Those Who Make a Difference

Those Who Make A Difference Award Winners



Niles West sophomore Emmanuella Anyanwoke, Niles West Physical Welfare Director Omar Alebiosu and Niles North freshman Corban (CJ) Hood-Webb were in the spotlight February 9, when the Niles Township High School District 219 Board of Education honored them with its Those Who Make A Difference Award.

  Emmanuella West student

Niles West Principal Karen Ritter recognized Anyanwoke and Alebiosu for organizing D219’s first-ever Black Teen Summit, which will be held on February 24 as a culmination to the district’s celebration of Black History Month. 

“Emmanuella came to Niles West two 2 years ago from Nigeria to our EL (English Learners) program,” Ritter said. “She is modest and reserved, and when I asked her about her involvement in planning the Black Teen Summit, she said, ‘Oh, you know, I attended some meetings and gave some ideas,’ but when I talked to Omar Alebiosu, he said she is an amazing student who provides valuable insight into the Black teen experience, and when Emmanuella talks, people listen.”

“Emmanuella received the Niles West Principal’s Recognition Award last year. She considers herself an introvert, and she thanks her teachers, Ms. (Science teacher Poonam) Patel and Ms. (ELL teacher Jennifer) Meyer for helping her break out of her shell, and we are so glad she did. We are seeing the magnificent contributions that Emmanuella has already made at Niles West and we are excited to see what she will continue to do. When I asked Emmanuella what she was looking forward to most at the Black Teen Summit, she said she is most excited to see the event’s keynote speaker, none other than our very own Ms. April Stallworth! Because we all know when April talks, people listen!”

(April Stallworth is Executive Assistant to Superintendent Steven Isoye and Recording Secretary for the Board of Education.)

Niles West Director

“Another key person in organizing the inaugural Black Teen Summit at D219 is Physical Welfare Director, Mr. Omar Alebiosu,” Ritter said. “Omar, too, is very modest about the work he’s done, and he wanted to point out all of the help and support he received from his colleagues in the district who helped put this event together, like Carl Alexander, Deitrick Mitchell, Jason Stanford, Dillin Randolph, Larry English, Steve Parnther, Justin Johnson, Anita Baker, Carla Green, April Stallworth, Oyin Idowu, Adebola Adeniyi, Katie Odell, Caroline Benjamin, and Kia Pickett. 

“This planning committee made up of teachers, staff, administrators, and students like Emmanuella have been meeting, planning, sharing ideas, and collaborating to bring this event to life this year,” Ritter said. “There is such diversity within the Black community, and this is a day to celebrate those who identify as Black, African-American, Afro-Carribean, and Afro-Latino and for them to come together in unity and community. Planning any community event is a huge undertaking, and to do this remotely is even more challenging. Thank you to everyone involved in the planning of this event. 

“Emmanuella and Mr. Alebiosu have the same objective for the Black Teen Summit, which is to organize an event that will make our Black community feel welcomed, feel uplifted, and feel celebrated. While this will be a day of celebration, the uplifting and supporting of our Black community should not happen only on that day and should not happen only within the Black community,” Ritter said. “We all need to do a better job of lifting up and supporting our Black staff and students. Thank you Emanuella Anyanwoke and Omar Alebiosu for making a difference for so many in our D219 community. You are role models for all of us, and we can all follow your lead in supporting our D219 community.”

Niles North Principal James Edwards honored Corban (CJ) Hood-Webb for the leadership he has shown to his classmates during remote learning.


Edwards said CJ comes from a family “of very hard working people and although success is very important to them, genuineness and dedication is held above all. They push you to be yourself and to know who you are as an individual. His family is filled with lawyers, musicians, healthcare professionals, athletes, but overall genuine people that want to see their family members succeed.”

After high school, CJ aspires to be a Division 1 student-athlete majoring in Business/Real Estate and minoring in Economics or Applied Mathematics, Engineering or Physics, “in hopes of one day being in the NFL and MLB and having my degrees to fall back on after my career,” he says. “I also aspire to be a positive role model in my family, my community, and in the world.”

Besides his schoolwork, Edwards said, CJ keeps himself busy with sports. “He is currently practicing with his travel baseball team preparing for the 2021 season and will soon be doing the same for North football and baseball.” 

