Sliver of "Hope" by Sophia Gonzalez

Niles North artists receive 54 awards (!!) in the 97th annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa announced the regional award recipients of the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative teens across the country in grades 7–12. This year, more than 330,000 works of art and writing were submitted to 100 Affiliate regions across the country. Since 1923, the Awards have fostered the talent of millions of students and feature a distinguished list of alumni including Andy Warhol, Stephen King, Kay WalkingStick, Joyce Carol Oates, Charles White, and Tschabalala Self, all of whom received recognition through the program when they were teens.

For Gold Key works of art and writing in the Awards’ 29 categories, the opportunities for recognition will continue when those works are adjudicated again on a national level by a panel of leading creative professionals. National Gold Medalists will be announced in March 2020 and will be honored during a special awards ceremony at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in June 2020.

The following Niles North students earned Gold Keys: Jillian Shor, drawing and illustration; Kirsten Ng, ceramics and glass; Elina Callas, mixed media; Ilhana Kisija, drawing and illustration; Nathan Miron, photography; and Olivia Yoshioka, photography (2).

The following students earned Silver Keys: Cecelia Yoo, printmaking; Jeremiah Kodavatikanti, printmaking; Lanie Mae Rasay, mixed media; Lauren Sonnier, painting; Melanie Hong, ceramics and glass; Ali Bhatti, photography; Amela Perazic, photography; Brooke Rickett-Green, drawing and illustration; Cameron Murzyn, photography; Charlize Antonesi, digital art; Ezekiel Cordeiro, photography (2); Jordan Podolsky, photography; Julia Kendziora, photography (2); Kieran Micari-Lawless, photography; Nina Malhotra, photography(2); Olivia Hilby, photography; Rebeca Bran, photography; Safeena Khan, photography, and Sophia Gonzalez, digital art.

Honorable Mentions went to: Cecelia Yoo, digital art; Marissa Benesa, printmaking; Olivia Yoshioka, design; Saira Shamim, printmaking; Charmaine Melegrito, painting; Dyllan Bowering, drawing and illustration; Jennifer Le, ceramics and glass; Ava Engstrom, photography; Blessing Eberemichael, photography; Caleb Stirbu, photography; Cameron Murzyn, photography, Elijah Ramos, mixed media; Elina Callas, painting; Gracelyn Sensibar, design; Helga Vigh, photography (2); Julia Kendziora, photography; Kieran Micari-Lawless, digital art and photography; Marika Kalodimos, photography; Michael Lemus, photography (2); Olivia Yoshioka, photography; Seebell Warda, photography; and Maya Levy, writing.

For more information about the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, visit Additional details about the Awards can be found in the Scholastic media room:

See below – selected (award-winning) photography submissions!

"Glow" by Nathan Miron

“Glow” received Gold Key, Nathan Miron

"Hope" by Sophia Gonzalez

“Hope” received Silver Key, Sophia Gonzalez

"Family Love" by Safeena Khan

“Family Love” received Silver Key, Safeena Khan

"Close Up Beauty" by Amela Perazic

“Close Up Beauty” received Silver Key, Amela Perazic

Un Reve en Verre - by Olivia Yoshioka

“Un Reve en Verre” received Gold Key, Olivia Yoshioka

North Auroris Dance 2020

North’s Auroris Dance Company accepted to National High School Dance Festival

The Auroris Dance Company was one of 75 schools accepted into the 2020 National High School Dance Festival at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA on February 26 through March 1.  They competed against fine arts high schools, and dance schools from China, Australia, and Canada to gain acceptance into the festival. Only 30% of the high schools that auditioned were accepted.

Niles North Auroris Dance Company alum and hip-hop assistant director Chris Chueng choreographed the piece, elemen.o.p (also known as The Four Elements). The piece will close out the Friday night show, and the dancers cannot wait to perform. Students will have the opportunity to take master classes from over 150 professional dancers and attend over nine dance performances throughout the Festival. They will be taking classes alongside some of the best high school dancers from around the world. Congratulations, Auroris, on this remarkable achievement.

Auroris dancers are: 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).

There will be a Nationals sendoff for the Auroris Dance Company at 7:50 a.m. on Thursday, February 27 in the Niles North Gymnasium. Please attend to cheer on Auroris and send them your good wishes. All are welcome to attend!

