Supt. search underway in Dist. 127.5

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Board members in Chicago Ridge School District 127.5 are in the initial stages of a search for the district’s next superintendent.

  Board members spent Saturday interviewing seven candidates for the position, said board president Greg Hillman. Twenty five individuals applied for the position.
  Supt. Joyce Kleinaitis is retiring at the end of the school year after eight years in the position. Her base salary for 2013-14 is $161,902.
  Kleinaitis said she is leaving to teach graduate education classes. Specifically, she will teach school law, which prepares teachers to become administrators, she said.
  Kleinaitis is 43-year veteran of education, having worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent before coming to District 127.5
  The board was expected to discuss the initial interviews at its Tuesday meeting, Hillman said.
  Board members could decide to meet with additional candidates or grant second interviews to some of those interviewed Saturday, he said.
  “We have to sit down and review,” Hillman said Monday. “We are going to discuss what our next options are.”
  The finalists for the position will be brought in for an additional round of interviews and meet with faculty, staff and members of the community, Kleinaitis said.
  She said the board hopes to choose her successor within the next few months.
  The seven candidates all are from Illinois. Each responded to a posting the district placed with the Illinois Association of School Boards. The district did not hire a search firm to select or screen candidates.
  The services of a search firm could cost the district at least $15,000 plus expenses, Kleinaitis said.
  Hillman would not discuss the qualities the board is seeking in the next superintendent.
  “The intent is to find the most qualified candidate that we can,” he said.
  Kleinaitis said, however, that her successor’s key challenges will be to maintain programming and develop a relationship with the community.
  District 127.5 serves approximately 1,500 students in Chicago Ridge and a small portion of Oak Lawn. Students attend Finley Junior High and Ridge Central and Ridge Lawn elementary schools.

Look what she got on sale

  • Written by Claudia Parker



Richards librarian draws from her FRONT-COLOR-2-col-Bryant1Richards Librarian Ann Marie Bryant shows off her new book that she recently published on how to save money. Photo by Jeff Vorva.painful past to help others save $$

Richards High School librarian Ann Marie Bryant has gone from shelving books to authoring them.


  Well…she still shelves them once in a while. But she has released two books, including one that hit the market recently.
  In her new book, “Look What I Got on Sale: A Guide to Shopping and Online Saving,” Bryant references an uncomfortable past to facilitate others in a purposeful future.
  Bryant says the inspiration to write came two years ago.
  “The economy was bad. Many people were losing their homes,” she said. “Marriages were struggling. There was negativity all around me. I’d dealt with a lot of the same obstacles in my past but I had overcome them. I thought it would be helpful to show people how I came out of the places they were in, so I wrote about it.’’
  Living life passionately became her main objective because it could have been cut short. During a visit to the obstetrician in 1994, the doctor noticed a large lump on her neck. That recognition led to the discovery of thyroid cancer.
  “I had two small kids at the time,” she said. “This cancer caused me to undergo radioactive iodine treatment.”
  Radioactive iodine, given in a liquid form, is absorbed and concentrated by the thyroid gland. The treatment destroys thyroid tissue but does not harm other tissue in the body.
  “It was a very difficult time for me as a mother,” she said. “It forced me to be away from my kids. My doctor said until I was no more radioactive than a UPS package, I couldn’t be near them.’’
  Radioactive iodine is released from the body through urine. The length of the process depends on the dose received and the age of the recipient. To avoid exposing family and other people to her radioactivity, Bryant had to follow her doctor’s instructions carefully, staying away from the kids and avoiding all close contact such as kissing, sharing cups, dishes, or utensils with adults. Health problems weren’t the only thing that burdened her life.
  Hard times had taken Bryant from wearing $200 designer shoes to public aid. She utilized the welfare system and other community agencies for the underprivileged saying:
  “My rock bottom was the day I purchased a sofa at an auction for a dollar.”
  Poverty wasn’t something Bryant was accustomed to.
  “I grew up in a comfortable, upper-middle class home,” she said.
  Bryant, who lives in Valparaiso, Ind., felt furthering her education would provide an exit to the maze her life was in. She went back to school and obtained two master’s degrees which has kept her employed over the last 13 years at Richards.
  Today, Bryant can still be found in the Learning Resource Center at Richards. It was her expertise as a veteran librarian that led to the ease of writing and publishing her books. Yet, the library isn’t the only place Bryant can be checked out.
  Visit her website for information on her book and her speaking schedule. Bryant offers workshops from both of her books.

  “The ‘Releasing Your Story’ workshop will take you through a journey of self-exploration in which you examine your past and identify acquired beliefs that have been toxic,’’ she said. “Once revealed, I walk you through steps that help you take action to fulfill your dream. ‘The Look What I Got on Sale’ workshop is autobiographical. What happens when someone with expensive tastes goes on welfare? They still have expensive taste, but can no longer afford what they want. Through my school-of-hard-knocks education, I have developed a workshop around my ultimate shopping guide proven to save you money online and in stores.”
  Bryant realizes that everyone may not have the opportunity to read her books or attend her workshops, but she urges those who are discontent to discover their passion and take action.
  “No one should sell themselves short!” she said.