Social Studies teacher Aaron Minkus says, “In a world of little boxes filled with images of ceiling fans, kitchen cabinets and screens with only a first name on it, CJ is a ray of light. To be frank, I count on him for needed inspiration boosts during remote teaching. He throws himself into every class and brings nothing but happiness and energy. The world needs more people like CJ during these stressful times.”

English teacher Jason Mormolstein says, “CJ is an incredibly talented musician (seriously, ask him about his SoundCloud), and it was great having him share his creativity with our Digital Storytelling class. Corban was a reliably motivated, creative, and positive presence in our class.”

Spanish teacher Tom Neal says, “Corban has been a delight to work with this year!  He’s a conscientious, respectful young man who always strives to achieve his personal best.  ¡Felicidades y buen trabajo!” 

Physical Welfare teacher Mark Egofske says, “CJ shows up to class on time and ready to get after the workout that is on the horizon! CJ has great energy and is a positive force. He is a leader in our class and our go to’ when I need a student to demonstrate a new motor skill. Most importantly, CJ is a tremendous role model who makes us all work harder.” 

“CJ has shown consistent diligence and investment in his work in biology, where his energy and focus have positively influenced his learning groups (i.e. the breakout rooms), and contributing positively to the overall class learning” says Science teacher Tom Chung.

“Corban is a selfless, kind, and generous human,” says English teacher Amanda Hussain. “He is probably the student I have been able to get to know best during remote learning, and all due to his own actions.  To hear him talk about his family, his love for sports, how this year is going for him — you see insight and maturity that even most adults don’t have during this time. I wish there were a million more Corbans in the world, but the truth is, he is one of a kind!”

Edwards ended his tribute by saying, “And by the way, CJ is a freshman!”

Buell Work

Niles North Artists Win Scholastic Art Awards


The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program is the nation’s longest-running, largest, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens. Over the past 95 years, the Awards have recognized and encouraged artists and writers such as Sylvia Plath, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Robert Redford, Tom Otterness, and Zac Posen, among countless others.Congratulations to these Niles North artists who are Scholastic Art Awards winners!  Not only is this a tremendous honor in itself–this work was completed in the context of remote-learning.   

  • Gold Keys are awarded to the top 5-7% of all entries; these students are automatically advanced to the national round of judging;
  • Silver Keys are awarded to the top 7-10% of all entries; these students are automatically advanced to the national round of judging;
  • Honorable Mention is awarded to the top 10-15% of all entries.
Ella AnichE-Learning AnxietiesHonorable MentionAnich Work
Lee BuellComplexitiesHonorable Mention
Peter Gage GocoWhat’s Inside Your Head?Gold Key
Kala HuynhLoopSilver KeyKala H work
Grace KandaSummer BuzzHonorable MentionKanda work
Ilhana KisijaBreaking News

Connectivity and its Counterpart

Past Ways Say Stay

Honorable Mention

Silver Key (pictured)

Gold Key

Kisija work
Adrian LorieThe WaterHonorable Mention
Nina MalhotraChloe


Strawberry Lemonade

Silver Key

Honorable Mention

Silver Key

Nicole NantzTyler Spangler Inspired ProjectHonorable Mention
Neighborhood3 Req of Doom

Niles West Theatre Presents “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom”

Niles West Theatre presents

Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom

A play by Jennifer Haley

In a suburban subdivision with identical houses, parents find their teenagers addicted to an online horror video game. The game setting? A subdivision with identical houses. The goal? Smash through an army of zombies to escape the neighborhood for good. But as the line blurs between virtual and reality, both parents and players realize that fear has a life of its own. The play was a winner of the 2009 Primus Citations from the American Theatre Critics Association which premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom will be available for streaming* from Friday, February 19 to Sunday, February 21.  

*Patrons will need to fill out the form at to request a streaming link and password.*

Tickets are free!  *Please go to to fill out the form for complimentary “tickets.”  After completing the form, patrons will receive an email with the link for viewing and the required password.*

“Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. 

