Tag: Proviso Math and Science Academy

PMSA Families On Idea Of Moving School: ‘Drop It!’

Tuesday, May 28, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

The consensus at the fifth and final facilities master plan community engagement session — held May 15 at Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park — was loud, clear and expressed most stridently by Jose Espin, a PMSA parent.

Continue reading “PMSA Families On Idea Of Moving School: ‘Drop It!’”

6 Students Receive 209 Together Awards

Scholarship photo.jpgTuesday, July 25, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Ulyces Gutierrez (pictured), a recent Proviso Math and Science Academy graduate and Melrose Park resident, spent his time in high school waking up at 6 a.m. to head to school early before leaving to go straight to his job at Chipotle, where he would work until around 11 p.m. After, he’d go home, do his homework and go to sleep at around 2 a.m. Then, he’d wake up at 6 a.m to do it all over again.

“It was rinse and repeat,” he said in a recent phone interview. “My mom told me if work was too much I could just quit—it wasn’t like we were short on money. But I didn’t want to quit. I wanted to do something with my time.”

Gutierrez’s efforts have paid off in more ways than one. The 18-year-old is one of six graduates from Proviso Township High School District 209 who will each be presented with a $1,000 check during a 6:30 p.m. ceremony on Aug. 1 at the Howard H. Mohr Community Center in Forest Park. The scholarship is sponsored by the community group 209 Together and the Kiwanis Club Foundation of Forest Park.

“These talented and ambitious students have all been accepted to one or more 2- or 4-year colleges,” according to a statement released on July 20 by the scholarship committee.

The scholarship was established in 2015 as a “way to highlight the perseverance and academic excellence that is possible from graduates of Proviso East, Proviso West, and Proviso Math and Science Academy.”

Each student had to submit an essay along with general academic information in order to qualify for the scholarship. Peg Cecchi, one of the people who reviewed the applications, said she was “struck again and again by the desire and heart that these kids show.”

“They humbled me by sharing a slice of their lives and showing me that they have what it takes to be successful, not in spite of their challenges but because of their challenges, challenges that made them stronger.”

For Gutierrez, there was added incentive in overcoming the long hours and emotional drain of working nearly 40-hour weeks at Chipotle while putting in extra hours at school.

There were times when, he said, he would save up enough money to help his family with mortgage payments. But there is something much more satisfactory, he said. In the fall, when he enrolls as a freshman at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Gutierrez will be the first person in his family to attend college.

“Both of my parents emigrated from Mexico,” he said. “My mom dropped out of high school to work on a farm with my grandparents. My dad got his GED, but he never went off to college.”

Gutierrez said he now wants to be a model for his younger brother, a rising sophomore at PMSA.

“Since I’m the first one to go off to college, this is kind of a new thing for all of us,” the older Gutierrez said. “The $1,000 scholarship will be a big help.”

Members of Kiwanis Club and 209 Together praised the scholars for their sacrifices and their outsized roles in their respective communities.

“Kiwanis is proud of our award recipients as they set out to change the world for the better, one child and one community at a time,” said Gerald Lordan, the director of the Kiwanis Club Foundation of Forest Park.

“Our hope is to keep this going and each year add to the impact we have on the lives of kids form our very own communities,” said selection committee co-chair Michelle Woehrle. “We’d love to raise enough [money] to give additional support to past winners who are still in school.”

The scholarship committee started an online fundraiser to raise additional money for past winners. Those interested in giving money can visit: https://fundly.com/209together. VFP

The 2017 209 Together award recipients

Proviso East

  • Overcoming Adversity: Destiny Tartt
  • Persistence Pays: Kiana Walker

Proviso West

  • Overcoming Adversity: Precious Tonya
  • Persistence Pays: Diana Guzman


  • Overcoming Adversity: Ulyces Gutierrez
  • Persistence Pays: Aaliyah Henderson

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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