BREAKING NEWS: Community disservice: Ten percent of OLCHS seniors won't graduate

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Approximately 10 percent of Oak Lawn Community High School’s senior class is not expected to participate in graduation ceremonies Wednesday night because they allegedly falsified paperwork indicating that they completed mandatory service hours.

School district officials realized last week that 47 seniors submitted service hour forms that included the forged signature of Stony Creek Golf Course Superintendent Bill Krueger. A 48th student has been banned from graduation ceremonies because he forged Krueger's signature on 45 of the forms, Supt. Michael Riordan said.

The student charged his classmates between $10 and $20 for each signature, Riordan said, and has served a five-day suspension from school.

Approximately 400 seniors will participate in graduation ceremonies Wednesday night at the Shannon Center at St. Xavier University.

“The kids did not meet graduation requirements,”  Riordan said Monday. They will receive their diplomas when they complete the required service hours.

The students who submitted falsified documents indicated that they had completed their required service hours by volunteering at Stony Creek Golf Course, which is part of the Oak Lawn Park District.

Students were informed last week during individual meetings that they would not participate in graduation ceremonies, Riordan said. District administrators also talked to the students’ parents on the phone or at the meetings, he said.

Riordan said administrators did not become aware of the deception until last week when they compared Krueger’s signature on two forms submitted at the last minute with ones handed in earlier in the year.

“The signatures looked different,” Riordan said. “It was a fabricated signature.”

Further examination revealed that all of the forms that bore Krueger’s signature were bogus, Riordan said.

Until that point, school officials had no reason to doubt the validity of the Krueger’s signature, the superintendent said.

They had confirmed earlier in the year with the park district’s volunteer coordinator that Krueger was authorized to sign service hour sheets, but no one at the park district had seen the signature, Riordan said.

A small number of parents asked the school to consider a different consequence, but “this is our policy,” Riordan said.

“There’s no one on this building that’s taking any pleasure in doing this,” he said, adding that most of the students expressed remorse for their actions.

OL mayor says seniors are getting ‘screwed by politics’

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury said resident seniors are getting “screwed by politics” regarding a proposed series of land exchanges and purchases that would lead to the development of a new senior center.

“It’s just a shame the seniors get screwed by politics, and I don’t think that’s right,” Bury said at Tuesday’s village board committee meeting. “People chose to make this sensational, and seniors are the ones who are losing. This was a great idea.”
The land exchanges and purchases involved the village, park district, Mancari’s auto dealership, 4630 W. 95th St., and St. Paul Lutheran Church, 4660 W. 94th St.
Under the terms of the proposal, St. Paul would sell a 61,740 square-foot parcel located adjacent to the church to Mancari’s, who would deed the property to the village. The village, in turn, would deed the property to the park district.
Mancari’s would then negotiate with the park district to purchase a 41,862 square-foot parcel located between the dealership and the Oak Lawn Ice Arena. The village would then negotiate with the park district and Mancari’s to secure the funds needed to build the senior center.
The agreement would give the park district additional open space and provide Mancari’s room to expand its landlocked dealership, Bury said.
Park district officials initially seemed open to the plan, but in a Jan. 23 memo to village manager Larry Deetjen, park district attorney Tom Farrell said the park board did not wish to have further discussions with the village concerning the senior center.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Another Mezyk brings down the house at Senior Idol event

jeff column

Orland Township’s Senior American Idol celebrated its second show on May 6 and for the second year in a row, a Mezyk brought down the house.
This time it was Josh Mezyk.
In 2013, Orland Park’s Tom Mezyk won the inaugural event at Georgios Banquets in Orland Hills. The 60-year-old was ecstatic after he had the 900-plus in attendance pounding their tables while he tore through Phillip Phillips’ “Home.” He was also happy that he was able to perform an original tune, “I’ll Take Your Place.” He was touched by the crowd’s reaction to the song, which is about a convict who was about to be executed and met Jesus.
Then the man known to friends as “Deuce” and his wifeDR-Page-3-2-col-Josh-for-jv-colJosh Mezyk, top photo, sings about his late father, Tom, and Kym Frankovelgia, bottom photo, showed a lot of energy while singing “Build Me Up Buttercup” at the Orland Township Senior American Idol on May 6. Photos by Jeff Vorva.DR-Page-3-2-col-Kym-for-jv-col took a trip with a group to the Holy Land in late June and early July and Mezyk suffered a fatal heart attack near the Western Wall.
It was shocking because those who knew him said he had no previous health problems.
This year’s Senior American Idol event featured a tribute to Mezyk, performed by his son, Josh.
Josh took the stage before the final five contestants were ready to battle it out for the 2014 title and sang a self-penned tune, “Living to Legend,” in honor of his old man. The song can be found on along with some other tunes that he has written and performed.
When it was over, he received a thunderous ovation, just as his dad did a year ago. The song is both sad and uplifting and somehow, somewhere I imagine that pops heard it and was pretty proud.
More Idol talk
Like last year, this was a pretty solid show by folks who can just plain sing no matter what age they are.
This isn’t a bunch of geezers and geezettes messing around – these people have respectable chops and some have performed professionally. This isn’t amateur hour here.
The winner was Tinley Park’s Joe McElligott, who a few years ago had his career kickstarted when members of the Generations Band saw him singing at Sam Buca’s in Palos Heights. They call themselves an “old guy basement band” and perform around the area.
McElligott won over the judges but my favorite contestant was runnerup Kym Frankovelgia of Downers Grove. She was the only woman in the final five and her rendition of “Build Me Up Buttercup” killed. I don’t know how old she is – and I wasn’t going to ask her – but she had a lot of bounce and energy in her performance.
I was a bit disappointed that I got there in the second round and that Palos Hills’ Ray Parker and Palos Heights’ Beverly Opelka were already eliminated after the first round.
But the rest of the night was entertaining.
This is an event that drew 1,600-plus in the two events and money goes to the Township’s scholarship fund. I hope it continues to be a success.