Friends and family to host benefit for injured firefighter

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Michael “Sully” Sullivan has responded to many fires during a 17-year career with the North Palos Fire Protection District, but an Oct. 6 house fire in Palos Park left him with serious injuries that may threaten his future as a firefighter.
  At one point during the ordeal, he was trapped under approximately 5,300 pounds of the plaster and cement.
  Sullivan’s surgeries and medical treatment will place a financial strain on his family. To help relieve that stress, friends and family will hold a benefit, from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday at Krapil’s Steakhouse and Patio, 6600 W. 111th St. in Worth.
  The event will feature a buffet, beverages, entertainment, raffles, split the pot and silent auctions, including sports memorabilia. Tickets are $40 and $50 at the door.
  The situation on Oct. 6 was dire.
  Firefighters from several departments responded to a fully involved attic fire with reports of elderly residents still in the house. It was later learned that no one was in the house at the time of the fire.
  Sullivan, 44, and his colleagues entered the living room of the house and prepared to pull the ceiling to expose the fire. Minutes later, however, a large section of the ceiling, which was which was constructed of approximately two inches of plaster and cement, landed on top of the crew.
  Several firefighters were able to escape out the front door, while two others exited through a window in another room. Sullivan and another firefighter remained trapped. The other firefighter, who was unconscious, was pulled out the house by fellow firefighters. Sullivan, meanwhile, was trapped under approximately 5,300 pounds of the plaster and cement.
  Sullivan, an Evergreen Park resident, had to make the call that every firefighter dreads to hear much less having to make — a “mayday” call. He couldn’t move, and firefighters needed several minutes to extricate Sullivan and remove him from the building.

  Three firefighters were hospitalized as a result of the fire. Two returned to work a few weeks later after recovering from their injuries. Sullivan was not as fortunate. He suffered serious injuries to both knees and a shoulder injury, all which require surgery.

  Colleagues describe Sullivan as a great friend and coworker who’s always willing to help someone professionally and personally. Now Sullivan’s friends and coworkers want to return the favor.
  A laid-off union plumber, Sullivan was working as a part-time firefighter. He faces a long road to recovery. So far, he’s undergone a surgery on one of his knees and will have at least two more surgeries in the next few months, which will be followed by extensive rehabilitation. He doesn’t know if he’ll recover sufficiently to return to the job he loves.
  To donate a raffle or auction prize, contact Rick Cronin at 708-525-3890 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Monetary donations can be made to the Michael Sullivan Benefit at any Private Bank location or mailed to Supporting Sully, 10629 S. Roberts Road, Palos Hills, IL 60465.

New Oak Lawn bakery is Simply Sweet

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 What started as a home-based2-col-bakery-3Adriana Aranda stands next to a case featuring a wide selection of cupcakes at Simply Sweet Creations, 5712 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn. Photo by Bob Rakow. business is flourishing in Oak Lawn as a specialty bakery.
  Adriana Aranda recently opened Simply Sweet Creations, 5712 W. 95th St., after spending two years baking cakes, cupcakes and other delectable bakery items in the kitchen of her Hickory Hills home.
  Making the jump from working out of her home to operating a full-time business wasn’t easy but she said she has no regrets.
  “There’s never a right time to do it. “I’ve got this creative side and I’ve always wanted to unleash that,” said Aranda, who has a career in the financial industry.
  Aranda looked at several locations for her business, which opened in September, and she’s pleased with the 95th Street site
  “I underestimated the walk-in traffic on 95th Street,” she said. “Everybody loves cupcakes. It’s kind of gets people in the door.”
  The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, but Aranda plans to expand to full-time hours soon, she said.
  “Business has been great,” Aranda said.
  The bakery specializes in a wide variety of cupcakes, cake pops, cookies and cakes for all occasions, including birthday parties, religious events and weddings.
  But Aranda’s shop offers more than sweet treats. Bakery connoisseurs can take cake and cupcake decorating classes, which are designed for both and children and adults.
  Aranda is getting her business off the ground with the help of friends and family. Her sister, Claudia, and friend, Carmen, often can be found in the kitchen working on specialty cakes or other creations.
  “It’s kind of been a team effort,” she said. “No one has more passion than your family.”
  To place an order and inquire about classes, call 773-492-8151 or visit The bakery also has a Facebook page.

‘Believe’ it - New Oak Lawn Park District holiday play will be entertaining

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  “Believe In Your Elf,” a humorous andHEILMAN PICFrankie Zabilka plays Eddy The Elf In the Oak Lawn Park District Theatre’s production of “Believe In Your Elf” alongside Natalie Heilmann, daughter of Dave Heilmann, who wrote the play. Submitted photo. heartwarming Christmas musical performed by the Oak Lawn Park District Theatre, runs for six performances Dec. 12 through Dec. 15.
  The story, which was written by former Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann, is set in the hectic few days before Christmas. As the hysterical elves and tap- dancing reindeer rush to be ready for Santa’s Christmas Eve flight, the stories of three families who each have their struggles heading into Christmas are told.
  The stories feature a little girl whose father is off to war, and her only wish is to see her daddy on Christmas. Santa does his best but needs the magic of one little elf named Eddy, who leaves the shelf” and teaches us that there are no bounds to what we can give if we follow our hearts and just believe.
  Songs include a new version of “Jingle Bells,” “Eddy got run over by a Reindeer,” “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “All I Want for Christmas is You,” “Sleigh Ride Together With You,” “Believe,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and the tearjerker “Bring Him Home Santa
  The large cast of adults, teens and children come together for a show for that will make audiences laugh, cry and walk out filled with Christmas spirit.
  “Believe in Your Elf” will run at the Oak View Center, 4625 W. 110th St., at 8 p.m. on Dec. 12, 13, 14 and 15. 8 p.m. Matinee performances will be held at 3 p.m. on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15. Tickets are $21 for adults and seniors and $17 for children, 12 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 708-857-2200.