Hickory Hills, resident John Gorman, a master’s student in the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) from Miami University’s Project Dragonfly and Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo, will travel to Hawaii this summer to study the extinction of Hawaiian species and what it takes to save them in the wild. Gorman is a science teacher. Since the program began 10 years ago, Earth Expeditions graduate courses from Miami University’s Project Dragonfly have engaged more than 1,500 people in firsthand educational and scientific research at critical conservation field sites in Africa, Australia, Asia and the Americas. Dragonfly’s AIP master’s program began in 2010 with the Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo and Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. The program is now also offered at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Denver Zoo, Phoenix Zoo, San Diego Zoo Global, Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo and Woodland Park Zoo (Seattle). *** Cornell College, a private liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa, has accepted several students from the area, including: Jacob Slusinski of Oak Lawn, who was also awarded the Community Enrichment Award; Timothy Daker and KateLynn Hohman, both of Evergreen Park, and who were also awarded the Presidential Scholarship.
During the April board meeting at Moraine Valley Community College last Wednesday, the board approved retirements of a handful of employees, which was predicted by the college’s administrators due to the new pension reform laws. In early December 2013, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the new pension reform bill, which is expected to save the state of Illinois $160 billion over the course of 30 years by cutting automatic annual increases, limit pensionable earning and raise the retirement age by five years as of June 1. “After meeting with other college administrators I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to see a wave of retirements due to the new pension reform laws,” Moraine Valley trustee Tom Cunningham said. “There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered and it’s causing a wave of retirements across the board, not just at Moraine Valley.” Overall, across public colleges and universities in the state, 3,356 employees retired in the first six months of 2012. Two years ago, 2,171 employees retired in the same time period, according to Moraine’s retirement source, the State Universities Retirement System. Moraine Valley approved 12 retirements in the past year. The teacher’s unions have already filed lawsuits challenging the law’s constitutionality, stating that the law goes against the Illinois Constitution due to “diminished or impaired” causes of the law on employees’ pensions. “The problem is that we don’t know what’s going to happen with the new pension reform law,” said Mark Horstmeyer, director of college and community relations at Moraine Valley Community College. “What would help is if we were able to put the pension reform on hold until the issue is heard by the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.” For employees under the State Universities Retirement System, the new law limits pensionable earnings as of June 1. Tier I employees – those who entered the system prior to Jan. 1, 2011– will not be able to earn more than tier II employees, which for fiscal year 2015, pensionable earning are capped at $110,631. Some provisions allow for longstanding employees to be grandfathered into the system. As part of the new law, SURS will begin skipping automatic annual increases, which some legislators have deemed a cost-of-living loophole, where administrators earn a three percent automatic annual increase each year. Automatic annual increases or cost-of-living adjustments are not based on the consumer price index and for some of the highest paid employees the AAI only leads to additional compounded debt put on the shoulders of the taxpayers. Due to the skipping of automatic annual increases most college professors would have to work an additional three years to earn the same amount prior to retiring on or before June 1. For a 50-year-old retiree the second automatic annual increase will be skipped. In the lowest age group, 44 years old and younger, the second, fourth, sixth, eighth and tenth automatic annual increase is skipped to further entice employees to work longer. SURS will use a new system to measure automatic annual increase, the $1,000 multiplier. Each employee will multiply $1,000 by years of service multiplied by 3 percent. Legislators feel the new automatic annual increase multiplier will not impact those who earn under $42,000 and this system will help reduce increases for those with the highest pensions. As of July 1, retirees under 46 years old will face a delay in retirement eligibility. The retirement age is determined by the employee’s age as of June 1. If a 45-year-old retires on or after July 1, a four month hold will be placed on the retiree’s retirement benefits. For anyone 31 years old or younger, there is a 60 month delay in retirement eligibility. Most college administrators would agree that public institutions such as Moraine offset lower salaries that are seen at four-year colleges or private college by offering generous pensions and benefits as an incentive to recruit top-notch college leadership. “There are a lot of vice presidents and qualified administrators who just don’t want to become the president of a community college and there is a growing need, nationally, for college leadership,” Horstmeyer said. “Serving as the president of a community college comes with the same responsibilities as a four-year college and a lot of administrators would rather stay in their VP position or avoid
Submitted photo.The Shepard High School band has been invited to take part in a commercial being shot at Toyota Park on Friday. There will be a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” feel to the commercial. “From what I have been told, the commercial is a parody on the Ferris Bueller parade scene with Chicago Fire player Mike Magee on a parade float and we would be the band playing “Twist and Shout.’ ’’ Band Director Chris Pitlik said. “This will be a nationally run TV commercial for MLS and the Fire. It will also be played as part of the advertising within the park on the big screen TV.’’ The band is pictured here at a Stanley Cup event in July.