World premiere of NEIGHBORHOOD 3: REQUISITION OF DOOM at The Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville New York premiere of NEIGHBORHOOD 3: REQUISITION OF DOOM presented at the Summer Play Festival in association with The Public Theater.

Production Crew:

Assistant Director: Olivia Benitez

Stage Manager: Elizaveta Kolesnik


Makaela: Payton Ayers

Trevor: Abel Aboye 

Steve: Henry Gussis 

Leslie: Charlotte Howard-Check 

Vicki: Therese Malijan

Kaitlyn: Renee Namrood

Doug: Jo Boedefeld

Ryan: Simon Solano

Jared: Leah Ju

Madison: Ellie Evens

Tobias: Lucas Kahnamoui

Barbara: Aaliyah Kessler 

Chelsea: Emily Lim

Zombiekillr14/Blake: Henry Fleck

Joy: Caitlin Ayers

Costume Crew:

Assistant Costume Designer: Dashna Benjamin 

Key Costumer: Ella Rousseau

Costume Crew: Fiona ODwyer 

Sound Crew:

Brian Bedoya

Layla Ellis 

Mia Finnigan

Dylan Kintner

Scenic Crew:

Editing Manger: Mehreen Patel

Zainab Ahmed

Shaina Maitino

Eva Schultz

Publicity Crew:

Bawback Nafisi

Lighting Assistants:

Caitlin Ayers

Payton Ayers


Director: Sam Rosenfeld

Production Management: Hannah Luthringer

Scenic/Editing Design: Michael Johnson

Costume Design: Rossella Human

Sound/Editing Design: L.J. Luthringer

Lighting Design: Charlotte Rathke

Props Design: Kimberly Morris

Producer: Andy Sinclair

Box Office Management: Jackie Garvey

Illinois 5Essentials

Take Illinois 5Essentials Survey to Have a Voice in Improving Schools

District 219 Administers Ninth Illinois 5Essentials Survey to Improve Student Learning

Students, teachers and parents weigh in on school climate and learning conditions

(February 4, 2021) – District 219 will join the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in the ninth
statewide survey of school climate and learning conditions. The survey provides a unique opportunity
for students, teachers and parents to have a voice in improving their schools. From February 3 through
April 2, students and teachers will be asked to take a 25 -minute research-based survey to help identify
strengths and weaknesses in their school’s learning environment. The parent survey supplement will
also be administered during the same survey window. These surveys will serve as an opportunity for
schools to reflect on progress since the last statewide implementation.

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey provides a comprehensive picture of a school’s organizational culture in
an individualized report measuring five “essentials” critical for school success:

▪ Effective Leaders
▪ Collaborative Teachers
▪ Involved Families
▪ Supportive Environment
▪ Ambitious Instruction

Twenty years of research at the University of Chicago in more than 400 schools has shown that
schools that were strong on at least three of the 5Essentials were 10 times more likely to make
substantial gains in improving student reading and math than schools that were weak on three or more
of the Essentials. Those differences remained true even after controlling for student and school
characteristics, including poverty, race, gender, and neighborhood characteristics. Strength on
components within the Essentials also correlated with increased teacher retention, student attendance,
college enrollment, and high school graduation.

Generated from a rigorous analysis of student and teacher survey responses, 5Essentials Reports
demonstrate that what students and teachers say about their schools can serve as important indicators
for school success. In the inaugural 2012-2013 statewide Illinois 5Essentials Survey, 87 percent of all
schools in the state met the 50-percent participation threshold to receive a 5Essentials Report, with participation from more than 70 percent of all teachers and eligible 6 th through 12 th graders across
Illinois. Starting in 2018-19, 4 th and 5 th grade students were also included in the 5Essentials survey

All district schools, including alternative schools that fall under the district’s domain, are required to
participate in a school learning conditions survey every year. Starting in the school year 2018-19, the
survey will be required annually. The survey was deemed an important component to balanced
accountability under the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan by stakeholders, which
resulted in state legislative changes requiring the survey annually.

Recent legislation (105 ILCS 5/2-3.153) allows school districts the option to select an alternative to the
5Essentials from a pre-approved pool for the 2020-21 administration. Selection of an alternative
required school board and local union approval and was at the district’s own expense. Details on
survey alternatives can be found on the State Board’s website:

District 219 will participate in the statewide 2020-21 5Essentials Survey to meet state legislation and
the Board’s mandate. District 219 will administer the survey to learn how schools are doing on the
5Essentials for school success.

