Grant Funding to Help Establish Computer Science Program at Bluffs, E-Sports at Bluffs, and Winchester

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 2, 2022 at 10:05am

An area school district is receiving an assist from a West Central Illinois corporation to add computer classes and sports to its curriculum.

The Tracy Family Foundation has awarded Scott-Morgan CUSD #2 a grant worth $20,000 toward the establishment of both a computer science curriculum and an e-sports program.

Social studies teacher Zack Morrissey says there has been a lot of interest in adding these programs to Bluffs for some time now. “Last year, kind of at the beginning in the fall, we wanted to do an e-sports program. We co-op a lot of our stuff with Winchester and neither school offered that so we were hoping to build that program. We had an interest meeting and 40 kids came out so the interest was definitely there, we just needed to find the funding.

Then the state passed that all schools will have to offer computer science for students, and we really didn’t have that at the time, so we thought we will just try to kill two birds with one stone and try to put this grant together to not only bring computer science programs to Bluffs, but we could also use that to build an e-sports program for both Bluffs and Winchester.”

Morrissey says that after the addition of Jordan Mueller to the staff last year, they were able to work together on developing a path to include the programs and that led to them reaching out to the Tracy Family Foundation who helped guide the pair of educators through the grant writing process.

Morrissey says they submitted the application at the end of the school year and were notified today that they received the $20,000 grant. He says work is already underway to develop both programs, including contacting the national e-sports league for high schools who is assisting them in developing the program for both districts.

Morrissey says e-sports is more than just video gaming, and it’s one of the fastest growing activities in Illinois schools. “It is all different types of gaming. You can probably think of like the shooter games but there are also puzzle games, sports games, team-based games, and then there is the other component where you can actually stream it so people that have an interest can do like broadcasting or a future in streaming. So we can accommodate those kids and they can be a part of the program too even if they don’t want to play the games.

It’s one of the fastest-growing extracurriculars in the State of Illinois. Many schools now are even offering scholarships for e-sports. So the fact that we can now bring this opportunity to our kids and get them a step up is amazing. We can’t thank the Tracy Foundation enough for the generous support.”

Morrissey says as soon as the funds are received they will start purchasing the equipment and hope to start offering the new programs sometime during the first quarter of the upcoming school year.