‘Wax Museum’ comes to life

  • Written by Kelly White

wax museum photo 6-1

Photo by Kelly White

A Living Wax Museum was held May 19 at Most Holy Redeemer School in Evergreen Park. Fifth-grade student dressed as historic figures and when called on, provided information on their lives.


Grace Curley has always loved sports and has been playing basketball for over 10 years. But the fifth grade student at Most Holy Redeemer School in Evergreen Park also believes girls can do anything they want to.        

“Basketball might have only been a boys sport before, but when I think of it now, I think of it as both a boys and girls sport,” said Curley, 11, of Evergreen Park. “Girls can do anything that boys can do. I’m going to be a professional basketball player.”

But on May 19, Curley and other fifth grade students at Most Holy Redeemer provided their classmates and visitors with a sense of history. In this instance students gave a visual display of historic figures during the “Living Wax Museum.”

While Curley dreams of one day playing in the WNBA, she looks up to women who have excelled in the field of science. In this case, she said her drive comes from Sally Ride, an American physicist and astronaut. Curley portrayed Ride in the Wax Museum event, donning white clothing and holding a helmet at her side. Behind her was a poster marking many of Ride’s accomplishments.

When students, teachers or parents would come by her station in the school gym, she began reciting facts about the female astronaut. Ride joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983.

“She (Ride) is a great role model for all girls and women,” Curley said. “She did something only men were doing at the time, and she wasn’t afraid to do it. She proved that girls can be anything they want to be and do anything they want to do.”

She joined 41 other fifth-graders who dressed in costume and provided information about historic figures.

The theme of the project was “American Heroes,” dubbed by teachers Nancy Cagney and Bronwyn Azzaello. Students picked a hero from any time period they were interested in, researched their lives and personified them as a character in a living wax museum.

“They were able to pick a person that they were interested in and for their own reasons,” Azzaello said. “They really get into the characters, bringing them to life.”

Each wax figure had a box next to their poster board display. Any time a coin was dropped into the box, the students gave a two-minute speech, which they created and memorized, to each listener. They did this while dressed in full character.

The event was open to all other Most Holy Redeemer students, faculty, parents and siblings. Last year’s project gained $1,000 that was donated to the American Cancer Society. This year will be no different, according to Cagney.

“You see students come and drop in handfuls of pennies, knowing it is going to a good cause,” she said. “It’s very sweet.”

Students prepared for the project for six weeks, practicing their speeches at home and in their classrooms.

“I chose Abraham Lincoln because he is inspirational,” said MaryKate Daly, 10, of Evergreen Park. “Not only did he end slavery, he was also president. But more importantly, I chose him because even though he had a poor childhood he fought through it and still had a good life.”

“This project is a lot of fun because the student not only learns a lot, but they learn from studying a person they picked out. But they also learn a lot from each other, and even the teachers learn things, too,” Cagney said. “I think the children really enjoy it because it’s such an interactive project.”

Local legislators ready to fight cuts to Meals on Wheels

  • Written by Joe Boyle

While the state budget stalemate continues into June, state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th) recently voiced her displeasure over cuts proposed by the Trump administration that she said would result in in the reduction of the senior Meals on Wheels program.

“Donald Trump and his extreme allies' proposal to slash funding for Meals on Wheels would jeopardize the health and wellbeing of countless Illinois seniors,” Burke said. “I stand in opposition to any proposal that would take away life-sustaining services from our seniors, while cutting taxes for the extremely wealthy.”

Burke is one of 37 legislators who are cosponsoring House Resolution 274, which states the Illinois House of Representatives' opposition to efforts to oppose any cuts to the Meals on Wheels, the congregate meals program, and community block grants that provide funding for senior meal programs.

Joining Burke in opposing cuts to the Meals on Wheels program is state Rep. Frances Hurley (D-35th). The resolution passed the Illinois House on May 24.

Burke has linked the Trump administration proposed cuts to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who she said has not “introduced a responsible budget for our state's most critical services.”

She is defending the Meals on Wheels program by voting to pass a lifeline budget to sustain it and prevent local seniors from being denied critical care.

Representatives of the Trump administration said that these critics do not have their facts straight. President Trump's 2018 budget suggests cutting funds for the Department of Housing and Urban Development by about $6.2 billion, which is a 13.2 percent decrease from the 2017 funding level. Half of those savings would come by eliminating the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant, which provides funding for a variety of community development and anti-poverty programs, including Meals on Wheels.

