D219 Default Announcement logo

Superintendent Message re. Coronavirus

D219 Supt Header

Dear D219 Students and Parents/Guardians:

Niles Township High School District 219 is closely monitoring developments regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), including information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health. We are also working in cooperation with the Village of Skokie Health Department, which is available to advise us whenever there is a public health or safety concern that may affect students.

As with any respiratory virus, we recommend everyday practices that will help keep you healthy and avoid illness. Please remember the following good health habits:

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap is not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Do not share water bottles or similar containers.
  • Visit a doctor if you have a fever, cough, body aches, and/or fatigue.
  • If you or a family member is sick, stay home and limit contact with others.

Below are links to more information about the coronavirus:

Centers for Disease Control
CDC Coronavirus
This CDC site includes information about COVID-19, and provides travel information that might be helpful to those planning trips over spring break.

Illinois Department of Public Health

D219 will continue to take reasonable steps to keep our school functioning as normal, including routine cleaning. In the event D219 receives additional information about the coronavirus that leads us to take any additional precautions, we will inform students, parents, staff and community members.


Steven Isoye
Superintendent of Schools

Graphic of Big Ten pennants in a circle

#D219Fair is CANCELLED

3/12/2020:   The D219 College Fair is cancelled.

High school students in Niles Township will have an opportunity to investigate future educational possibilities at one of the largest post-high school planning nights in the area. The 44th annual District 219 College Fair will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17 at Niles West High School, 5701 W. Oakton, Skokie. Representatives from more than 215 colleges, universities will be present to discuss post-high school options for students. There will be schools ranging from the traditional two and four year colleges, to military academies, to specialized schools, i.e., automotive, culinary, art, etc. Before the fair, students should pre-register at www.strivefair.com by completing the required information. Once the student has registered, they will receive a barcode that they should bring to the College Fair. College representatives will scan this code. After the fair, students will receive a report with information about all of the colleges that they scanned.

All Niles Township students and their parents are invited to participate, regardless of whether they attend a District 219 school. For additional information, please contact College and Career Counselors Daniel Gin at (847) 626-2682 or Allegra Giulietti-Schmitt at (847) 626-2170.

On Twitter, follow @nthsd219, or #D219Fair.

IL HS Art Exhibition 2020 logo

North Artists to Vie for $88 Million in Scholarships

IL HS Art Exhibition 2020 logo

Congratulations to the Niles North artists that will have their work included in the Illinois High School Art Exhibition, which opens on Sunday, March 8 at the Zhou B Art Center and Bridgeport Art Center.

The best student artists from approximately 100+ Illinois high schools will converge at the 8th annual Illinois High School Art Exhibition (IHSAE) to showcase their art and vie for more than $88 million in college scholarships. Alaiza Arcega, Charlie Northway, Zeke Cordeiro, Sophia Gonzalez, Safeena Khan, Kieran Micari-Lawless, Helga Vigh, J’Lyn Wilson and Olivia Yoshioka have received over $1.2 million in scholarship offers with more scholarships still being processed. Included in the Senior Show are Zeke Cordeiro, Safeena Khan, Kieran Micari-Lawless, Helga Vigh and Olivia Yoshioka. The Senior Show runs from Monday, March 2 through Saturday, April 4 at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th Avenue, Chicago.

More than 4,000 students, teachers, parents, college representatives, school district administrators, and guests are expected to attend the state’s largest high school student art exhibition that is also widely considered the gold standard among high school student art exhibitions nationwide.

A public opening will be hosted on Sunday, March 8 from 11am to 6pm at the Bridgeport Art Center. The IHSAE features several unique programs for high school art students and K- 12 Art Educators throughout the year. The first of many events is the IHSAE’s General Exhibition; a “Best of the Best” Show featuring over 800 works of art, in 8 distinct categories, from Illinois suburban, public and private high schools along with a Vendor & Career Expo. The BAC will also host the IHSAE’s signature events: the awards ceremonies, early college scholarship announcements, college recruitment fair and senior scholarship announcements. The Senior Scholarship Exhibition will exhibit some 350 senior artworks and recognize scholarship offers totaling over $88 million dollars. IHSAE has partnered with more than 40 art schools, colleges and universities from across the nation; most of which, will be on hand to meet with students and parents at the College Recruitment Fair, running from 10am to 2pm.

“Started in 2013, the IHSAE is 100% powered by teacher volunteers and has grown out of the passion they bring to making a difference for students, and has since facilitated $192 million in tuition scholarships cumulatively for more than 1,500 students. The IHSAE advocates those extra efforts with exhibitions and other incentives for creative exploration and connections to innovative careers,” said Chris Sykora, co-creator of IHSAE.