Principals and superintendents will receive their 5Essentials Reports in May 2021. Survey results will
also be reported publicly on the 5Essentials reporting site in Spring 2021 and on the State School
Report Card website in Fall 2021 . An optional parent survey is again available to all schools as a
supplement to the 5Essentials Survey for teachers and students—results from the parent survey
supplement will be included only in the individual school 5Essential Reports. Since 2013-14, the Illinois
5Essentials Survey has been formed using the 2012-13 statewide results so that all schools can
demonstrate progress over time.

On behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education, UChicago Impact is providing Illinois 5Essentials to
schools statewide. Teachers, students, and parents may complete the Illinois 5Essentials Survey
online. For more information visit:

2021 Illinois Parent Survey
Link to survey:
Opens Feb. 3, 2021 and closes April 2, 2021.

D219 Default Announcement logo

9th annual Coffeehouse Cabaret – Streaming Begins 1/22



The Niles West Theatre Patrons and the Niles West Theatre Department are proud to present The 9th Annual Coffeehouse Cabaret – “Covid” Coffeehouse.   This annual tradition is the major fundraiser for the Niles West Theatre Patrons, the booster organization for Niles West Theatre.

Featuring 22 student, staff and alumni performances (as well as several alumni testimonials), audience members can celebrate the talents of Niles West Theatre from the comfort of their own home.

The Coffeehouse performance will begin streaming on Friday, January 22 at  This performance will be available free of charge, but we encourage those who are willing and able to donate to the link provided in the performance.

Niles West Theatre Patrons and Niles West Theatre presents

The 9th Annual Coffeehouse Cabaret:

A celebration of student, staff and alumni performances

Streaming will begin on Friday, January 22 at This event is free! Please consider making a donation at the website featured in the performance. 



Payton Ayers 

Brian Bedoya

Olivia Benitez

Dashna Benjamin
Ellie Evens

Mia Finnigan

Henry Fleck

Henry Gussis

Vaughn Holleran

Charlotte Howard-Check

Max Leavitt

Therese Malijan

Bryianna Manzanares

Alessandra Mendoza

Matthew Phillip

Jake Pranian

Gabby Rogan

Ella Rousseau

Eva Schultz

Simon Solano 


Alexis Aponte

David Fisch (aka Masha Potato)

Ethan Itzkow

Aleks Krapivkin

Lynn Nguyen

Trisha Pabst

Mallory Portnoy

Riley Pranian

Elisa Winter


Lisa Bany

Michael Johnson

Charlotte Rathke

Sam Rosenfeld

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AP Parent Night Video – Watch here!


If you were unable to attend last week’s AP Parent Night presentation, here is all the information you need:


Electives Video Presentations 2021

DepartmentVideo Links
ECSB Computer Science



Business Education

Fine ArtsFine Arts Video 


Band Video

World LanguagesVideo






EnglishEnglish Elective Brochure Walkthrough


Electives Brochures

Freshman Electives

Sophomore Electives

Junior Electives

Senior Electives

Social StudiesSlides


Video Link

MathStatistics Roundtable
ScienceScience Department
Advanced Placement (AP)AP Parent Information Video 

Those Who Make a Difference Awards from 1-12-21 Meeting

At its January 12 meeting, the Niles Township High School District 219 Board of Education recognized Niles North senior Nina Artwell, Niles West senior Zeenat Muhammad and Niles  West Dean Amy Tucker with the Those Who Make a Difference Award.

North student Nina ArtwellNiles North senior Nina Artwell was honored for School Leadership. North Principal James Edwards said over the course of her high school career, Nina has been involved in clubs and activities including DREAM, SOAR, Children’s Tumbling, PALS and Junior Achievement. She has been a Principal’s Recognition Breakfast Awardee and this year has been instrumental in the work of the Principal’s Advisory Committee.

