Documentary Screening/Discussion: No Small Matter

Lifting Up Early Childhood

The lasting impact of high quality early childhood care and education on children’s health and educational success is increasingly clear. But not all children and families get access and programs struggle with adequate resources.

Lifting Up Early Childhood is a coalition of over 60 partners in Evanston and Skokie working together to build local support for early childhood care and education so that our communities ensure that all our children get the best start and build a strong foundation.

Documentary Screening & Panel Discussion

NO SMALL MATTER is the first feature documentary to explore the most overlooked, underestimated, and powerful force for change in America today:  early childhood education.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

5 pm: registration & dinner

6 pm: programming begins

Evanston Township High School Auditorium

1600 Dodge Avenue, Evanston

Childcare available

Please register to attend (and request childcare) at: up

No Small Matter Documentary and Panel Discussion

Award Winners at BOE Meeting 11-5-19

Board Honors Those Who Make A Difference Award Winners

The D219 Board of Education honored several students and staff members at its November 5 meeting with its Those Who Make A Difference award:

Boruch Arnold, Niles Central and Niles West 

Boruch Arnold Award Winne

“Boruch Arnold is a 15-year-old sophomore who attends both Niles Central and Niles West,” said Niles Central Director Joe Bruzzino, who introduced him. “Boruch is being recognized for his technological Interests. Boruch is interested in pursuing a degree in Computer Science or Robotics. In the 2018-19 school year, he completed Industrial Concepts 1 and 2. This past summer, Boruch enrolled in Robotics, where he earned a 97% in the class.

“Boruch has chosen the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway,” Bruzzino said. “He has shown a strong interest in this area and has met great success academically. This school year, he is currently enrolled in AP Computer Science (Project Lead the Way), Introduction to Engineering Design (Project Lead the Way), Autos Topics and Advanced Geometry. Mid first quarter, Boruch’s Geometry teacher at Niles West recommended that Boruch move up to an advanced class due to his need for a challenge, his inquisitive mind, and his analytical and methodical approach to problem-solving. He is also known as a very intelligent, analytical and independent thinker.

“Boruch is always very interesting to have a conversation with,” said Bruzzino. “Boruch has a very broad fount of knowledge for a person of his age.  He enjoys engaging in lively debate informed by current events.  With these skills, Boruch has the ability to get along with a wide range of peers and adults. By the end of his first year, Boruch worked his way to the top of our level system. He currently has four Niles West courses and is on track for further coursework at Niles West. This has been an unusually fast and positive trajectory, which also speaks to Boruch’s high motivation and work ethic.   Boruch has over a 3.7 GPA, an accomplishment for which both he and his parents can be proud.

Amani Laliwala and Leslie Natzke, Niles West

Amani Laliwala and Leslie Natzke Award Winners

“This week is National French Week, and I thought it would be appropriate to recognize French Club President, Amani Laliwala, and French Club Sponsor, Leslie Natzke,” Niles West Principal Karen Ritter said while she was introducing the honorees.

“Amani Laliwala is a French student, the President of French Club and a member of the French Honor Society. Amani (who is a senior) loves studying the French language, but more so, the French culture. This year, with Amani at the helm, the French Club is planning an event that brings Niles North and Niles West and some feeder school students together for a “Dîner en Blanc” this Friday, November 8. If you are not familiar with the Dîner en Blanc concept, it is an event where people dress in white, bring a dish, and share a wonderful meal together. These dîner en blanc happen around the world. If you are looking for something to do this Friday, perhaps you can join them!

“Besides Amani’s love for French, she spends a good amount of her free time helping others. Amani is involved in the West Helps Others (WHO) Club, where she has participated in service learning projects such as Feed My Starving Children and Wolfpack Gives Back, and she also manages the logistics and communication of the WHO Club, notifying other students of service learning opportunities that benefit our community.

