You Make A Difference Award Winners from 1-14-2020

Board Honors Make A Difference Award Winners

The Niles Township High School District 219 Board of Education recognized stellar students who excel in their clubs, and also recognized their inspiring sponsors. The Make A Difference Award winners for January represent the Latinx Club at Niles North and the DECA Club at Niles West.

From the Latinx Club at Niles North:

Students Jatziry Ramos Jacobo and Maya Rios

Sponsors Alejandra Arteaga and Cecilia Serrano

Latinx Club honored at Board Meeting 1-14-20

Jatziry Ramos Jacobo is a sophomore who lives with her family of four. They emigrated to the United States from the Mexican state of Guadalajara. Her mother works in a hospital and her stepfather drives for DrivX.

“Jatziry has made a difference as a leader in Latinx club by building community with her peers who have similar journeys, toward the goal of making them feel welcomed and supported,” said Niles North Principal James Edwards. “The club also allows her to continue to feel connected to her Mexican culture and traditions. Furthermore, the club symbolizes a sense of unity because all club members know that they are there to help each other.  Last year, Jatziry also made a difference by helping to organize a mural painting activity with local artist Victor Montanez that helped the school community understand the rich history and traditions of Latinx culture.”

According to Jatziry, her work in Latinx club “is more than just a simple club, it is a place where we can all get together and make extraordinary things happen.” Jatziry’s future goal is to pursue a career as a law enforcement official.

Maya Rios is a senior and is proud to identify as a Tejana. She lives with her mother, brother and grandmother in Skokie. Latinx club was the first club Maya joined at Niles North, and she quickly found her peers to be a second family to her.  Her leadership in the club created a supportive environment where “we could eat, talk about issues that impact Latinx members and prepare for presentations at diversity night and pep assemblies,” she says. Maya says she “is so proud to be part of such an amazing club” and feels honored to be able to call herself a leader in this club.

According to Edwards, “Like Jatziry, Maya was instrumental in creating the mural project last year that brought so many people together to make an everlasting cultural impact on Niles North. Maya plans to attend Oakton (Community College) next year and her career goal is to become a private investigator.”

Both students expressed their gratitude to the club’s two sponsors, Spanish teacher Alejandra Arteaga and Mathematics teachers Cecilia Serrano, for supporting them and challenging them to step up as leaders.

Serrano told Board members that it has been gratifying “to watch both these young women grow into such powerful female leaders in our community.”

Arteaga noted that Jatziry and Maya made a significant and lasting contribution to Niles North through their leadership on the mural project. “We make it a point in the club to think about what we can do to educate ourselves so we can share more about our culture with the rest of our school.”

From the DECA Club at Niles West:

Students Richard Chen and Henry Gussis — Eat Smart Campaign

Students Adem Memidzan and Katarina Kraljevic — Breaking Down the Wall: Immigration

Sponsors Eric Lueder and Tricia Brown

West DECA members honored by Board at 1-14-20 meeting

“When you hear about DECA, you don’t think of the Distributive Education Clubs of America, the organization’s original name,” said Niles West Principal Karen Ritter when she introduced the January honorees to the Board.

“At Niles West, when we hear DECA, we immediately think of the entrepreneurial club that provides soft serve ice cream through DECAlicious,” Ritter said. “In addition, we think of students who have an interest in project-based learning and reaching beyond their local school community to raise awareness around bigger societal issues such as immigration or healthy eating. Tonight, I want to express my gratitude for our two DECA sponsors, Eric Lueder and Tricia Brown, who create the conditions for students involved in DECA to take an issue they are passionate about and develop a project to raise community awareness that impacts the lives of many beyond our school building.

“I also want to recognize two of our DECA groups who truly impacted our school this year with their important community awareness projects. The first group is Richard Chen and Henry Gussis, with their project titled, Eat Smart: Biting Into the Truth, where they motivated and inspired students to develop a balanced diet and empowered them with the skills and knowledge needed for proper nutrition. The second team is Adem Memidzan and Katarina Kraljevic with their project, Breaking Down the Wall: Immigration.

“To give you a little bit of background about DECA, the program started 25 years ago at Niles West with Mr. Lueder, who was asked to sponsor the activity in his first year of teaching. The program has grown over the years to about 100 students, and Ms. Brown joined as a cosponsor. Both sponsors believe they play a minimal role in DECA, but if you talk to the students, they say they could not carry out their projects without them.”

The DECA sponsors say about Adem and Kat, “They chose a topic that they are passionate about, because they come from families of immigrants, and they have shown growth and perseverance through this process.” About Richard and Henry they say, “They came up with the topic, they took charge, and they were so driven and independent.”

