Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Emotions run high at at two all-girls schools

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

It was quite an emotional Monday night at two all-girls schools that are not physically in our area, but have students from the area attending them.

The emotions ranged from hope and despair at one school to unbelievable triumph at the other.

On the same night that the Mt. Assisi community held a vigil to try to keep its school alive, the girls basketball team at Queen of Peace won its first game of the season after a long losing skid.

A few weeks ago, news broke that Mt. Assisi in Lemont was closing after 63 years of service. Lack of money and a declining enrollment were the death knells for the school on the hill.

On a cold night, hundreds of students, parents and former students put on their warmest clothes and lit candles for the cause. Multi Chicago TV camera crews were also on hand for the event in which a few tears were shed.

But tears won’t prevent the school from closing – money will.

And effort is underway to save the school with a Facebook page called Save Mt. Assisi. So far, they raised $7,000, which is a nice start, but there is a long way to go.

“This is only the beginning!” posted and boasted Beverly resident Peggy Shukstor Healy, who is the president of the school’s parents association. “Like I said [at the vigil] we all need to work together – parents, students and most important, the faculty. The attendance at the vigil showed how important this cause is and we will not give up without a fight.

“The best lesson we can teach our children is that if you are passionate about something, do all you can to make it happen. Never say never!’’

Added Mandy Burke: “I was there with my 3 1-2 (year-old) daughter, who asked me when we were walking from the car to the front of the building, ‘when do I get to come here?’ I hope and pray she has the chance to.’’





Mt. Assisi students (left photo) pose during better times a few years ago but Monday night the community hosted a vigil to try to keep the school open. On the same night, Queen of Peace’s basketball team (right photo) won its first basketball game this season after 23 losses.

Photo by Jeff Vorva



On the same night as the vigil, the Queen of Peace girls basketball team made a trip to Chicago’s De La Salle High School and snapped a 23-game losing streak with a 48-30 victory over St. Benedict in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference tournament.

For anyone who played on, or had kids on, a team that loses all their games, this is a big deal.

My son, T.J., played on a school team that was headed in that direction. The boys found every way to lose, including an overtime loss in which one of our guards put the ball in the wrong basket, which was two points for the other team. I was in Tempe, Ariz., when they finally won their first game late in the season and when I heard the news, I shouted so loudly, I think they heard me back home. And that was just a third-grade game.

Queen of Peace opened the season with 22 turnovers against Oak Lawn. All in the first quarter.

The team also lost a holiday tournament game 53-3 to Bolingbrook.

But Monday, they experienced the sweet taste of victory and did not commit a single turnover.  Everyone played at least three minutes and Jelyn Chua had 12 points and six assists, Maggie Bennett added 11 points and Allie Herman had 10 points.

At the end of Monday night’s game, there wasn’t a lot of emotion displayed because of a coach’s mandate.

“I know how excited they were,” Pride coach George Shimko said. “But I told the girls to act like we’ve been there before even though we hadn’t been there before. So there was no running around the court and going crazy.’’

But once the Pride got behind closed doors, things changed.

“When you beat a team, you don’t want to gloat,” Shimko said. “But in the locker room and on the bus ride home, it was a little crazy. We’ve been through more this season than anyone else, but we are still together and no one has quit. This win was a testament to their hard work.’’




WHATIZIT? 1-30-14

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 You folks were certainly wizards last week and dr-color-2-col-waz-1-30I don’t mean Washington Wizards.