“Amani serves in other ways, such as raising money for cancer research in the Relay for Life race, helping parents at Open House and Parent-Teacher Conferences, and she does all of this while following a rigorous schedule including 4 AP classes. She hopes to major in computer science or chemistry, with a minor in French, bien sûr.

“Her French teacher, Ms. Natzke, says Amani is a natural leader — that she is detail oriented, responsible, knows how to take a step back from a situation to see the big picture, and has developed the art of delegation. Ms. Natzke also appreciates the opportunities that Niles West provides for emerging leaders like Amani. She says Niles West helps students develop and find their unique path.

“Next,” Ritter said, “I would like to introduce Madame Leslie Natzke, French teacher and French Club sponsor. Madame Natzke has spent some time as a Peace Corps volunteer in French-speaking African countries such as Burkina Faso, Benin, and Senegal. It would not be a surprise if Amani got her passion for helping others from her French teacher. Besides her Peace Corps experience, Madame Natzke is involved in a not-for-profit organization called Expanding Lives, which helps young West African women develop leadership and technology skills.

“Ms. Natzke says that her French Club students love French culture and enjoy celebrating National French Week with cultural outings, playing games, and watching French films. Both Amani and Ms. Natzke participated in an exchange program last year in Le Mans to reinforce their love of the French culture and language.

“Thank you, Amani Laliwala and Leslie Natzke, for making a difference in the lives of many through your involvement with the French Club and your spirit of service to others.”

Maya Bral and Summer Lee, Niles North

Maya Bral and Summer Lee

“Why Not Dance, more commonly known as YND, is an extracurricular dance club at Niles North,” said Niles North Principal James Edwards. “Years ago, the club started as a space for breakdancers to work together to learn different breakdancing moves. Since then, the club grew exponentially, starting with five students, and growing to over 70 dancers today. Students teach and learn all different styles of dance with and from each other, and perform at a number of different school and community events. Some of the dancers have years of experience dancing in front of hundreds, others have only danced in front of their mirrors.

“With over 70 dancers currently on our roster, we would not be able to accomplish the level of performance without the leadership of Maya and Summer,” Edwards said. (Both are seniors.)

“Together, they do their best to ensure that every single dancer’s talents don’t go unnoticed,” said club sponsor and Math teacher Gary Chu. “Summer and Maya have established an all-inclusive space for students of all backgrounds and abilities to feel welcome. They make a huge point to emphasize and amplify everybody’s voice in the club. Maya and Summer are extremely well-respected by their peers, and we could not be more proud or grateful to them for all they’ve been able to do for our dance community.

“Maya and Summer are self-advocates, leaning on each other and the support of their vice presidents to problem solve, choreograph, and plan for all of our practices and performances,” Chu said. “They are flexible, and have the ability to adapt to what the studio needs at any given moment. Summer and Maya always make themselves available to help others who need to catch up on choreography.”

D219 Default Announcement logo

Update on This Morning’s Incident

Niles North Principal James Edwards sent this update at 9:30 p.m. tonight to Niles North families:

Dear Niles North Students, Parents and Guardians,

This note is to provide an update to the message I sent out earlier today warning about a potential child luring incident. We have been notified by the Morton Grove Police Department that there was an innocent misunderstanding: a neighbor who lives in the area was waiting in his vehicle with his child, who was also waiting for the bus. The parent asked if the student wanted to enter the vehicle to get out of the rain until the bus came. The student did not recognize the parent.

When the parent saw the warning note I sent out earlier today, he called the Morton Grove Police Department to explain what happened. Police reviewed the situation and promptly notified D219 to let us know there is no more cause for concern about this.

The police emphasize that the student did the right thing by reporting what seemed to him suspicious activity. We appreciate the close working relationship we have with the Morton Grove Police Department, and in fact with all four Police Departments that serve D219 schools.

Thank you.

Dr. James Edwards


D219 Default Announcement logo

Possible Child Luring Incident

Niles North Principal James Edwards sent the following note to students, parents and guardians on October 30. Niles West Principal Karen Ritter sent a similar note to students and families.

