Around the Southland: Pickleball project unites peers at Andrew, Black History Month celebrated in song, and more

Andrew students partner for Pickleball Paddle Project

Woodworking students at Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park partnered with students in the school’s Ultima Program for students with specialized learning needs on a Pickleball Paddle Project, an effort that helped build connections between the students and allowing them to teach and learn from each other, according to a news release from District 230.

Students were paired up to create pickleball gear that will be auctioned off to raise funds for future projects.

Woodworking teacher Jeff Cassidy said the project also was a way to invite Ultima students into the woodshop at Andrew.

“I want everyone to have access to it, as well as have my kids be good mentors,” he said. “Seeing them pair up makes me so happy and proud of these kids.”

Schools unite for Black History Month Showcase

Students from six area school districts came together Tuesday to celebrate Black History Month with a showcase of talent at the Performing Arts Center at Governors State University in University Park.

It was the fifth year for the event, which united students from Elementary School District 159, Matteson School District 162, Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163, Rich Township High School District 227 and Southland College Prep Charter High School.

The showcase featured the district choirs, jazz bands and dance performances. Rich Township District 227 Superintendent Johnnie Thomas called the event “a profound expression of our community’s talent, resilience, and heritage.”

“It is events like these that remind us of the strength found in our diversity and the importance of honoring our history, not just during Black History Month but every day,” he said in a news release.

Lunar New Year marked in forest preserves

The Forest Preserves of Cook County hosted a Lunar New Year event Sunday at Little Red Schoolhouse in the Palos Preserves. The event featured activities including calligraphy, dragon scavenger hunts, lion dances, and crafting dragons, rattle drums, and lanterns with help from the Chinese Storytellers of Naperville and the Chinese Neighborhood Parents Association

Another event celebrating the Year of the Dragon is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 17 at Dan Ryan Woods Pavilion, Western Avenue and 87th Street in Chicago. More information is at

Paczki, program on Fr. Tolton at Calumet City Historical Society

The Calumet City Historical Society will meet at 2 p.m. Feb. 11 for its first general membership meeting of the year, which will feature servings of paczki, as well as a program at 3 p.m. program.

The program, Fr. August Tolton, will be presented by The Rev. Joseph Perry, who has led the cause for sainthood for Father Augustus Tolton, deemed Venerable in 2019, the first African-American Catholic priest in the U.S. and Chicago.

The meeting and program are at Calumet City Historical Society Center & Museum, 760 Wentworth Ave. Calumet City. Information is at

Murder mystery night for adults at Midlothian library

Murder in Margaritaland: A Night of Mystery will be presented from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Midlothian Public Library, 14701 S. Kenton Ave.

While vacationing at the Margaritaland resort, one unfortunate guest will meet the end of their travels altogether. The rest of the guests will be left to find the killer. No acting talent is required, but interactive participation according to instructions on a cue card is what creates the fun. Light refreshments and soft drinks are provided but the cocktails are BYOB.

The event is free, but registration is due by February 16. More information is at or 708-535-2027.

Police vest breakfast fundraiser returns

The 10th Annual Get Behind the Vest Pancake Breakfast will be from 8 a.m. to noon Feb. 25 at St. John Fisher School, 10200 S. Washtenaw Ave., Chicago. The event will be preceded Feb. 24 by a “Vest-A-Thon” featuring WGN Radio’s David Hochberg.

Admission to the Pancake Breakfast is $5 per person or $25 for families, which includes all you can eat pancakes and sausage.

The WGN Radio Vest-A-Thon will be aired live on WGN-AM/720 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and will feature stories of officers whose lives have been impacted by bulletproof vests.

Information, volunteer and donation information are at 773.238.8766 or

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