Lueder told the Board that part of what makes Adem and Kat’s project so powerful is that it covers a topic, immigration, that is controversial. The students organized an in-school discussion featuring an impressive speakers panel that included elected officials and immigration experts.

“Part of our challenge was to learn ways to bring this topic to a full discussion without offending people,” Adem said. The discussion, which was open to all students at Niles West, provided opportunities for candid conversations about immigration that otherwise would not have taken place, according to both sponsors. The team will also be raising funds to create a new scholarship for Niles West students.

Richard and Henry’s Eat Smart project was a comprehensive effort that included:  a school-wide messaging campaign; a visit with a Northwestern University cardiologist who provided results of his own research about healthy eating; a field trip for students to University of Illinois, Chicago, to learn from the director of the school’s nutrition program how race and socioeconomic class affect eating habits; and a visit to UIC’s food science lab.

Coming Together Committee

Coming Together Celebrates “Journeys to Niles Township”

Coming Together Logo

Now in its eleventh year, Coming Together brings life to the cultural diversity in our community by examining the journeys people took to get to Niles Township. Supported by institutions throughout Skokie, Niles, Morton Grove, and Lincolnwood, which are among the most diverse communities in the country, Coming Together has celebrated the multitude of cultures that call these communities home over the past ten years.

Central to these communities are the stories of what brought residents to Niles Township. Some are journeys of recent immigration, others of being transported to these lands against their will. Still others are journeys of fleeing oppression or relocating to seek greater prosperity. These journeys are as central to the residents of Niles Township as are the cultures they embrace and celebrate. Coming Together will explore something all community members have in common: our Journeys to Niles Township.

Coming Together is a community partnership among Skokie, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, and Niles. The project builds bridges of knowledge and understanding between people of different groups and ages. Each year Coming Together highlights a different topic, with an emphasis on literacy, cross-cultural awareness, and community-building.

Past cultures that have been celebrated by Coming Together include Asian-Indians,

Filipinos, Assyrians, Greeks, Koreans, “Voices of Race,” Latinos/Hispanics, Chinese, Muslim American Cultures, and in 2019, Polish Culture.

The annual opening ceremony will take place on Sunday, January 26 at Niles West High School, 5701 West Oakton, Skokie. Beginning at 1 p.m., guests can enjoy cultural and historical displays, hands-on activities and refreshments. The program begins in the auditorium promptly at 2 p.m. The event is Free and open to the public.

Free activities and programs continue for six weeks, including book discussions, film screenings, craft and cooking demonstrations, and other events highlighting immigration, migration, local history, community resources, and current events.

Central to the Coming Together mission is literacy, with a variety of books selected each year to help develop a deeper understanding of the featured topic. Discussion questions are available in the brochure and online at This year’s books include:

Adult/High School

American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures by America Ferrera

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker

Upper Elementary (6-8)

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Middle Elementary (3-5)

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Lower Elementary (K-2)

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

The Little Red Stroller by Joshua Furst, illustrated by Katy Wu

For more information, including event details, please visit


Coming Together Co-Chairs

Chris Renkosiak

(847) 494-1189

Samina Hussain, District 219

(847) 626-3959

Graphic of Big Ten pennants in a circle

Junior College Information Night on Jan. 29

Niles North juniors and their parents/guardians are invited to Junior College Information Night on Wednesday, January 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Niles North High School Auditorium, 9800 N. Lawler Avenue, Skokie.

Juniors have registered for senior year courses and will soon be meeting with their counselors to discuss graduation plans.  This important information night will focus on the following topics:
  • Self-Assessment

  • Standardized tests: PSAT, SAT, ACT

  • Timeline/Calendar of Events

  • Resources to discover Careers and Colleges

  • And other important items to consider now before senior year

Auroris Dance Co 2020 poster

Auroris Dance Presents “Renegade” on Jan. 23 – 25

The 2019-2020 Auroris Dance Company presents “Renegade” on January 23 through 25, 2020 in the Niles North Auditorium Theater, 9800 North Lawler, Skokie. There will be a free community performance at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 23 and main performances will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25. Tickets may be purchased at the door for $10 (50% of all ticket sales benefit the Niles North Fine Arts Parents and Patrons) and doors will open at 6:45 p.m. If you have any ticket questions, please contact Deanna Sortino at or 847-626-2562. The dancers will be performing all different styles of dance including jazz, modern, hip-hop, Broadway, Latin, and tap!

Guest choreographers include Connie Sweeney, Walter Maybell, Marcus Ambubuyog (NN Alum), Lauryn Schmelzer (NN Alum), Zoe Hertz (NN Alum), and Chris Chueng (NN Alum). The company consists of 32 dancers under the guidance of Artistic Director Deanna Sortino, Assistant Director Zoe Hertz and Hip-Hop Assistant Director Chris Chueng. Captains are Maya Bral, Emily Feingold-Fisher, Kalliope Kobotis, Mia Vuckovic, and Olivia Hilby.