  Speaking of the Washington Wizards, last week’s Whatizit was a photo of the leg and foot of the statue of Washington Wizard Michael Jordan outside the United Center. Oh, yeah, he played for the Bulls, too.
  Many of you Whatizit wizards guess right and a few guessed wrong. Once again, Harrison Debre of Willow Springs was the first to ring in with the correct answer.
  Other six-time world champions were Chicago Ridge’s Kelly Peterson, Patty Vandenberg, Dan Higgins, and Bill Ivers, Hickory Hills’ Jack and Griffin Burke Faddis, Oak Lawn’s Bob Foley, Worth’s German Cordova, Russ Martin, Theresa and George Rebersky and Robert Solner, Evergreen Park’s Vince Vizza, and John Schikora and Palos Park’s Michael Staron.
  An MVP award goes out to Henrietta Mysliwiec of Evergreen Park, who added this tidbit: “I did not know this, but this statue is attached only in one place at the knee.”
  Those who shot airballs were those who guessed a leg and foot from the little girl on the bench statue outside of the Palos Heights library and a left-handed pitcher.
  This week’s clue is that it’s been handy to have around for the past couple of weeks.
  Send those guesses to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with WHATIZIT? on the subject line. Don’t forget your name and hometown. Photo by Jeff Vorva.

Stagg adds carbon monoxide sensors after Dec. evacuation

  • Written by Tim Hadac

Students, faculty and staff at Stagg High School may breathe a little easier now that carbon monoxide detectors are being installed at the school, 8015 W. 111th St., Palos Hills.
The action is in response to a Dec. 4 incident at the school, in which a strange odor led to a mass evacuation, with about a dozen students and teachers transported to local hospitals as a precaution.
School officials have said they believe that unusual weather conditions on that day caused a high amount of motor vehicle exhaust to be pulled into the building’s fresh-air intake vents.
“School staff have performed air quality checks multiple times per day since the initial incident and have found no issues,” High School District 230 Director of Communications Carla Erdey told The Regional News. “Carbon monoxide sensors are being installed on the fresh-air intakes throughout the school. Three sensors have been installed, and eight more are in process. If these sensors detect an issue, they will shut down the air intakes and notify maintenance staff.”
According to a statement released by the district last month, “emergency first responders determined that there was no hazardous condition in the school building [on Dec. 4] and released the building back to the school district late in the afternoon. This determination was based upon analysis of air quality in the building and thorough checks of the school’s mechanical systems. In addition, Nicor checked the building twice and determined that there was no natural gas leak.
“At the hospital, some students and staff were shown to have had carbon monoxide exposure, according to medical personnel,” the statement continued. “However, first responders determined that there was no evidence that the carbon monoxide was generated from systems within the building and at the time of their response, no carbon monoxide was present in the air in the school building.”
“We tested before school, during school, after school, outside, inside, in spaces near the boiler,” stated district Superintendent James M. Gay at a district meeting late last month. “We had an outside contractor--White Environmental—come in to help.”
The additional steps are expected to be a topic of discussion at tonight’s District 230 meeting, set for 7 p.m. at Sandburg High School, 13300 S. La Grange Road, Orland Park.

Old fashioned gala kicks off Chicago Ridge anniversary

With “100 Years of Progress” to celebrate,page-5-2-col-bannerBanners for Chicago Ridge’s 100th anniversary are adorning the village. Photo by Jeff Vorva. the Village of Chicago Ridge will kick off the yearlong celebration with a Centennial Gala, which will be held April 12 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Glendora House, 10225 S. Harlem, Chicago Ridge. The Centennial Gala will be semi-formal or 1914 period attire and will include a catered dinner, live music, a silent auction, raffle baskets and a 100th Anniversary souvenir.
Ticket prices for the Centennial Gala will be $40 for adults and $35 for seniors 65 and older. The event is open to adults only. This event is not just for residents of Chicago Ridge, but for anyone that would like to celebrate the 100th Anniversary. Tickets for the Gala will go on sale the end of February.
In addition to the Centennial Gala, Chicago Ridge businesses have an opportunity to participate in a 100th anniversary souvenir ad book. A letter with an application was mailed out to all Chicago Ridge businesses. This is also open to all Chicago Ridge families who may like to congratulate Chicago Ridge on this milestone.
Residents and local businesses may also notice that 100th anniversary banners are being placed on the streetlights near participating businesses or near residential homes. Applications for both the ad book and the banner program are available at the Village Hall or on the newly improved Village website –
If you or someone you know has moved from Chicago Ridge that might be interested in attending the Centennial Gala, please call the Chicago Ridge Village Hall with the names and contact information, so that invitations can be sent.
For more information regarding the purchasing of tickets for the Centennial Gala, the Souvenir Ad Book or Anniversary Banners, call the Chicago Ridge Village Hall, 708-425-7700.