About the IHSAE

The Illinois High School Art Exhibition is a not-for-profit with a mission to enhance the creative educational landscape, giving student and teacher artists agency to succeed by connecting them to a variety of remarkable exhibitions, opportunities, and programs, while advocating for and reinforcing the power of art in their lives. Developed by teachers for students, the organization is run by full-time art educators who collaborate with corporate sponsors, art schools/colleges/universities, and participating city, suburban, public and private high schools to celebrate and award the artistic talents of Illinois high school art students. The IHSAE cultivates further connections through a variety of programs, such as the Art Educator and Central Illinois High School Art Exhibitions, Small Works Show, IHSAE Traveling Show, Mini-Art Throwdown, Mini-Portfolio Days, Blick in-store events, presentations for art teachers at venues such as School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Art Education Association Conference, school programming support, collaborative connections with Illinois School Boards, Art Educator Grants and more. For more information, go to www.ihsae.org.

Auroris Dance Co 2020

Sendoffs for Nationals, State

Good luck to the Auroris Dance Company who is traveling to Nationals and our swimmers/divers who will be competing at State.

Recent sendoffs were held at the schools:


Auroris Dance Co 2020Members of the Auroris Dance Company will compete at the 2020 National High School Dance Festival in Pittsburgh, PA. Auroris alum and hip-hop assistant director Chris Chueng choreographed the piece, elemen.o.p. (The Four Elements). Dancers include: Albert Luna, Anjani Padhiar, Ben Lehrer, Britney Le, Danielle Lehrer, Emily Feingold-Fisher, Jade LAjeune, Jadean Warburton, Kalliope Kobotis, Kylle Basillio, Maya Bral, Miranda Estrada, Monica Guerrero, Myka Punzalan, Neiko Gaoiran, Olivia Yoshioka, Olivia Hilby, and Summer Lee.  The Auroris Dance Company is under the direction of Deanna Sortino (Artistic Director), Zoe Hertz (Assistant Director) and Chris Chueng (Hip-Hop Assistant Director).
West Swimmers Divers for StateNorth swimmer Vincent Pi

Martin Bliznakov, Diving

Gabe Andra, 200 yard freestyle

Nikola Tadic, 50 yard freestyle and 100 yard freestyle

Luka Simic, Gabe Andra, Adrian Acosta, Nikola Tadic, 400 yard freestyle relay

Vincent Pi, 50 yard freestyle, 100 yard freestyle
Maya Learning logo

Schools to Begin Using MaiaLearning for Career/College Search Process

To our students and families of District 219:
Our school district is pleased to announce that we will be transitioning from our current “Naviance” Career and College Platform, to a new platform called “MaiaLearning”.  Current students will continue to have access to Naviance for the rest of this semester, and it will not impact our seniors during their career and college search process.
However during the course of this semester, we will be rolling out the new platform to our juniors first, and then the rest of the student body.  After reviewing a variety of products last year, our teams have concluded that the new platform MaiaLearning will clearly benefit our students and their families as they begin their career and college exploration.  Please watch for additional information from your respective schools.
Maya Learning jpg from website
Niles West Ping Pong Team being honored on 2-11-20

Board Honors February Make A Difference Winners


Niles North students who model inclusion and Niles West ping-pong enthusiasts who thrive under the mentorship of their sponsor were honored with the Those Who Make a Difference Award by Niles Township High School District 219 Board of Education members on February 11, 2020.



Niles North PALS leaders work for inclusion

Niles North PALS

“PALS is a service club which teaches and supports general education students to work with students in our Special Education program — specifically students who have profound disabilities,” said Niles North Principal James Edwards. “It’s an inclusion initiative where students focus on the socio-emotional realm and help their pal to feel valued in our school community through friendship. PALS play games together, participate and support activities such as the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) basketball team, engage in volunteer activities with their pal (such as working at Feed My Starving Children), and celebrate their friendship at an annual picnic event. They also help support transfer students and lead school-wide initiatives such as Autism Awareness Month and ‘Spread the Word to End the R- Word.’”

Edwards then introduced three PALS leaders:

Devin Zakeri is a junior who joined PALS due to his participation in CEC basketball at Niles North. “After going through training and developing relationships with some of his ‘pals’ in the classroom, he has learned so much about himself and about life,” Edwards said. “The kids in the classroom all have unique stories and lives that inspire him every time he sees them. Despite only getting to know the students as of this year, friendships have already been formed, and both the students and Devin look forward to ‘hanging out’ every week — whether it includes snowflake-making, coloring, playing Uno, or practicing how to ask and answer questions.

“According to Shannon Dwyer, many students in special education classes see the same people throughout the day and have very few friends who aren’t in their classes,” Edwards said. “This year marks her third year being part of PALS.” Shannon mentions that “every year I’ve come back because it has been extremely rewarding. I am happy to be the friend that my pal can look forward to seeing every Friday. Likewise, I am just as eager to see my pal. Spending time with my pal is just like spending time with any of my other friends. While it may take a little more patience sometimes, our conversations are very funny and interesting. I find that oftentimes, these students provide more of a service to us with how much better they make our day.”

