wasn’t at an exam that had started 30 minutes before.

“I sat down and she could tell I was frazzled,” he recalled. “She said ‘Sit down and relax, go get a drink, take the test and take as long as you need.’

“She didn’t have to do that for me,” he said. “But she chose to and it resonated with me, that they really cared.”

In the junior youth division, Sts. Peter & Paul took first place with the Evangelical School in second. St. Mary'sCatholic Church & School came in third while the Boys and Girls Club of Alton placed fourth. 

With the scale of this event, Huber is simply glad that the event went off, mostly, without a hitch.

"We had one little glitch, but if we only have one, I'd consider that lucky," Huber said. "One float just couldn't get going." 

After all was said and done, the parade-goers headed back home with a basket full of candy, Halloween spirit in their hearts and dreams of next year's parade entering their head. Certainly, as long as there are little ghouls and goblins roaming on Halloweens to come, the tale of the 100th Alton Halloween Parade will live on forever. 

FULL LIST OF WINNERS: 

Commercial:
1st - Dr. Vest 
2nd - Freer Auto Body 
3rd - Dream Home Realty Centre
4th- Humbert Road Dentistry

Junior Youth:
1st - Sts. Peter & Paul
2nd - Evangelical School
3rd - St. Mary's Catholic Church & School
4th - Boys and Girls Club of Alton

Senior Youth:
1st - Catholic Children's Home
2nd - Alton Middle School "Birdzilla" 
3rd - Boy Scout Troop 101
4th - Alton High School Tennis Team

Family & Neighborhood:
1st - The Witches Float
2nd - Hawkins Family 
3rd - Geisen Family
4th - Wunderlich Family

Club & Organization:
1st - SK8 Club with Grass & Stone
2nd - Alton Public Works
3rd - Lewis and Clark Community College
4th - Village of Godfrey

7th Grade Boys Won 1st Place in St. Mary's October Championship.