A spokesperson for Rauner said the governor is aware of the delays in funding for programs like Meals on Wheels and said they are working to change the structure of payments.

Nancy LeaMond, the executive vice president of the AARP, said that it is imperative that our nation continue to fund Meals on Wheels because the need is great.

“Meals on Wheels and many other senior programs have literally been starved to the bone while the demand for these services is greater than ever before due to aging demographics,” LeaMond said. “Without continued investments in these cost-effective programs, taxpayers will end up paying far more to hospitalize or otherwise care for the frail elderly, many of whom are homebound.”

According to officials at the Meals on Wheels program, they serve more than 2.4 million seniors from ages 60 and up. Due to physical limitations or financial reasons, many of these seniors have difficulty shopping for or preparing meals for themselves, according to Meals on Wheels.

Researchers at Brown University in 2013 said that in most states, increasing Meals on Wheels enrollment would result in a net savings from decreased Medicaid costs for nursing home care.

Besides providing food, Meals on Wheels officials said they offer much-needed human contact for homebound seniors. One of the benefits of in-person delivery is that it has decreased the rate of falls in the home, saving the nation about $34 billion a year, according to Meals on Wheels.

Many seniors who live in the southwest suburbs have benefited from the Meals on Wheels program, according to Burke.

Burke said she will continue to stand “with seniors and senior advocates like the AARP to oppose politicians' dangerous cuts to senior Meals on Wheels, which would affect the more than 115,000 elderly residents who depend on the program.”

Oak Lawn man charged after dogs are thrown off roof

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

parking garage photo 5-25

Photo by Dermot Connolly

Animal cruelty charges have been filed against a man who allegedly threw two toy poodles off the top floor of the five-story parking tower C, beside Advocate Christ Medical Center, in the 9300 block of South Kostner Avenue, in Oak Lawn.


Oak Lawn resident Edward Hanania, 22, has been charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty for allegedly killing one dog and badly injuring another by throwing them off a five-story parking garage at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn on Saturday.

Hanania was being held in Cook County Jail and was awaiting a bond hearing.

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Oak Lawn Chief of Investigations Randy Palmer said Monday that police responded to a report of two injured dogs found between hospital parking towers B and C in the 9300 block of South Kostner Avenue, at 12:07 p.m. Saturday. The dogs, both male white toy poodles, were transported to the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge. But the 6-year-old, later found to be named Guerrero, died of injuries suffered in the fall. He was the father of the younger dog, 1-year-old Angel, who survived and is being treated for a badly broken leg and swollen ribs. Staff at the Animal Welfare League said the dog’s recovery could take three months.

His survival is attributed to him falling on grass, while the older dog fell onto concrete.


“I don’t know a motive. We’re looking at this individual’s full background, trying to piece together what transpired and why,” said Palmer during a press conference on Monday. “It is not something that a normal person would do. We are all baffled by this. We have trained investigators that worked homicides and everything else, and this one just baffles my mind,” said Palmer.

He said investigators learned that the dogs had somehow gotten out of their yard in Chicago on Saturday. Someone found them at 55th and Troy Street in the city, and according to reports, posted photos of them on a Facebook page dedicated to reuniting lost dogs and cats with their owners.

Hanania is alleged to have claimed to own the animals and they were turned over to him. They were gone by the time the true owner came to pick them up, with photos and medical records proving they were his.

Palmer described the owner as “devastated,” after learning the fate of his pets. He has taken Angel home, along with the remains of the other dog.

“Considering the heinousness of this crime, we would like to see him charged to the full extent of the law,” said Palmer of Hanania, who, he said, has a criminal record.

“Trying to figure out a motive is mind-boggling to me. Why someone would do this to a harmless animal that is not hurting anyone (is baffling),” he concluded.

Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: It was a final show of Pride in the regionals

  • Written by Jeff Vorva




Photo by Jeff Vorva

Queen of Peace players celebrate a surprise regional title – its first since 2008.



The final athletic event for soon-to-be-closed Queen of Peace High School took place on Tuesday as the softball team dropped a 11-1 decision to powerhouse Nazareth Academy at the Nazareth Class 3A Sectional in LaGrange Park.

Yes, there were the usual tears and miserable feelings that come with the end of an era like this.

But one thing can’t be taken away from these players.