Gin Blossoms head Staggapalooza

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Stagg High School is throwing an all-day Staggapalooza bash Saturday to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
  The day will start at 8 a.m. with a craft fair and 5K run and end with a concert headlined by the Gin Blossoms followed by an 8:30 p.m. fireworks show at the athletic stadium.
  In late 1980s, Gin Blossoms started to grow a following in Phoenix and its jangle-pop sound was evolving during radio’s diverse mix of hair bands and grunge music superstars like Nirvana. After the Phoenix New Times chose it as the citys best rock band, it qualified to play at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin Texas in 1989. That same year, College Music Journal dubbed it as the “Best Unsigned Band in America” and added an invitation to perform on MTV’s New Music Awards in New York City.
  Taking its name from a caption on a W.C. Fields photo, Gin Blossoms signed a record deal with A&M and recorded its first EP “Up And Crumbling” in 1991. But, it was not until its breakout record “New Miserable Experience” in 1992 that its rise to fame began.
  “New Miserable Experience” kept the band on the charts for almost three years with singles “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” “Until I Fall Away,” “Mrs. Rita,” and “Found Out About You.”
  The schedule of events for the day:
  8 a.m. —5K Race Registration
  9 a.m. —5K race begins
  8 a.m.-5 p.m. — Craft fair on south side of campus
  9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — Pancake Breakfast in Commons
  9 a.m. to noon — Vendor Fair in Charger Gym
  11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Main stage performances in stadium
  11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. — Food vendors
  5:00 to 8:30 p.m. — Gin Blossom Concert in Stadium
  8:30 to 8:45 p.m. — Fireworks
  There are various price ranges for the event including a $3 half-day pass and a $10 mega all-day pass.

Chafee a big wheel in basketball circles

  • Written by Claudia Parker

PAGE-1-color-ella1Even though she is holding a WNBA ball signed by the Chicago Sky, Ella Chafeew of Oak Lawn is a new member of the NWBA Hall of Fame. Photo by Jeff Vorva.
When the National Wheelchair Basketball 
Association announced its Class of 2014 into the NWBA Hall of Fame, Ella Chafee of Oak Lawn rolled her eyes in surprise and her wheelchair up the platform to accept. 

Chafee graced the ballroom stage at Louisville, Kentucky’s Crowne Plaza April 5 for the official ceremony of induction. The NWBA Hall Of Fame began in 1973.
“I’m one of only 11 women to receive this honor over 41 years.” she said
Chafee is known by her peers as a pioneer in the development of the Women’s Division of the NWBA. Her affiliation and longevity in wheelchair basketball is considered legendary by many.
“Back in 1980, the NWBA didn’t have a women’s team,” she said. “I wanted to play, so I started my own.”
The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago became the team’s official sponsor. Today that team is known as RIC Sky.
“When we first started, we had six players, just enough to have a sub. Let me tell ya, I played a lot of minutes,” she said.
Chafee said she has been a lifelong lover of sports.
At the age of six she contracted an acute viral infection known as polio, causing asymmetric paralysis. Only her legs were affected. Polio, however, couldn’t stop her.
“I’m a natural born tomboy. As a child, my first love was playing baseball,” she said. “I had a runner but I did my own hitting.”
She’s also pretty good in the water, too.
Chafee held national records in the 50-yard backstroke, winning two world records in swimming.
She also broke records in 800- and 1500-meter track events. She was selected for eight major international competitions, the Stoke Mandeville Games, Pan American Wheelchair Games, and three Paralympics over the span of three decades.
She also was one of the initial female marathoners and participated in the Boston Marathon in 1979, was the founder of the Chicagoland Area Women’s Wheelchair Sports Association, and is a USA hall of fame recipient for Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports.
Robert Syzman, of Morgan Park, is an associate professor of health, physical education and recreation, at Chicago State University and an inductee of the NWBA Hall of Fame. He served as a coach to Chafee and countless others and introduced Chafee during the hall of fame ceremony.
“The hall of fame committee found Ella suitable after a forensic search of the Chicago Charmers, RIC Express, and RIC Sky rosters yielded numerous names of young women whose wheelchair basketball careers began at her insistence,” he said “I believe Ella’s path to achievement was accelerated while she was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, working with her proclaimed mentor, Tim Nugent and her coach, Stan Labanowich.”
 The U of I has one of the best divisions for disability resources and educational services in the nation. Syzman said,
“Ella was surrounded by some of the finest wheelchair athletes of the day. It made her a versatile athlete.”
Due to her success, the University of Illinois Delta Sigma Omicron, Alpha Chapter presented Chafee with the prestigious Harold Scharper Lifetime Achievement Award.
 If you ask Chafee, she’s modest about her accomplishments and her induction speech was concise. She joked, “I would’ve said more but Bob stole my thunder.”