Evergreen Park St. Bernadette Catholic Academy announced the students who received awards for the second trimester of the current school year. Earning high honors with grade point averages ranging from 3.6 to 4.33 were: • Grade 8: Elvira Alexander and Joelle Gillespie, • Grade 7: Layla Brown-Clark, • Grade 6: Kathleen Jacobson and Joseph Sullivan, and • Grade 5: Daniel McKeown and Noah Zukowski. Earning honors with 3.0 to 3.59 grade point averages were: • Grade 8: Caroline Dwyer, Candice Narcisse and Raven Smith, • Grade 7: Erin Gessert and Jalon Jones, • Grade 6: Anna Fitzpatrick, Hannah O’Neill and JaNiya Williams, and • Grade 5: Chioma Okolo. The students named most improved for outstanding academic effort to improve during the second trimester were: • Grade 8: Logan Andrews, • Grade 7: Amari Thomas, • Grade 6 Mia Tolbert, • Grade 5: Daniel McKeown and Jeremiah Powell, • Grade 4: Jaela Sanders, and • Grade 3: Britney Darling. The “What Would Jesus Do?” award was presented to students who best exhibit Christian values by being respectful and kind to all adults and peers, including: • Kindergarten: Gwyneth Gertonson, • Grades 1and 2: Hannah Bayorgeon, • Grades 3 and 4: Brianna Darling, • Grades 5 and 6: Joseph Sullivan, and • Grades 7 and 8: Raven Smith PERFECT ATTENDANCE was awarded to students in recognition of perfect attendance, with no tardiness, including: • Preschool: Eleanor Mueller, Anthony Harris, Esau Ruvalcaba and Jacob Ruvalcaba, • Kindergarten: Phoebe Mueller, • Grades 1 and 2: Hannah Bayorgeon and Caitlon Young, • Grades 3 and 4: Harrison Bayorgeon, Brianna Darling, Britney Darling and Gary Grizzard, • Grades 5 and 6: Reginald Sykes III, and • Grades 7 and 8: Erin Gessert, Jalon Jones and Imani Sykes.
Oak Lawn/Hometown Middle School Sixth grade students at Oak Lawn/Hometown Middle School designed cards asking Harold L. Richards High School students to make rational decisions at prom. Their task was to remind Richards’ students to be responsible and safe, with the hope that hearing this message from their peers would make an impact. Students learned how the three “Mustang Musts”-Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Safe-are not just for school; they are life lessons. Teachers had the opportunity to share with students how the decisions you make as a young-adult follow you into adulthood, and affect other people. The cards will be placed at each table, as one last reminder to students as they begin their prom festivities.
Governors State University The Governors State University Civil Service Senate is hosting the annual spring open market from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 1 in the Hall of Governors at GSU, 1 University Parkway, University Park. More than 30 crafters and vendors will have unique items and gifts just in time for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays or just because. The market is free and open to the public. Interested vendors and crafters are encouraged to participate. Space is limited. For more information or to register, call 235-7559.