The Pride faced De La Salle in the Illinois High School Association regional finals at what turned out to be the last sporting event hosted at the Burbank school.

All indications were that the crying and miserable feelings for the Pride was going to take place, oh, somewhere between 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. after it lost to the Meteors.

The Pride entered the game with a 9-20 record and was the fifth seed in the sectional. It had already lost to fourth-seeded De La Salle three times. On April 22, the Meteors beat the Pride, 11-4 and 8-7 in a doubleheader in Chicago. On May 12, De La Salle won 16-6 in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference tournament.

So there was that…



The Pride players also had to play in front of a third coach this season.

Kelly Small was relieved of her duties in early May.

“She’s a good kid, but I had to make some changes,” Pride Athletic Director George Shimko said but wouldn’t give specifics.

Assistant coach Stephanie Ruvalcaba took over the job but had a family event and that caused JV coach Andy Schindel to take over the team on Saturday.

So there was that…

There was also thought of this being their last game hanging over the players’ heads.

But Peace came up with a stunning 10-3 victory over the Meteors and instead of tears and misery, there was an unexpected regional trophy and celebration.

It was the program’s sixth regional title and first since 2008.

And the Pride’s last.

“What a way to go out,” Shimko said.

“This was very memorable and everyone is going to love it,” said Amber Anderson, a senior who transferred to the school after her first school, Mt. Assisi, closed after her freshman year. “The last game here couldn’t have gone any better.’’

The Pride took a 7-0 lead and, despite a few anxious moments at the end of the game, got out of a few jams and won the title.

“This was actually amazing,” Schindel said. “The girls were ready to play softball. We had a really good practice (Friday) and progressively, we continued to get better. I couldn’t be happier with the way they came out and played and the way they decided to take over.”

Losing three games to the Meteors was ancient history when the players stepped on their home field for the last time.

“We didn’t think about the other games at all – we knew we couldn’t come out with any negativity,” Anderson said. “We came out here knowing we could do it.’’

Other members on the 13-member roster this season were Alex Demma, Ashley Lynch, Morgan Fitzgerald, Nicole Rybolt, Genae Grabowski, Jovannna Martinuccci, Autumn Rizzo, Meagan Hecker, Kelly Tomaskovic, Kelly Walinski, Emilia Flores and Ashley Kevin.

“They stepped up to the place literally,” Schindel said. “They had some fun today. They had a lot of fun and I’m very proud of them. I wasn’t necessarily nervous – anxious is a better word. I was prepared and they were prepared and came out and got the win today.

“It’s definitely an experience I will never forget. ’’



Violent brawl at Oak Lawn High School leads to arrest

  • Written by Staff and wire reports

Two female students engaged in a violent brawl Monday morning at Oak Lawn Community High School, with one of the students stabbing and injuring the other with a pair of scissors.

The students who suffered lacerations to her arms, neck, and forehead was identified as Destinee Garza. She reportedly was treated at a hospital and released.

The girl with the scissors was not identified, but she was arrested by Oak Lawn police later in the day. She had fled the school after the fight broke up.

Video of the hallway brawl, recorded by numerous students on their cellphones, was widely distributed on social media.

Garza’s mother, Barbara Garza, told ABC-TV Eyewitness News that the other girl was “out to kill my child.”

That girl showed no remorse,” Barbara Garza said.

The melee, which broke out about 11 a.m. between classes, lasted about 35 seconds, according to reports. Video of the incident show numerous punches being thrown by both girls.

Destinee Garza, who is seen in the video of the incident wearing a black T-shirt and shorts, told ABC-7 that she was attacked by the other student.

“I felt something, but…it didn’t feel like a punch,” she said in the TV interview. “She just kept stabbing me, I guess. I didn’t know she had the scissors in her hand at all.”

Oak Lawn police did not have any further comment after the incident because the two girls are juveniles. But police did say that the girl with the scissors will be petitioned to juvenile court. She could be charged with aggravated battery.

In a statement to ABC-TV, a school district spokesperson said: “We have very high expectations, both academically and behaviorally for our students at Oak Lawn Community High School. It is part of our school’s mission to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our students, which is why we are so disappointed by the actions of these individuals. We will utilize appropriate school procedures to ensure each student’s due process rights are provided, and we will then determine shat school consequences will be issued. These consequences may include external suspension and referral to the Board of Education for expulsion.”