The Auroris Dance Company will be fundraising to help offset the cost of the trip to Nationals. Donations can be made out to Niles North High School or simply donate online via Paypal to the Niles North Fine Arts Parents and Patrons:

Watch the nationally-recognized piece here:

Contact Auroris Dance Company Director, Deanna Sortino,, with any questions.

Chinese Artist gives lesson in Calligraphy to Niles North class

The Chinese New Year 2020 began on January 25 and runs through February 8. 2020 is the Year of the Rat, according to the Chinese zodiac. To celebrate the Chinese New Year, Limin Dove, a Niles North Chinese teacher, welcomed Zhaoyu Wan to her classes to demonstrate Chinese calligraphy. Mr. Wan introduced the Four Treasures of the Study:  ink brush, ink stick, paper and ink stone, the tools of Chinese calligraphy and painting, then provided a demonstration. The students practiced writing the Chinese characters fu, for good fortune or luck. Turning the characters upside down, means that luck is arrived, or that good fortune is literally descending on the house.

Zhaoyu Wan works in various media, including watercolor, brush painting, oil painting, calligraphy, seal carving, photography and painting on porcelain. His art has been exhibited at the Chicago International Art Exposition, Art Frankfurt (Germany), La Mostra Internazionale d’Arte, Basel (Switzerland), and in solo and group shows in the U.S. and abroad. His works are in private and corporate collections in the U.S., France, Italy, Sweden, Japan, the U.K., and other countries.

Coming Together 2020

Coming Together presents: Journeys to Niles Township

The Opening Ceremony was held on Sunday, January 26 at Niles West High School. Check out event photos at the bottom of this message!
The program extends through April 2020 and the list of events can be viewed at  
Talk to any person in Niles Township and they’ll have a story for how they or their family got here. Some are stories of recent immigration, others of being transported to these lands against their will. Still others are stories of fleeing oppression or relocating in search of greater prosperity. Our origin stories are as central to who we are as the cultures we are a part of and celebrate.
For the past decade, Coming Together has explored some of the cultures present in our community. This year, we will explore something we all have in common: the stories of our journeys to Niles Township. 
Follow along on Facebook @ComingTogetherSkokie or Instagram @ComingTogetherSkokie.
Some notable upcoming events:
Wednesday, February 5
7 p.m.
East Prairie Elementary School Atrium
7616 East Prairie Road, Skokie (Parking is off of Dobson Street)
Join us for an evening with Jasmine Warga, author of Other Words For Home. This lyrical, powerful book is sure to spark powerful conversations with readers of all ages. Her books have been published in over 25 countries. 
Saturday, March 7
1 p.m.
Niles North High School Commons
9800 North Lawler, Skokie
Parents & Families can come together to share individual stories and experiences of their journeys to Niles Township, specifically to D219. There will be hands-on activities such as painting workshops, henna art, cooking demonstrations, performances and more. This program is a collaboration between D219 and D219 parent groups.
Saturday, April 18
6 p.m.
Niles North High School Main Gym
9800 North Lawler, Skokie
You are invited to a night of free entertainment. This biyearly tradition is an opportunity to find unity in what seems like a divided world. Our students remind us that we are a special community made up of cultural traditions and richness of identities. 

“Focus on Your Future” – Wednesday, 2/19/2020

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, 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 Viking Football - Sept 2019 Veterans Courtyard project

Vikings Football demonstrates that compassion doesn’t take the day off

Niles North football shows compassion on Labor Day

On Monday, September 2, the Labor Day holiday, the Niles North Viking football team did not take the day off, but rather treated it as a day on – a day for showing compassion, empathy and caring — by taking part in a community service project. The Niles North Viking football team athletes and coaches built picnic benches and spruced up courtyards for the veterans at Hope Manor in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Afterwards, they shared lunch and conversations, making special memories for all. Niles North Physical Welfare Director Paul Swanson said, “The community service project was a huge success. The men at Hope Manor felt blessed that our team would take time to serve.” The residents were still talking about the event days later.

Building picnic benches for Hope Manor

Constructing picnic benches for Hope Manor

Lunch at Hope Manor

Viking coaches serving up lunch for the team and veterans at Hope Manor.

Viking football making friends at Hope Manor

Conversations over lunch between Viking football and veterans at Hope Manor.

Niles North Viking Football - Sept 2019 Veterans Courtyard project

Niles North Viking Football – Sept 2019 Veterans Courtyard project

Head Coach Pat Pistorio, his staff and the team, showed that compassion and encouragement doesn’t take the day off.

Thank you for your caring and compassion and for valuing service to others!