“Nina’s feedback on the school reopening draft shed light on some things we needed to consider on classroom and hallway safety,” Edwards said.  “She has volunteered to work with West students on developing criteria for senior final exam exemptions as well as serving as a student panelist for the Board of Education candidate forum. And in every topic we discuss, Nina’s racial equity lens is valued by both myself and her student colleagues.”

Many of Nina’s teachers testified to Nina’s leadership in the classroom.

“Nina has been a tremendous leader in the Integrated PE class,” said Physical Welfare teacher Glenn Olson. “Not only is Nina a positive role model for all the students, she also has a unique ability to enhance the in-class experience with her calm and upbeat personality. She motivates and leads on a daily basis.”

English teacher Renee Scott, who teaches Nina’s Creative Writing Class, said, “Nina has already been an integral part of creating a class community. She comes to class with her camera on, a great attitude, and a willingness to participate and share her creative work.

Social Studies teacher Patricia Bordenet teaches Law and said, “When we were processing the events (at the U.S. Capitol) on January 6, Nina co-led a discussion and was thoughtful and respectful in her perspective with a group of peers that she has been in class with (only virtually) for 2 days.”

Mathematics teacher Ashishkumar Kachhia said in his Statistics class, “Nina is always very enthusiastic and greets the whole class when we start. She is usually the first to come to class and she usually starts the class with a very energetic ‘Good morning, everyone! How are y’all doing?’ She is the reason why a lot of my students are engaged from the beginning of the Zoom class.”

Nina’s Guidance Counselor, Christine Beeftink, who also sponsors PALS, said, This year, I was blown away by her essay that won an award from the American Writers Museum. She wrote about her affinity with the Black individuals who have endured the violence of systemic racism and her own vision of America. It was a brave essay that comes from Nina’s inner strength and conviction.”

Science teacher Gordon Booker says in her Forensics class, “It is very clear Nina cares about her own learning and wants to do well in school and in life. She voluntarily answers questions and regularly adds thought-provoking ideas to class discussions. She is an incredibly responsible, honest, and hardworking student who will continue to have a positive influence on others around her.”

Edwards said, “I am ecstatic to report that Nina plans to be an educator after college and there is no doubt in my mind that whatever area she pursues, she will continue to lead in the classroom and as a social justice activist.”

Niles West Principal Karen Ritter recognized senior Zeenat Muhammad and Niles West Dean Amy Tucker for “Compassion and Care During Remote Learning.”

West student Zeenat Muhammad West Dean Amy Tucker

“Zeenat’s grandmother, who lives with her family, was recently hospitalized for a month,” Ritter said. “When it was time for Zeenat’s grandmother to leave the hospital, she had a wound that needed to be taken care of at home as part of the healing process. Zeenat learned from the doctor how to clean and patch up the wound so she could help her grandmother recover. In addition to that, Zeenat’s grandmother needed physical therapy. The doctor told the family that she can do PT at the hospital, or someone could learn how to lead the physical therapy at home. Zeenat volunteered to be that person. Zeenat helped her grandmother  get better after one month of this routine. Once her grandmother got better, Zeenat’s grandfather got sick with a bacterial infection that caused him to be hospitalized for several days. The doctor told the family that grandpa can come to the doctor’s office to get his antibiotic or someone can learn how to administer it at home. Again, Zeenat volunteered. She learned how to draw blood once a week and administer an IV for her grandfather. She also did physical therapy with him, since she learned how to do that with her grandmother. As if that were not enough, during remote learning, Zeenat and her whole family contracted Covid. All of these challenges contributed to Zeenat’s multiple absences.

“Luckily, Zeenat wants to be a doctor, so she jumped at the opportunity to help her grandparents heal and saw it as good practice. She is also a responsible student and contacted Dr. Tucker every time she knew she would miss class. Zeenat may be the only student to administer IVs and physical therapy at home, but she is certainly not the only student who is facing challenges at home and missing school because of it.

“Sometimes, when we see students with a lot of absences, we jump to conclusions and think they don’t care about school,” Ritter said. “I caution us from making those assumptions, because we never know what a student’s situation may be at home.

“By the way, Zeenat finished the semester with all A’s and one B. She tutors in the Lit Center three times a week, and she is a member of our Peer Reconciliation Committee. Zeenat says she loves a challenge and loves to push herself, and she will make a wonderful doctor one day and care for her patients as she does for her grandparents. She said of Dr. Tucker, that she is so understanding and she never once judged her.