Dear Niles North Students, Parents and Guardians,

This note is to make you aware of an incident that took place this morning. At approximately 7:30 a.m., a Niles North student was waiting for his school bus at the corner of Church and New England in Morton Grove. A man in a van stopped near the bus stop, opened the sliding door and asked the student if he needed a ride. The student is safe and gave a description of the subject to the police. The driver was described as a male in his 30’s with dark hair, and the vehicle was described as an older model white or silver minivan.

We encourage parents to speak with their children about what to do if they are confronted by a stranger by developing a plan and/or discussing strategies such as running away, yelling for help and reporting the incident to an adult and the police. If you or your student  sees anything suspicious, please report it to your local police department or school officials.

Thank you.

Dr. James Edwards

D219 Default Announcement logo

19th Annual BEST Resource Fair

The 19th annual BEST Resource Fair, “Transitions for the Future,” will be held on Wednesday, November 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Niles North High School, 9800 Lawler Avenue, Skokie, IL. The Fair is designed to assist students with special needs in making post-high school transition plans. All students with special needs, their parents/guardians, and professionals are invited to attend.

This year the BEST Committee will host a Parent Panel from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., followed by the Resource Fair.

At 7:30 to 9, representatives from apprenticeship programs, employment services, government programs, health services, legal resources, recreational opportunities, referral sources, residential programs, transportation, vocational programs, and trade schools will be available to distribute information and answer questions.

The Resource Fair is organized by Business and Education for Students in Transition (BEST), a committee sponsored by The Cove School, Evanston Township High School District #202,  Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Rehabilitation Services,  JCFS Chicago, Lester and Rosalie Anixter Center, Maine Township High School District #207, New Trier Township High School District #203, Niles Township High School District #219, and Orchard Village.

For additional information, please contact Bernadette Komenda at 847-626-2348 or email

Graphic of Big Ten pennants in a circle

Exploring College Options for Soph & Juniors: November 4

Niles Township junior and sophomore students and their families are encouraged to attend District 219’s “Exploring College Options” event at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, November 4 at Niles North High School, 9800 Lawler, Skokie. This FREE event will be held in the Auditorium. Translation available in the following languages:  Spanish, Korean, Urdu, Assyrian and Arabic.

Students have many options for college:  Two and Four-year institutions, private/public, in-state/out-of-state. Listen to three deans of admissions to help you determine the right fit.

D219 Default Announcement logo

D219 Prohibits Bullying

Since October is National Bullying Prevention Month, Niles Township High School District 219 is taking the occasion to remind students and families that the district strictly prohibits bullying, intimidation and harassment, all of which “diminish a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate,” according to D219 Policy 7:180. “Preventing students from engaging in these disrupting behaviors and providing all students equal access to a safe, non-hostile learning environment are important District goals,” the policy states.

According to Illinois School Code, bullying includes cyber-bullying and means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or electronically, directed toward a student or students that: places a student in reasonable fear of harm to physical or mental health; causes a substantially detrimental effect on the student’s health; substantially interferes with the student’s academic performance; or substantially interferes with the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from school services, activities or privileges.

Students are encouraged to immediately report bullying. A report may be made orally or in writing to the nondiscrimination coordinator, building principal, assistant principal, dean of students, complaint manager or any staff member with whom the student is comfortable speaking.

“Not only are we ready to be responsive to address any form of bullying, but we are also very proactive as a district to support our students’ needs,” said Antwan Babakhani, Niles West Assistant Principal for Student Services. “Bullying is stopped before it starts by talking about it and integrating social-emotional competencies in the classroom.” 

“We work to build a safe community of engaged, empowered, and resilient students by supporting the development of self and social awareness, self-management, relationship building, and responsible decision making “ said Laura Bolech, Niles North Assistant Principal for Student Services.