Around the Southland: Pies to the face for Richards ‘winners,’ Southland dancers get state nod, and more

Richards ‘winners’ get pies to face for charity

Some brave souls from Richards High School in Oak Lawn faced down their fears recently to take one for a great team, according to a news release from School District 218. With hordes of students cheering, the winners of the school’s pie-in-the-face competition grimaced and smiled as Rotary Interact Club members plastered them with pastry.

The annual fundraiser generated $600 for Ronald McDonald House, which provides free lodging and meals for families of pediatric patients adjacent to Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn.

“We truly appreciate your efforts on our behalf. I can’t believe how much money you raised,” said Caitlin Nelson, a Ronald McDonald House manager, told the Rotary Interact Club students.

Sponsored by math teacher Steve Haddad, the club operates as a service organization and is an affiliate of the Rotary Club of Oak Lawn.

Dancers from Southland Prep perform at state event

An original choreographic piece created by dancers in Southland College Prep Charter High School’s Dance Program was selected by the Illinois High School Dance Festival to appear in the Illinois High School Dance State Showcase April 5 in Barrington. The team from Southland was one of 14 that performed at the showcase.

The dance selected, “All For Us,” is a contemporary dance, choreographed by students Sofia Sciacca and Deborah Kpogo, with collaborative efforts from the entire cast of dancers: LeiLani Barnes, Keylen Chatman, Aniyah Henderson, Diamond Lee, Binah McClerklin, Al Rainer, Jacob Southall and Zoe Taylor. The dance was inspired by the dancers’ own personal experiences, and “is about showing unity and mutual support for one another while coping with social and emotional challenges,” according to Gloria L. Chatman, coordinator of dance at Southland. Ricky Davis, is associate dance instructor.

Frankfort names winner in street sweeper contest

After receiving more than 100 submissions in its recent Street Sweeper Naming Contest, officials chose the winning name for its new public works equipment: Frank the Tank, submitted by Ben McGinn.

The winning name was selected for its creativity and relevance, according to a news release from the village.

“This name not only represents the fundamental role of the street sweeper in keeping Frankfort clean but also signifies the advanced technology of the equipment,” the release stated.

Frankfort Mayor Keith Ogle said the name “perfectly captures the essence of our street sweeping efforts.”

St. Agnes students raise funds for Olympia Fields diaper pantry

Students at St. Agnes School in Chicago Heights raised $1,650 during their Lenten service project to purchase diapers for Franciscan Health Olympia Fields’ diaper pantry for new moms in need.

The project, called For the Sake of New Life, spanned two weeks during Lent. Students filled baby bottle banks with money they earned by giving up screen time, helping with chores or forgoing a favorite snack food.

The Franciscan Health Family Birth Center Olympia Fields will use the donation to purchase diapers for the diaper pantry for new mothers who need an adequate supply after leaving the hospital. More information about the diaper pantry is at or 708-852-2430.

Oak Lawn journalists heading to state

The Oak Lawn Community High School journalism team won its fourth consecutive IHSA Sectional title April 6 and qualified for state finals in 15 events, beating competition from a large area including Walter Payton Prep, Evanston, Argo, Reavis, York, and Oak Park River Forest high schools.

The Oak Lawn team will be one of the larger groups heading to Bloomington for the state competition April 26, according to journalism coach Pat DiFilippo.

The team is led by seniors Grace Tynski, a state qualifier in Feature Writing and in Review Writing, and Sierra Knutsen, state qualifier in Yearbook Caption Writing. They will be joined by Annabel Davison (Editorial Writing), Allie Gabriel (Sports Writing), Mia Reyes and Staci Sandquist (Yearbook Theme Development), Heather Sterling (Advertisement), Rawan Ali (Photo Story Telling), and Camilia Ramirez (Yearbook Copy).

Other Oak Lawn journalism qualifiers were Yumn Elameer (Infographics), Omar Tellez (Newspaper Design), Omar Ali (Radio Broadcast), Adan Dominguez (Headline Writing), Rizan Ali (Yearbook Layout), and the trio of Gabriel Gaidelis, Victoria Hartin, and Oluwasemilogo Oyekunie (Video News Broadcast).

Heather Sterling, Adan Dominguez, Rawan Ali, Camilia Ramirez, Omar Ali, Gabe Gaidelis and Oluwasemilogo Oyekunie made their debut performance memorable by earning a trip to state.

“We have some tested journalists on the team, and we incorporated some new talented students into the mix,” DiFilippo said. “I think this blend will be the winning formula on April 26th.”

Fourth Annual Kristin Arielle Oliver Blood Drive set

The fourth annual Kristin Arielle Oliver Memorial Foundation Blood Drive will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. April 27 at Sgt. Means Park, 20712 Western Ave., Olympia Fields.

The Oliver Family, longtime residents of Olympia Fields, established the Kristin Arielle Oliver Memorial Foundation in honor of their daughter who died of a rare heart cancer. During her illness, Kristin required blood transfusions. In Kristin’s honor, the family hopes to save lives through an annual blood drive.

Versiti Blood Centers will be collecting blood from donors. Donors are encouraged to schedule appointments in advance by calling 1-800-7TO-GIVE. Donations for The Center for Food Equity, an organization that provides healthy food for cancer and other patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as sickle cell disease, will be collected.

Road construction season underway on Torrence, LaGrange Road

Traffic is getting tighter on Torrence Avenue in Calumet City and Lansing and on LaGrange Road in Willow Springs and Justice, according to news releases from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

A patching and resurfacing began last week along Torrence Avenue, from Harding Avenue, in Calumet City, to 173rd Street, in Lansing, requiring intermittent daytime and occasional overnight lane closures. The $3.4 million project, which consists of resurfacing the 3-mile stretch of Torrence Avenue and constructing new ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps, is anticipated to be completed in December. Access to residences and businesses within the work zone will be maintained throughout construction, IDOT said.

The LaGrange Road lane closures are expected to begin April 29, as part of a project to replace the elevated ramp from southbound LaGrange Road (U.S. 12/20/45) to north Archer Avenue/Illinois 171/79th Street, in Willow Springs and Justice.

To complete the work, northbound LaGrange Road will be reduced to one lane from 87th Street through Interstate 294 (Tri-State Tollway) overpass. Southbound LaGrange Road prior to the tollway overpass will be reduced to two lanes and the ramp to inbound Archer Avenue will be closed until the project is completed. The $7.7 million project is anticipated to be completed in November.

The public can expect delays, IDOT said.

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