– Submitted by Village of Chicago Ridge

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: She’s finally the retiring type

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



Regional Publishing’s Ulanowski leaves after Page-3-2-col-Sharon-for-JV-COLOne of the last stories that retired Regional Publishing typesetter Sharon Ulanowski worked on was this column. Photo by Jeff Vorva.decades of service

  When Sharon Ulanowski walked into the Regional Publishing office as the company’s new typesetter for the first time in the summer of 1972, it was hot outside.
  It was worse inside.
  “There was no air conditioning,” she said. “We had fans blowing. The old press was here and that gave off heat. It was hot and muggy.”
  Ulanowski walked out of the Regional Publishing office Tuesday on her final day as a typesetter in temperatures on the wrong side of zero with plenty of snow piled up visible from the parking lot.
  In between the sizzler of ’72 and the freeze of ’14, Ulanowski has spent decades typesetting copy of stories and ads for the Regional and Reporter newspapers. It’s almost impossible to figure out how many stories she has seen and it’s unimaginable to figure out how many words her eyes have seen jeff columnduring her career here.
  “I love my job,” she said. “I like the typing. I like reading the news. I don’t read the newspaper at home because I read the stories here.”
  In recent years, she has used a computer to get the work done. In the old days, it was different.
  “We punched holes on a yellow strip,” she said. “It went into a big machine. We called it ‘Beauregard.’ It ran through the machine and it came out on film. Then we ran it through the smelly chemical processor. We had to let the film dry and we had to trim it and ran it through a waxer and then we had to paste it all down.”
  I’ve known Sharon for the past 16 months of her career and have stayed on her good side for most of them.
  She did most the news work for the Regional and sports for both papers. In July, when I was mulling if I should move from Regional reporter to Reporter editor, she insisted I stay with the Regional because we worked so well together.
  The next time I saw her after I accepted the job as Reporter editor in August, she greeted me warmly with a “Good morning, traitor.”
  Aside from that day, we got along pretty well even though I know she wasn’t happy a few weeks later when I approached her about the Football Forecast feature in sports that we wanted to try out for the first time.
  While it sounds simple to have five goofballs picking about 10 prep football games a week, it took a lot of work on her end to get everything lined up just right to make the graphic look as good as it did.
  When we did our last Football Forecast after the state championship, I jokingly announced that we were going to do it for basketball as well. Have you ever heard of the term “stink-eye?” Well, that day I got it.
  Before coming to our offices, Ulanowski worked at Chicago Title and Trust and took four years off before coming to our offices in Palos Heights on that hot day in 1972. She is originally from Chicago and attended Immaculate Conception Grammar School and St. Peter and Paul High School — both have ceased to exist after her departure (hope that’s not an omen).
  It’s the end of an era for us at the Regional and Reporter. Few papers use typesetters anymore.
  Ulanowski lives in Bridgeview with her husband, Tom (of 45 years) and together they have made some of the best Christmas sweets you ever wanted to eat. We will insist that she stops by in December to fill our bellies with holiday goodness.
  Their son, Paul, is a Cook County Sheriff’s officer who teaches at Moraine Valley Community College and is a gun range instructor. Her daughter-in-law is also in the printing business at Fischer Printing in Bridgeview. Her retirement will feature fun with her grandkids, Raymond Richard (age 9) and Madison Mae (7).
  “They are the love of my life,” she said.
  So our loss is her grandkids’ gain.
  Just two pieces of advice to the kids:
  First, make sure you hug your grandma often because she loves her hugs.
  Second, don’t make her do any Football Forecasts.