Mount Assisi Academy Mount Assisi Academy is hosting a Career, Volunteer, and Job Fair for their students on from 12:30 to 2:20 p.m. Monday, May 5. The school is looking for: • Businesses that need to fill jobs, to host a table, have our students fill out applications, and conduct mini interviews on site. • Organizations who need volunteers to host a table and encourage our students to sign up for volunteer opportunities. • Professionals to come and share their experience in a particular field, answer questions, and schedule shadow days or internships with our students. For more information, call Marina Tadros at 630-257-7844, ext 239, or email
Oak Lawn Community H.S. The registration deadline forOak Lawn Community High School boys’ track team fundraiser, the Spartan Olympics, is Wednesday. The cost is $15 for individuals or $75 per team. Winners receive trophies and medals. For more information, call Head Boy’s Track Coach Chris Kuchyt, head boys’ track coach at 741-5624 in room 372 of the school, or email him at
. Individuals and teams can compete in the events at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 27. Individual applicants will compete in all ten events in order to earn the title of Greatest Male and Female Athlete of Oak Lawn Community High School. Teams of five, headed by a junior or senior captain, may enter to earn the title of Greatest Athletic Group at Oak Lawn Community High School. Events include the long jump; a 1600 meter run, bench press, 100 meter sprint, basketball free throws, tire flip, soccer agility course, football distance toss, 12 inch softball accuracy throw, and an obstacle course. *** Oak Lawn Community High School will host its Relay for Life for the 12th year in a row. Relay for Life is an organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research. This year’s Relay for Life will take place Saturday, May 17. Per Relay tradition, the faculty, staff and students painted the gym purple on Feb. 7 by wearing purple T-shirts during the varsity basketball game. Relay for Life coordinator Thaddeus Zuzga said that OLCHS raised more than $1,500. These funds will be used to cover all of the extracurricular activities at this year’s Relay For Life Event on May 17, 2014. It is not too late to register teams or participants for the event. For more information, call 424-5200.
St. Laurence The Comedy Club of St. Laurence High School, 5556 W. 77th St., Burbank, will be hosting its fifth annual comedy show in the school’s cafeteria at 6:31 p.m. Friday, April 25. The ticket cost at the door is $5. The Comedy Club has been an organized activity at St. Laurence for 14 years. The club strives to mutually entertain its members in various aspects of comedy. One aspect, improvisational humor, will be the primary focus of the night’s activities. To purchase a ticket before the night of the show, or for more information, call Ed Kozak, club moderator, at 458-6900, ext. 244, or email him at
. *** St. Laurence High School and the Office of Alumni Relations will host its annual solemn mass of remembrance, honoring deceased alumni of the school, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 26 in the school’s library, 5556 W. 77th St. (77th Street and Central Avenue), Burbank. Father Norm Trela, from St. Symphorosa Parish, and the school’s chaplain, will celebrate the Mass of the Resurrection. A wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the outdoor memorial, weather permitting. Following the liturgy, snacks and refreshments will be served.
Family, friends, and relatives of deceased alumni of St. Laurence are welcome to attend this liturgy. For more information and reservations, call Ed Kozak in the Office of Alumni Relations at 458-6900, ext. 244.
Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning investigative journalist Bill Kurtis will expose what is behind today’s rising health problems during “Death By Food: How the American Diet is Killing You” at Moraine Valley Community College at 7 p.m. April 28. He will give his presentation in the Dorothy Menker Theater, in the Fine and Performing Arts Center, on campus, 9000 W. College Pkwy, in Palos Hills. Tickets are $25. A meet-and-greet reception in the Moraine Business and Conference Center will immediately follow his talk. The college bookstore will sell copies of Kurtis’ “The Prairie Table Cookbook” at the reception. Kurtis is donating all proceeds from this event to Moraine Valley. During the presentation, Kurtis will lay out his Cold Case File to show the means, motive and opportunity behind why food is over-processed, over-sugared, over-salted, contains too much fat, and is nutrient deplete. He will offer the Healthy Triad as a solution to getting a better food product and nutrients on the tables of American consumers. With more than 40 years in broadcasting in Chicago and Los Angeles, Kurtis has covered some of history’s biggest stories, including breaking the Agent Orange story in 1978. In 1982, he joined Diane Sawyer on “The CBS Morning News,” where he remained until 1985. Chicagoans know him as half of the WBBM-Channel 2 anchor team of Kurtis and Jacobson. In 1990, he founded Kurtis Productions and began producing programs for the A&E Network, including “Investigative Reports” and “Cold Case Files,” as well as “The New Explorers” for PBS, “Investigating History” for the History Channel and “American Greed” for CNBC. Kurtis also served as the host of A&E’s “American Justice”– the longest-running nonfiction justice series on cable. As an active conservationist, he founded the Tallgrass Beef Company out of Kansas City in 2005 to champion the environment and health benefits of grass-fed cattle ranching. Tickets can be purchased online at morainevalley.edu/fpac, by calling 708-974-5500, or at the Box Office located on the south end of the Fine and Performing Arts Center.