One of Jason Le’s s favorite authors, Paulo Coehlo, said that “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” According to Jason, “Throughout the school day, I always like to remind myself to be more altruistic and empathetic towards others, because sometimes I feel as if I do not see enough of these characteristics among my own peers. PALS has helped me accomplish these ambitions; it has offered me perspectives I had never even thought of before. By engaging with students in the special education program, it has taught me to become more courteous and patient. I encourage others to support and join the program because you will quickly discover that these students offer many unique learning experiences.”

The Board also recognized PALS sponsor Christine Beeftink, who is a guidance counselor at Niles North. “I really believe that the students in PALS have the biggest hearts in the school,” Beeftink said. “They make such a difference in our school, and I learn something new from them every day.”


Ping-Pong Sponsor Inspires Niles West Players

Niles West Ping Pong Team being honored on 2-11-20

Niles West Principal Karen Ritter introduced Jerry Pope, Dean of College Counseling at D219, who sponsors the school’s Ping-Pong Club.

“Mr. Pope grew up on a farm and was the first to go to college in his family,” Ritter said. “He had great mentors during these formative years that took him under their wing, despite his many adversities, and he credits them in helping him finish college and setting him on the right path. Mr. Pope thinks of these important people in his life and has always had a strong desire to be that mentor in young people’s lives. He sees the potential in students when it is not always evident to others or even themselves, and he finds fulfillment in giving back.

“One of the first students Mr. Pope mentored was a former gang member. He had no resources whatsoever, but Mr. Pope saw a lot of potential and leadership in this student. Mr. Pope knew that if he didn’t help this student, he may never see him again, he may never go to college, and he may possibly stay in the gang. Mr. Pope made sure he got into college, got him a summer job, and stocked his dorm room with everything he needed. Mr. Pope also used his connections to make appointments with a doctor, dentist, financial advisor — all former students of his that did the work pro bono. The student asked Mr. Pope, “Why would you do all this for me? Why do I need all this?’ Mr. Pope replied, ‘Because you’re going to be successful and make a lot of money one day.’ This former student finished college, got his Master’s degree, Ph.D. and now teaches at a university. He is married and successful. Mr. Pope took a chance on him, and that chance changed the trajectory of the rest of his life. He says that sometimes one conversation, one interaction with a trusted adult can change the path for a student, and this is only one example of how Mr. Pope has been that trusted adult for a young person.

“Mr. Pope mentors young people because he sees himself in them,” Ritter said. “Since he’s worked in District 219, he has mentored countless students, and says that he does more college counseling in the hallways and during ping-pong club practice than in his offices at both North and West.

“The Niles West Ping-Pong Club started five years ago when a student asked Mr. Pope to sponsor the club, after everyone else he asked declined. Mr. Pope, knowing that he didn’t really know how to play ping-pong, said he’d think about it. The student walked away, discouraged. Mr. Pope, not wanting to let the student down, said, ‘OK! I’ll do it!’”

“The ping-pong club started with two broken-down tables and a coach who didn’t know how to play. After a year, the club grew to 40 students. Today, the ping-pong club has 15 tables and over 100 students on the roster.

“Most of the students, like Mr. Pope, knew very little about ping-pong when they first started, but with practice and help from their peers, they have increased their passion and their skill for the sport. Even Mr. Pope has improved and claims that he beats everyone. It has been reported that he talks a lot of smack.


Ritter then introduced Ping-Pong Club Captain Dylan Tran and Ping-Pong Club President Jaber Khan.

“Dylan became the captain, and he helps lead the team with Mr. Pope,” Ritter said. “He feels that ping-pong brings people together and that it’s a positive influence. Dylan likes it because anyone can join and get involved. Ping-pong is making a difference in students’ lives because it’s a way to socialize, to compete, and to mentor one another while having fun at school. He says Mr. Pope is great for his mental training because he talks so much smack during matches.

“Jaber, the president, helps to supervise and lead the team,” Ritter said. “He enjoys talking to Mr. Pope about getting into a good college. He thinks Mr. Pope is a great sponsor and is good at recruiting students to the club.

“Mr. Pope’s life, many of the students he’s mentored, and the evolution of the ping-pong team is a story of how greatness can be achieved from meager beginnings,” Ritter said. “It’s a story of seeing the potential in others and guiding them down the right path. It’s about giving back and talking smack, but it’s mostly about mentoring others to reach their full potential. Thank you Mr. Pope, Dylan and Jaber for all the mentoring you do and for changing students’ lives.”

Ritter also thanked Anthony Ty, a West alum now in college who serves the team as assistant coach.

Niles North Cheer team

North Cheer Team to Compete at State

Update:  The Niles North Cheer team placed 10th in the Coed Team division at the State Finals.

The Niles North Cheer team took third place at the Sectionals on February 1, which qualified them for the State Finals this weekend in Bloomington, IL.  They are led by Coaches Aleka Landon, Natalie Hoss, Max Davito, and Ivana Peric. Congrats on this tremendous accomplishment and good luck this weekend!

Niles North Cheer team

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.