Auroris Dance Co 2020 posterThe Auroris dancers include: Albert Luna, Alexis Chiet, Alex Taylor, Anjani Padhiar, Ben Lehrer, Britney Le, Danielle Lehrer, Diana Evangelista, Dina Kaiser, Emily Feingold-Fisher, Grace Antonesi, Jade Lajeune, Jadean Warburton, Jaime Neuman, Joshua Abello, Kalliope Kobotis, Kayli Sarris, Kylle Basillo, Maya Bral, Mia Vuckovic, Miranda Estrada, Monica Guerrero, Myka Punzalan, Neiko Gaoiran, Norah Vaughan, Olivia Hilby, Olivia Yoshioka, Psalm DeVera, Stefan Westerberg, Summer Lee, Virak Khouen, and Zoe Lau.

Focus on Your Future Graphic which lists D219 career pathways

D219 Invites Students to Post-High School Options Fair on Feb. 19

Focus on Your Future Graphic which lists D219 career pathways

D219 invites students, parents and community members to hear from representatives from companies, organizations and institutions to discover what training, skills and credentials are required for fulfilling careers at the Focus On Your Future program held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19 at Niles North High School, 9800 Lawler Avenue, Skokie.

Focus On Your Future will provide information on post-secondary options including associate degrees, certificate programs, apprenticeships, and other job training credentials, as well as gap-year, study-abroad experiences, and summer enrichment programs. All students should attend, including those students anticipating a four-year college plan. This event covers the education, training, and skills required for fulfilling careers and experiences within career pathways.

Students should preregister for the event at and select event 02/19/20 Niles Township: Focus On Your Future. D219 students should bring school ID; all other adults and non-D219 students, must bring driver’s license or valid photo ID to enter the building.

For more information, please contact Lisa Edelson, Education to Careers Coordinator, at (847) 626-2062; College and Career Counselors Allegra Giulietti-Schmitt (North) at (847) 626-2170 or Dan Gin (West) at (847) 626-2682.

Niles North student Bushra Ahmed in Magnetar Capital UChicago Financial Education Spotlight

Student Featured in Magnetar Capital | U Chicago Financial Ed Spotlight

Niles North student Bushra Ahmed in Magnetar Capital UChicago Financial Education Spotlight

Niles North student Bushra Ahmed was recently featured in the Magnetar Capital | UChicago Financial Education Initiative Student Spotlight.

She said, “The most valuable thing I have learned in financial education was about loans and savings towards retirement. I can create a more stable and secure financial future by analyzing poor decisions and learning how they can be fixed and improved in the future. I have been able to integrate these important skills and techniques into my daily spending habits.”

Read more here. 

Affinity Group Logo

AFFINITY Dec. Meeting Rescheduled for Jan. 30

There will be no AFFINITY meeting this month (originally scheduled for Thursday, December 19) but in 2020, AFFINITY will once again be up and running. Thank you to everyone who attended the November meeting. We hope you all enjoyed the presentation and found the resources helpful.

AFFINITY wants to keep the momentum going and invites you to attend the next meeting. The next meeting will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 30, 2020 in the Niles West Lit Center, Niles West High School, 5701 W. Oakton, Skokie.

Affinity Group LogoThe African/Black/Caribbean Families Fostering Inspiring & Nurturing Independence for Today’s Youth (Affinity) welcomes K-12 families to join in monthly meetings for a time of connection through food, dialogue, trust, and most importantly, support, for students and their families.

Picture of Niles North Shakespeare Slam Team that won first place

Shakespeare Slam Team Wins First

The Niles North Shakespeare Slam Team won first place at their competition on Monday, December 9 at Chicago’s Navy Pier.  The event is hosted and coordinated annually by Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.  In this competitive slam event, ChiShakes invites 40 to 50 area wide high schools to “compete” by creating two 5-minute scenes that use anywhere from 2 to 8 actors, up to 8 chairs, and nothing else. One of the scenes must be a scene from any Shakespeare play of the group’s choice. The other scene (and this is where it gets pretty cool) is a piece of devised theatre in which the team uses only Shakespeare’s language from one given play to create a brand new piece of theatre. The Niles North team’s piece, using language from “A Comedy of Errors,” was called “One Day’s Error”, and explored a grey area that many young people might find themselves in – they are in a relationship and one person wants to advance and the other person isn’t sure.

Congratulations to Niles North team members Amy Shapiro, Jamie Acido, Eliza Harris, Marina Foss, Eliana Stern, Cuyler Lantry, Aithan Nuzov, Ovi Banerjee, and Samantha Raliff (as Assistant Director).Picture of Niles North Shakespeare Slam Team that won first place