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Thumbs up to 48th annual Southern Illinois Society for High School Achievement Banquet on Tuesday at the SIU Student Center Ballroom. The event is the result of a longstanding partnership of school administrators, guidance counselors and The Southern Illinoisan newspaper to acknowledge the academic and leadership activities of the region’s best and brightest. High school can be a trying period in a person’s life. It is easy to get caught up in popularity, to have your vision blurred by homecoming, prom and athletic events. But, conscientious high school students lay a sound foundation for a successful life by their prep achievements. Congratulations to the students who were honored.

Thumbs down to counties passing gun sanctuary resolutions. So far, Saline and Perry county boards have passed such resolutions. The non-binding resolutions call for sheriffs to not enforce any new gun laws enacted by the state. In most instances, the sheriff’s departments state their approach to enforcing gun laws will not be affected by the resolutions. Board members claim they are using the resolutions to send a message to state legislators. That is their right, but they may also be creating a public relations nightmare for their own law enforcement bodies. In light of that, we would prefer the county boards communicate to our legislators through more conventional methods — the telephone, email or personal visits.

Thumbs up to, er, Coach Jerry Kill for taking the reins of SIU’s athletic department. This isn’t meant to denigrate outgoing athletic director Tommy Bell. As Kill noted in his introductory news conference, Bell’s hands were frequently tied due to budget constraints. If SIU was going to make a change, Kill was the obvious choice. Kill is wildly popular among Saluki fans. He has endeared himself to the community, and he has shown a commitment and work ethic that is unsurpassed. As promised, Kill has hit the ground running. Hopefully, Kill can be as successful in Lingle Hall as he was on the McAndrew Stadium sidelines.

Thumbs up to Southern Illinois University for finally getting around to hiring a professional enrollment manager. Despite cavernous drops in enrollment, SIU has not had a full-time person in that position since 2011, and the position has been vacant since 2014. Jennifer DeHaemers officially begins work May 14. DeHaemers said she’ll start by gathering data to determine where students are coming from, what the SIUC student experience is like, how they’re “navigating the educational pathway” to the university and why some are leaving. Because the enrollment manager position has been vacant for so long, that data-gathering effort is long overdue, she said. Next, she’ll put together an enrollment management plan, which could take nine months to a year.

Thumbs up to Saluki golfer Peyton Wilhoit for being selected for an at-large spot in the 2018 NCAA men's golf championships Wednesday. The Missouri Valley Conference player of the year will be one of just five individuals competing at the NCAA regional in Norman, Oklahoma, on May 14-16. He became the second Saluki to ever get an individual invite to the NCAA championships, joining Richard Tock, who advanced in 1972.

Thumbs up to the staff of Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge for planting pollinator gardens on the refuge. With bee and monarch butterfly populations in decline, every bit of habitat for these endangered, and vitally important critters, is valuable. The most prominent pollinator garden at the refuge is located at the Frank Bellrose Preserve overlook. About 1,500 plants were planted at that site alone. The overlook is located just north and west of Century High School.

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