Everyone raves about the great schools in Troy, yet Freeman Elementary leaves much to be desired from the outside appearance. However, the teachers within are fantastic, and students are incredibly comfortable here. The lack of air-conditioning is a concern for many in the community, though each year this problem is discussed and thus I would assume the building will eventually be replaced or rewired.
I have a difficult time 'rating' the Collinsville school district. Yearly amazing students graduate from here, attend awesome colleges with outstanding test scores. Yet an equal if not greater number of students drop out prior to graduation and typically blame the lack of school support for their decision. I know this district is doing some things right....I just hope it can continue to improve for the sake of all the students who attend here.
We spent a lot of time house hunting in the Hamel area...and honestly, the school is part of what 'scared' us into another local community. Hamel eventually merges into the Edwardsville school district, so we had no doubt that our children would attend a high quality high school...but the Hamel elemntary school is decades behind in terms of facilities for students. Now having coworkers whose children attend here I know that the teachers are fantastic and students do well here....but the facility itself is dissuading.
Friends of ours send their two daughters here and rave about the education they have received at Trinity Lutheran. The Edwardsville school district is not at all bad...but the religious aspect of Trinity as well as the small class sizes 'sold' them on sending their girls here. They have been thrilled with the education the girls have received - both are incredibly intelligent and involved in extracurriculars.
Cahokia Mounds is a fun way to spend a beautiful day outdoors...the entire area is seeped in local history. Part of the fun is actually climbing the mounds - a great way to get some exercise and let the kids run around. There is also a nice museum/indoor area. Many high schools visit here yearly to expose their students; unfortunately few local schools take the time to take advantage of this option. Definitely worth a visit...
We heard about the Cherokee District upon moving to the St. Louis area, and sadly it took us several years to make the time to visit. Unfortunately we were very disappointed; everything was incredibly overpriced and several of the retailers even laughed that they can make way more money off ebay than they ever could an actual customer in their store. Also, the presence of barred stores is quite intimidating.
The Sizzor Shack does not look like a lot from the outside, as it is located in a strip mall next door to a gas station, but inside you will appreciate the service. Haircuts here are affordable - between $13-15 currently - and they will service men and women. They are also very good at working you in for an appointment if needed.
Prior to finding a local barber, I visited University Hair several times and was never disappointed - my current barber is just now more convenient. University Hair is a husband and wife team, but both cut men's and women's hair and do an excellent job. Prices are very affordable - cuts around $13. My wife also has had her hair colored here and says it is a great deal at only $40. Terri and Cindy are incredibly nice people and do a great job with all the customers they work with.
I am not a huge Chinese food fan, but the "China Restaurant" is fabulous. I have tried many different entrees and have not been disappointed by any; my favorite is the Cashew Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken. Entrees are HUGE - they could easily be shared by two, and the restaurant is prepared to send you home with a take-out box filled with leftovers. Crab Rangoons here are another favorite with my family. Food is incredibly affordable - lunch items are always under $5.
Kellys certainly does not look like much from the outside - in fact, it appears just like any other gas station you would find on the highway! The cuts of meat here are superb, however; the meat is very tender and we trust the quality of what we are purchasing (not always true when buying from a large grocery store). The deli sandwiches are also great; if you need a quick lunch on the go, stop through Kellys...you'll probably be shocked at the quality!