“I also want to recognize Dr. Tucker, our other deans, all of our counselors, social workers, and school psychologists because they do so much behind the scenes that not many people are aware of. They are constantly reaching out to our students, trying to make connections, following up on absences or mental health concerns, and even do home visits.

“Thank you to Dr. Tucker, our deans and the Student Services team for demonstrating care and compassion for our students, and thank you Zeenat Muhammad for showing care and compassion for your family,” Ritter said. “You are all making such a difference.” 


Snow Background

View Virtual Art Gallery, Listen to Concert, Music

Click here to listen to this

Niles West Winter Band Showcase

Concert Selections:

Zachary Allen- Mozart Oboe Quartet Movement 3, William Grant Still- Incantation and Dance

Socrates Hwang- Ghost Garden by Adam Hopper

Joseph Cinquemani-Summertime (Duet) Artwork by Avery Luthardt

Niles West Percussion Ensemble- Release the Kraken by John Willmarth

Niles West Jazz Band-Greensleeves by Greg Yasinitsky

Niles West Band- High School Cadets March by John Philip Sousa


Niles West presents a collection of artworks on display “Virtually” featuring Visual Arts students who enrolled in AP Studio, 2-D and 3-D, Advanced Studio and 2-D Art, Art Foundations, Digital Photography 1 and Ceramics 1 courses during the first semester. The exhibition serves to document the success students achieved during “Virtual Learning” while navigating the many challenges hands-on courses posed. This amazing collection of artwork showcases the efforts put forth by both NWHS students and teachers during a very unique time in education. Visual Arts students didn’t let a Global Pandemic stop their creative passion. Please enjoy this virtual exhibition of drawings, paintings, functional pottery, sculptures, photographs, graphic design and much, much more!

Click on the link below to enter the Virtual Gallery- 

The Niles North Choral Department wishes you Happy Holidays! Please enjoy this link of their virtual concert from December 17, along with their Holiday Card!

Holiday Card

1st Virtual Concert 12/17/2020

The Program

The Niles North Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble wishes you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.  Please listen to their recording of Sleigh Ride through the YouTube link below.

The Niles North Orchestra students created arrangements of a song for their final project. The
students became “producers” and the final
compositions were outstanding. Here are links to a sampling of their arrangements:

Stefan Westerberg (Junior, cello) – Serenade for 4 Cellos, Goltermann

Kyle Kenmotsu (Senior, viola) December by Earth, Wind and Fire

Gabby Abacan (Junior, Upright bass and piano), Dom Dao (vocals) Fly Me to the Moon, Bart Howard

April Frias (Junior, viola, guitar, voice, midi) Hysteria by Def Leppard

Noah Battle (Junior, violin) The Night Window from the movie 1917

Calvin Villanueva (Senior, violin) Partita No 3, Bourree, JS Bach

Emma Jacobs (Senior, cello, guitar, midi) Savior Complex by Phoebe Bridgers

Nicole Frias (Junior, cello) Bach Suite for cello with a twist

Emily Chan (Junior, violin, guitar, piano) Carol of the Bells, Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Alyssa Levin (Senior, violin, piano) & Dr Elena Batman (vocals) Think of Me, Andrew Lloyd Webber

Jana Guerra (Sophomore, violin, piano) Mother’s Broom (Kaasano Houki) from Kiki’s Delivery Service

Andrea Hernandez (Freshman, violin, voice) Titanium by Sia

Nehemiah Powell (Freshman, viola) Life Every Voice and Sing, James Weldon Johnson & John Rosamond Johnson

Ariana Ardeleanu (Freshman, violin) La Cinquantaine, Gabriel Marie

Ivan Shalaev and Justin Li (Freshman, violin, midi) Pigstep from Minecraft

Lauraghy Alexandre (Freshman, violin) Beauty and the Beast, Alan Menken

Danielle Basillo (Sophomore, viola, voice) Mary Did You Know, Mark Lowry

Charis Pak (Sophomore, cello, piano) Future (Start-Up OST), Red Velvet

Dianna Zougras (Senior, cello) Melisses, Yorgos Kazantia and Foteini Velesiotou

Ryan Rosu (Sophomore, cello) O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, John Mason Neale

