Month: April 2017

New D209 Board Majority Sworn Into Office, Kelly Re-Assumes Presidency

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A screenshot of live video feed posted to Facebook by Proviso Together showing the slate’s four candidates getting sworn into office at PMSA on April 27. 

Friday, April 28, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Three years after members of the Facebook group “Forest Parkers For Better Schools” met inside of Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor in Forest Park to talk about the direction of Proviso Township High Schools District 209, the group is now solidly steering the ship.

In 2015, the group, informally called the “Brown Cow 20,” fielded Proviso Together, a three-person slate of candidates to run for three open school board seats. All three candidates — longtime incumbent board member Teresa Kelly, Claudia Medina and Ned Wagner — won handily.

Two years later, Proviso Together pulled off another sweep, with all four of its candidates — Amanda Grant, Sam Valtierrez, Della Patterson and Rodney Alexander — winning first terms.

At an April 27 special meeting held inside of the cafeteria at Proviso Math and Science Academy, the four new board members were sworn into office by outgoing board president Theresa McKelvy and Kelly re-assumed the presidency after a unanimous vote.

Grant, who garnered the most votes among the 8-person school board race, was voted vice president while Medina was voted secretary.

In 2016, a year after Kelly had been elected board president, she was ousted from that position when board members McKelvy, Brian Cross, Dan Adams and Kevin McDermott voted to shorten the board president’s tenure from two years to one. McKelvy was then voted Kelly’s successor.

With Kelly again at the helm, the new supermajority is hoping that they can pull off a complete overhaul of a district where, fewer than five years ago, Wagner and Medina were worried about sending their children.

On Thursday, both board members announced that each had one child who would be enrolling at PMSA in the fall. Medina said that when her son received his acceptance letter to PMSA, he called Ned’s son.

“[My son] said, ‘No matter what we do, we’re going to stay together,’” Medina said. “We’re all here together.”

In their remarks, all of the board members stressed unity and togetherness, a constant theme of both the 2015 and 2017 campaigns.

“It is time for Proviso to unite and to be one union,” said new board member Sam Valtierrez, of Melrose Park. “We have to break the curse of disunity that has broken our community. We must get involved and let the fear go. [That’s how we’ll] see the transformation of our wonderful schools.”

“There is a wealth of talented and amazing people here,” said Grant. “We have the resources. We pay about $90 million in taxes each year to Proviso District 209. What we needed all along and have been sorely lacking is a unified board of education that understands that students come first.”

“I pledge to be earnest, hardworking, full-time, available and consistent in discharging these responsibilities and duties,” said Alexander. “And most of all, I pledge to work together [with fellow board members] as a team.”

Some board members emphasized the importance of enhancing equity at the district. The issue was a centerpiece of a burgeoning strategic plan that D209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez presented to the public at a meeting at PMSA last week.

“I am fully committed to working with all community stakeholders to ensure that regardless of where your child is enrolled, he or she will have the resources to succeed,” said Patterson.

Patterson added that her focus will be on raising the district’s standard of academic performance, increasing the range and amount of selective courses that are offered and making AP and IB courses more widely available at Proviso East and Proviso West.

Wagner said that he plans on building on the record of accomplishments, particularly in the area of equity, that have been secured during the young tenure of Rodriguez, who was hired roughly a year ago.

“I want to continue working on making our schools a welcoming environment for our kids and parents,” Wagner said, before pointing out a range of measures that have been implemented within the last two years, such as offering more training for security staff at the district and putting in place restorative justice measures at the school a year before the passage of SB 100.

“We were talking about restorative justice a year before SB 100 was passed, which is the law that schools have to do everything they can to keep kids in school rather than just expelling or suspending them,” he said. “We put some good practices in so we’re in really good shape. I want us to build on that, expand on that and create a culture of understanding ad acceptance in our schools so our kids can grow into responsible adults.”

Kelly presented each board member with copies of compasses, “to remind us to measure our progress, because we know that movement does not necessarily mean progress. Each of us as a group has a moral compass that will allow us to know right from wrong, good from bad.”

“We are no longer responsible to the interest of any one person or special group,” Kelly said, “but we are accountable to all of our children and to all of our communities.” VFP

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Illinois Prairie Path Cleanup Saturday, April 29, 8:45 AM

Earth day cleanup photo

Friday, April 28, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

The Illinois Prairie Path, which runs through many communities throughout the state (including Maywood and Bellwood), needs sprucing up! Each year, community members throughout the area come together for an annual cleanup.

Join us as we clean up the Maywood and Bellwood section of the path. We’ll meetup on Saturday, April 29, 8:45 a.m. to 12 p.m., at 1100 S. 11th Ave. in Maywood.

Please bring your favorite gardening gloves and rakes. We will have some available, but its better to have extras. Garbage bags will be provided.

High school students, this is a great way to get community service hours. For more information contact JoAnn Murphy at JOANN.DEBOCK.MURPHY@GMAIL.COM. VFP

F E A T U R E D  E V E N T 

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At Resource Fair, Maywood Seniors Enjoy Chair Yoga

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Senior citizens participate in Chair Yoga during the April 22 Ideas for Life Senior Fair held in Maywood. Below, a senior receives a free health screening. | Michael Romain/VFP

Maywood Senior Fair_1Thursday, April 27, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

More than 100 senior citizens packed the Maywood Multipurpose Building, 200 S. 5th Ave., last Saturday for several hours of free health screenings, resource workshops, socializing and even Chair Yoga.

The April 22 event, dubbed the “Ideas for Life Senior Fair,” was organized by the Village of Maywood and Solutions for Care, an organization started in 1972 to assist senior citizens and adults living with disabilities. The fair was the first of its kind in the organization’s history.

“The purpose of this was to connect seniors in Maywood and other areas in Proviso Township with resources and have them all in one room,” said Christine Flynn, a representative with Solutions for Care.

Along with Solutions for Care, other local anchor institutions and organizations were represented at the fair, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Westlake Hospital, Oak Street Health, the West Cook YMCA and Proviso Township.

Westlake healthcare providers administered free health screenings while representatives with Proviso Township passed out literature promoting the township’s array of senior services, which include free transportation to and from medical appointments, handy man services application-writing assistance, among other services.

Representatives with the West Cook YMCA guided a roomful of at least 40 seniors in Chair Yoga exercises as David Myers, Maywood’s Assistant Village Manager, who helped coordinate the event, looked on with a smile.

“We wanted this to be an event where our seniors could get hardcore information that would be a resource to them,” Myers said. “I talked to Larry Shapiro, the Maywood Senior Club coordinator, and he thought it was a good idea.”

Connie Riales, a senior club member who helped Shapiro organize the event along with Myers and Flynn, said that most of the members of her club were in attendance.

“I think this is important because seniors still make a difference,” she said. “Without their wisdom, [the world] wouldn’t exist. We need the wisdom of our seniors.” VFP

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