Your Sunday digest and weekly summary of top stories

Harmony Cardenas
Haven Middle School. (Photo by Adina Keeling) Credit: Photo by Adina Keeling

Good Sunday morning, Evanston, and to those who celebrate, happy Passover, Easter and Ramadan.

Although Haven Middle School has seen its fair share of fights and disciplinary problems over the years, several teachers told the RoundTable that any past situations pale in comparison with what the staff has faced this year. 

“I’ve never seen this level of disrespect and this level of violence and abuse toward staff members in 26 years,” said Amy Odwarka, a longtime librarian at Haven.

Over the last two weeks, the RoundTable spoke to more than 10 current and former teachers and staff members at Haven about fighting at the school and an alleged lack of care or concern from the building administration, the district and the school board.

Sometime in mid-April, the Illinois Department of Health will reach a decision regarding the licensing of Albany Care, a mental health facility in Evanston that has drawn concerns from both neighbors and residents of the facility due to purportedly poor management. 

Fourth Ward Council Member Jonathan Nieuwsma shared this update at a meeting Thursday, adding that there’s a possibility that IDPH will revoke the facility’s license. Nieuwsma said this is not the optimal outcome because it would mean finding housing for more than 300 people currently living in the building.

In case you missed any of the most important news last week, here’s a roundup of the top stories from the RoundTable.

City News

A proposed Northlight performing arts center on Church Street. (Northlight rendering)

Council backs $2 million grant to Northlight, $1 million to The Aux in biggest moves so far to speed recovery. Evanston City Council members approved giving $2 million to Northlight Theatre to assist the theater in its return to the city, and $1 million to The Aux, a group working to create a Black business hub and wellness center.

Mayor Biss announces ‘big step in mental health access.’ Mayor weighs in on the City Council’s unanimous vote to allocate $900,000 in federal COVID-19 rescue funding to set up a “Living Room” to provide immediate care to people in mental health crises. He called it “one critical step in closing the gap and making our community the just, compassionate, safe, and welcoming place we aspire to be.”

The potential Oakton Street location for the new store. (Photo by Bob Seidenberg)

Salvation Army pledges to take steps against donation dumping in second go-round of resale shop. The Salvation Army, which built up a solid clientele at its previous Evanston resale shop on Kedzie Street just off Chicago Avenue, hopes to open a new store at the Gordon Food Service site at 2424 Oakton St.

COVID-19 update as of April 14: Seven-day average of new cases in Evanston jumps 78% New COVID-19 cases in Evanston, suburban Cook County, Chicago and the state increased again in the last week. Hospitalizations, however, remain at relatively low levels.

The Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform (Screen capture of news conference) Credit: Screen capture of online press conference

Group lobbies to make Skokie’s electoral system more like Evanston’s. A nonpartisan group formed by Skokie residents is pushing to change Skokie’s electoral system, which has not been altered since 1961, in a way that makes it more like that of its neighbor Evanston. Here’s the response from Skokie’s longtime Mayor George Van Dusen arguing against the group’s proposal.

(Photo provided by Mettle Sports) Credit: Photo provided by Mettle Sports

City kicking around idea for soccer pitches in Church-Darrow area. City-owned properties at 1805 Church St. and 1708-10 Darrow Ave. lie in the West Evanston tax-increment financing district and are slated to be redeveloped years down the road. Until then, though, the city is considering a proposal to use the green space for street-soccer pitches.

A protest against fossil fuels. (Photo provided by Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary)  Credit: Photo provided by Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Ecology and theology meet at new seminary center. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, located on Northwestern’s campus, is celebrating Earth Day in eco-style. The school recently established the Center of Ecological Regeneration to help spread “eco-theological understandings, earth-based religious practices, and cooperative solidarities,” according to its website.

Interim City Manager announces key Parks & Recreation leadership appointments. Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski made three key leadership appointments in the city’s Parks & Recreation Department. Audrey Thompson was appointed Parks & Recreation Director, Michael Callahan was named Assistant Parks & Recreation Director and Tim Carter was appointed Lakefront Manager.

Signage includes a prohibition on amplified music. (Photo by Bob Seidenberg)

Turn down the volume. Members of an Evanston City Council committee are recommending changes to the city’s noise ordinance, such as extending the distance music and amplified sound must be from private properties and setting a decibel limit on the noise.

KemperSports hires General Manager of Canal Shore. Tom Grey has been named to head the venerable city golf course. He was previously Sales and Golf Operations Manager at The Marriott Lincolnshire Resort – Crane’s Landing Golf Club in Lincolnshire. A personal highlight for Grey, who grew up in Winnetka, was to serve as the personal caddie for the legendary Jack Nicklaus in 1993 for both PGA and Senior PGA Tour Events, including the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.


Foster Field (RoundTable file photo)

Future of Foster Field in doubt as District 65 eyes site for new 5th Ward school. Foster Field is a busy place in spring, summer and fall. Teams play football, baseball, soccer and ultimate Frisbee on the athletic fields along the south side of Simpson Street between Dewey and Ashland avenues. But this may be the last season for such Foster Field activities.

The ETHS special education team (Screenshot via ETHS YouTube)

ETHS updates how it provides special education; team stresses giving students with IEPs a voice. At Monday night’s meeting of the Evanston Township High School District 202 School Board, members of the district’s special education team spoke about updates to special education programs designed to improve support for students amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mario Borha, Program Chair of Emory Williams Academy for Black Men (Photo provided by Oakton Community College)

ETHS partners with Oakton Community College on new initiative. Evanston Township High School is teaming with Oakton Community College to empower Black men to navigate college and achieve academic and career goals.