Chloe Rybacki (Sophomore, cello) Pictures at an Exhibition, Modest Mussorgsky

Brooklyn Leopoldo (Junior, viola) Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Felix Mendelssohn

All Orchestra members – Tallis Canon and Variations, Thomas Tallis, arranged by John Caponegro

Symphonic Virtual Orchestra – Brandenberg Concerto No 3, Movement 2, JS Bach

Tom Henry (Senior, guitar, vocals, midi) Let It Be, The Beatles

Emma Jacobs (Senior, cello, guitar, midi) Graceland Too, Phoebe Bridgers

Emily Chan (Junior, all instruments) Youth, Daughter

D219 Default Announcement logo

D219 Board Statement of 12/15/20

The Niles Township High School District 219 made the following statement at its December 15, 2020 special board meeting in response to public comment.

Board Statement in Response to Recent Public Comments

The Board of Education encourages and values public comment at our meetings. We use public comment instructively to inform us of pending issues and concerns. While we generally do not respond during meetings to individual comments submitted, we have our Administration follow up on the issues raised.

Though rare for the Board to respond to public comments directly, the Board believes it necessary to address a series of recent public comments regarding the “Resolution Affirming Adherence to Board Policy 2:80” issued on October 20, 2020. Many comments have alleged that the Board is attempting to silence one of its members, Jill Manrique. A fair reading of our Resolution would quickly show that this allegation is simply not true and, in fact, grossly mischaracterizes the Board’s intent.

As such, we will take a moment this evening to encourage those who are interested to consider the content of the Resolution. The following applies.

1. The Resolution affirms that all Board members have a duty as elected officials to act in the best interest of District 219. The Resolution affirms Board members’ obligation to adhere to Board Policy 2:80, which requires all Board members to contribute to a Board environment in which controversial issues are presented fairly and the dignity of each individual is recognized and protected, and to maintain professional communications with Board colleagues and members of the District 219 community.

2. The Resolution affirms that individual Board members do not give up their right to exercise free speech as a private citizen when they become school board members. The Board fully recognizes the right of every citizen, including Board member Manrique, to speak as a private
citizen on matters unrelated to her position as a Board member.

3. The Resolution also affirms that Board members have a duty to ensure that when they speak as private citizens, they make it clear that they do not speak on behalf of the Board of Education. Individual Board members cannot speak on behalf of the Board without Board authorization.

4. The Resolution affirms that Board member Manrique was not speaking on behalf of the Board in a series of statements beginning in June 2020 using her Twitter account, which identifies her as the Vice President of the Board of Education of District 219.

5. The Resolution affirms that Board member Manrique’s messages on Twitter that disparaged and mocked community members with viewpoints contrary to her own were contrary to her duty under Board Policy 2:80 to respect and protect the dignity of District 219 community members and to communicate professionally with community members.

6. The Resolution affirms that Board member Manrique acted contrary to the Board’s obligations under the Illinois Open Meetings Act when she responded to a community member’s public comment by stating that the comment was “disgusting” and that the community member should be stopped from making additional public comment.

The Board of Education through this Resolution seeks to affirm our legal duty to the community we serve. We take seriously any allegation that a Board member has been mistreated by other Board members. You should know the Board has undergone training through the Illinois Association of School Boards to improve our ability to work effectively together to better serve the community. The Board also had an independent review conducted of Board members’ concerns that their attempts to speak during Board meetings were interrupted based on discriminatory use of procedural rules. The result of that review was that there was no evidence of discriminatory intent by any Board member to silence
other members.

Our ability to function effectively as a Board has never been more important as we confront perhaps the most significant challenge to public school districts in our history – that of effectively educating our students during the continuing COVID-19 Pandemic. We have seen how the Pandemic has exposed the inequities in our public education system, and we must address those inequities to the best of our abilities in delivering the best educational services possible to our students. Please know, as we look to the Spring 2021 semester and address how to safely return to in-person instruction, that we are focused on the educational mission of District 219 and on acting in the best interests of the entire District 219 community.