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

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. 

D219 Default Announcement logo

AFFINITY Meeting on Jan. 30

AFFINITY invites you to attend its next meeting on Thursday, January 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Niles West Lit Center at Niles West High School, 5701 W. Oakton, Skokie. Under discussion will be developing a success strategy for college. Please RSVP:

The 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

D219 Default Announcement logo

Safety Message from Niles West Principal

Niles West Principal Karen Ritter sent the following note on December 12 to Niles West students, families, faculty and staff members. 

Dear Students, Teachers/Staff, and Parents/Families,

The safety of our school community is always our top priority, which is why I must inform you of a situation that came to light today involving a threatening message. A recent Snapchat group message has been circulating among students, alluding to a student using a “Mac,” which could be interpreted as a Mac gun.

We identified the students involved in the group chat and conducted an investigation, in addition to notifying local law enforcement. Through our investigation, we learned that the threatening message was sent as a response to a prior verbal altercation. Police are following up with the student who made the threat and the student’s parent/guardian.

Our Student Services Department is aware of the situation. If you need to speak with a counselor, social worker, or psychologist, please do not hesitate to contact one of them.

Please know that we take all situations seriously that could be threatening to our school community. We recognize that we have had a series of recent threatening messages communicated via social media. Students should not use threatening language, even in jest. We will enforce school discipline and work directly with law enforcement whenever students use language or exhibit behavior that poses a threat. We remain committed to providing our students with a safe, positive learning environment.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


Dr. Karen M. Ritter
Niles West Principal

Indo-Pak Club at Diversity Celebration

Niles North Diversity Celebration

Niles North held a Diversity Celebration, honoring the many different cultural clubs at the schools. Participating groups were Assyrian Club, The Association of Jewish Students, Chinese Club, Filipino Club, German Club, Hellenic Club, Indo-Pak Club, Israeli Club, Korean Club, Latinx Club, Pan Asian Student Association (PASA) and Students Organized for Anti-Racism (SOAR).

Assyrian Club - Niles North
Israeli Club
Jewish Students Association
German Club
Chinese Club at Diversity Celebration
Hellenic Club at Diversity Celebration
Assyrian Club
Latinx Club at Diversity Celebration
Indo-Pak Club at Diversity Celebration
Students Honored at D219 Board meeting on

Those Who Make a Difference Honored at 12-3 Board Meeting

Four students were honored with the Those Who Make A Difference Award at the D219 Board of Education’s December 3 meeting, and board members recognized their club sponsors as well.

Seble Maru and Nahom Tekeste, Niles North

Students Honored at D219 Board meeting onSeble Maru, a junior, was nominated for the Make A Difference leadership award by Jonda Cherry, a Special Education paraprofessional who sponsors DREAM (Developing Resourceful ways to Encourage Alliances and Mentorship), an organization that encourages black, Afro-Caribbean, and African girls to gather together, share common experiences and form a sense of unity.

Last year, DREAM partnered with another club, NOTICE, to create a program called “Who Am I?”, which asked students to research and represent biographical sketches that highlight significant contributions black people have made throughout the history of the United States. The students presented their pieces in performances in the Niles North auditorium that were open to all students throughout the day.

Maru portrayed Madam C. J. Walker, an African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist who was considered the wealthiest black self-made woman in America at the time of her death in 1919.

Maru credited sponsor Cherry for challenging her and fellow students to recreate the stories of the historical figures, whose stories are not all well known.

The project “helped us learn about the important influence all these people had,” Maru said at the board meeting. She said that in her middle school there were not a lot of students who looked like her. When she came to Niles North and became involved with DREAM, “It made me feel that I matter more in this world, because there are other people who are like me and who share some of the same experiences as a black woman in America.”

Nahom Tekeste, a junior, was also part of the “Who Am I?” production. After researching the life of inventor George Washington Carver, Tekeste portrayed him in the production. He is a member of the NOTICE Club, whose name stands for Nurturing Our True Identity Commanding Equity. The club is sponsored by John Bias, a Special Education paraprofessional at Niles North, who nominated Tekeste for this award.

When receiving his award, Tekeste told board members that he credits NOTICE with helping him become “a better student and a better person.” He joined the club as a freshman and said that in the past two years he has seen the meetings evolve from simple conversations over lunch to more focused efforts to become more successful black students and young men.

Niles North Principal Jim Edwards said that the NOTICE Club made a big impression on the Niles North school community when, this September, the young men passed out roses to all female staff members on Women’s Appreciation Day.

Tekeste gave credit to sponsor Bias, who he said he considers one of his “uncles,” since he consistently emphasizes the importance of making good choices in school and in life.  Tekeste also thanked club supporters Glenn Sevier, a Niles North social worker who helps students talk about important issues, and Anthony Whyte, a Special Education paraprofessional who conveys the experiences he had as a teenager and his ways of succeeding in college and life.