A show of gratitude for Haven teachers. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Haven parents express gratitude for teachers amid recent incidents. To show support and appreciation for Haven Middle School teachers, parents organized a show of gratitude for every day last week, kicking off with a small demonstration before school on Monday.

“Our Star” designed by ETHS Junior Sophia Hogue.

ETHS junior is one of six finalists in Cook County flag redesign contest. Evanston Township High School junior Sofia Hogue is one of six finalists, with her entry “Our Star,” in a competition to design and launch a new Cook County flag.

Art & Life

Evanston author Suzannah Q. Pratt (Photo by Ellen Galland)

Book review: The year of living frugally. Food. Toiletries. Light bulbs. A few pairs of shoes for the kids. How much other stuff does a family truly need in one year? That question – and the consumption of household items in general – is the focus of a new book of essays by Evanston writer Susannah Q. Pratt. 

Rank and File | ETHS teams finish second at High School Chess Nationals. The Evanston Township High School Chess Team had its best national performance in years at last weekend’s National High School Championships in Memphis.

Eye on Evanston: Thoughts on Design | Evanston’s cultural and commercial landmarks. When we think of landmarks we generally think of historically or architecturally significant buildings. But institutions can be culturally important without occupying a significant building or place. 

Serena Phillips poses for a photo. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Dreams Delivered returns, makes prom dreams come true once more. As Beyonce’s Single Ladies played through a speaker on the second floor of the Woman’s Club of Evanston, dozens of teenagers got ready for prom, one of the biggest nights for high schoolers.

(Photo credit: Jean Cunningham)

The week in photos: April 4-11. Spring in Evanston makes herself known – with sprouting crocuses, bunny nests and blooming squill, pictured above.

Sara Shaaban at Witchy Woman World Apothecary. (Photo provided)

Woman-owned spring market manifests on Elmwood. Elmwood Avenue turned into a modern witch’s dream on a Saturday afternoon when Witchy Woman World Apothecary owner Sara Shaaban hosted a women-owned business spring market.

Hoops for the Ages. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

Hoops for the Ages tourney proves seniors take their basketball seriously. More than 90 men and women players participated in the free, all-day three-on-three hoops tournament April 9 hosted by the City of Evanston and the Levy Senior Center Foundation. Organizer Rob Bady hopes the event will become a yearly tradition.

Guillermo Herrera plays on a miniature drum set he built. (Photo by Adina Keeling) 

Art-makers and Earth-lovers unite at Art Maker’s Outpost Earth Month event. Earth Month inspired the most recent community event at the studio, 609 South Boulevard. Children and families stopped by April 10 to make art out of recycled materials, paint a large outdoor mural, join a drum circle and snack on some cookies.

What’s with people who ask no questions? Dear Gabby,  What’s up with people who, in a social setting or otherwise, ask no questions of you when you are asking multiple questions of them? Cat got your tongue?

Book Bird: Watching children’s lit from afar. Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy, writes the Evanston Public Library’s Betsy Bird. Cited as the largest international rights fair in the world, attending means getting to peruse art for kids from all over the globe.

Public Square

Metallic foil confetti in Lovelace Park. (Photo by Sigrid Pilgrim)

Letter to the editor: Shun the shiny foil confetti, for parks’ sake. Friends of Lovelace Park is urging everyone who uses our parks for art projects, parties and more to not use shiny metallic foil confetti but instead use paper confetti.

Peggy Tarr: In the month of April. The month of April has many days that have annual designations for specific dates, but it also has designations that vary in date from year to year in April or occur in different months altogether.

Charles Wilkinson: Peace, within and all about – a meditation. When I feel turmoil deep within I try to understand the source of my unease. Especially when I feel the need to cry, to turn my pain to prayer on pleading knees.

From District 65 Superintendent: Important update regarding Haven’s culture and climate. Superintendent Devon Horton sent an email April 11 to all district parents saying “District and school leaders are very aware of the challenges that Haven students and staff members are currently facing and that these issues have been long-standing. These are situations that we are collectively concerned about and we recognize that Haven’s landscape must be intentionally addressed.”

Former District 65 teacher: Evanston can do much better than this. As a former teacher in District 65, Judy Baumann wrote, I am distressed to hear the continuing news coming from the district. I am hearing that there are a number of teachers, principals and department heads that have left the district because of the lack of respect for their professionalism.


ETHS baseball: Vasquez saves Wildkit win in pitching debut. Alex Vasquez helped the Wildkits win their much-delayed home opener, earning his first varsity save while striking out six of the 10 batters he faced in a 7-5 conquest of Lincoln Park. Evanston chalked up its fifth win in a row and improved to 8-2 on the season.

ETHS baseball: Wildkits building trust as win streak reaches four. Backed by 10 outfield put outs, Hank Liss tossed six shutout innings and Evanston blanked Marist 6-0 for its fourth win in a row. The Wildkits improved to 7-2 on the season on the neutral field turf of the Schaumburg Boomers home field.

ETHS girls water polo: Kits settle for split in back-to-back tests. Even with a four-goal lead early in the fourth quarter against archrival New Trier, Avery Cummins never stopped hustling on defense Saturday.

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