Tekeste says that NOTICE has helped him keep his grades up and makes him focus on being a better person. The club, he said, “is a real brotherhood.”

Students Mike Schuller and Hammad Memon and Robotics Sponsor Rob Foster, Niles West

Students Honored at 12-2-19 Board meeting“When I think of a strong team, it is made up of committed individuals who have a strong work ethic, perseverance, creativity, and motivation that contribute to the collective skill set of the whole team,” said Niles West Principal Karen Ritter, when introducing the December award honorees. “It is made up of humble people who are not afraid to fail often in order to improve. It is made up of people who are committed to making an investment in one another to build a community, strengthened by collaboration, sweat, and literally, nuts and bolts.

“The Niles West Robotics 321J Team, led by teacher Rob Foster and Team Leads sophomore Mike Schuller and senior Hammad Memon, has found the secret to a successful team,” she said. “With just one day of practice at school on Mondays, Mike and Hammad led their team to win the Mundelein Robotics Championship in October of this year, followed by the Skills Challenge at Von Steuben High School. They also recruited students who have skills in coding, building, driving, completing the engineering notebook, and developing strategy. If you ask them how they won, they will not talk about themselves, but they will instead talk about the team and the individual strengths everyone else brings to the team.

“When I asked Mr. Foster about Mike and Hammad, he said that they energize each other and they have created great chemistry on the team. Mr. Foster said, ‘You don’t create technology in a bubble. Being able to work with others builds the skills necessary to be productive people in society.’ Mike attributes their success to Hammad bringing on the right people, and Hammad recognizes Mike for bringing the team together on Friday nights at his house for pizza and focused non-robotics time together. At the tournament, they won despite having a broken motor with only three minutes to repair it.

“They appreciate Mr. Foster’s dedication to the Robotics Club, but acknowledge the fact that Mr. Foster’s support stops after supplying them with materials. The rest is up to them.”

Schuller and Memon then gave a demonstration of their robot for the Board of Education, showing off this year’s intricate task of picking up cubes, balancing them atop each other, and moving them collectively to a drop-off point.

Foster told the board that Niles West has about 50 students actively competing in Robotics this year. “They are not only learning problem-solving skills and collaboration, but students like Mike and Hammad are learning leadership skills. They are truly emerging leaders among their peers.”

Foster also recognized Skokie resident Mike Horowitz, who is not only an assistant coach of Niles West’s Robotics team, but also a grandfather of a Niles West student who was also on the team.

Horowitz said he got to know honoree Schuller when he was still at Skokie/Morton Grove School District 69’s Lincoln Junior High, whose Robotics team is one of the “Little Nine,” the nine elementary school districts that send their students to D219 schools. Next year all nine districts will have a competitive Robotics team.

D219 Board meeting

12-2-19 Board meeting

D219 Default Announcement logo

Update #2 on Threat at Niles West

Niles West High School Principal Karen Ritter sent the following note to Niles West parents and families at approximately 6 p.m. on November 20, 2019 to update them on a social media threat.

Dear Niles West Parents and Families,

I am writing to update you again about the social media incident this week. Please know that my intent is to be as transparent as possible to address your concerns, but also understand that there are details that I am not able to share concerning minors.

Concerning the original Yolo message, the threat is not credible. With the student’s parent consent, I can share with you that the student who posted that message will not be in attendance for the rest of the week and will not return to Niles West.

We take all threats seriously and notified students that they may receive disciplinary and/or legal consequences by sharing, responding to, and reposting the message. Today, a student replied to the original message which caused Skokie Police to investigate as a result. We want to reiterate that students should not repost/share/reply to such messages in any event. Students should instead refer concerning messages to the deans immediately.

Finally, there was a miscommunication from a parent to the Skokie Police Department, which caused a police response to the building. The police investigated and determined that there was no cause for concern.

We will continue our increased police presence this week as a precautionary measure. Additionally, administrators will be present at student entrances in the morning. Beginning tomorrow and moving forward, as part of our increased security measures, we will ask students to present their ID as they enter the school.

As always, the safety of our students and staff is our number one priority. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter. We understand the stress that these events cause, and our Student Services team is ready to provide support to all of our students.

We encourage all of Niles West students, staff, parents, and community members to say something if they see something. Our safety is a collective responsibility. Please contact me with any questions or concerns. Outside of school hours, please call the Niles West security desk at (847) 626-2842, which is available 24/7. In addition, you can call the Skokie Police Tipline at (847) 933-8477 (TIPS).

Dr. Karen M. Ritter
Niles West Principal