Around the Southland: Students assemble Easter baskets, scholarships awarded, CAD success and more

Queen of Martyrs students assemble Easter packs

For the sixth year, generations united to spread hope and the spirit of the Easter holiday with homeless youngsters and teens in families experiencing homelessness. A crew of seventh graders from Queen of Martyrs Catholic School in Evergreen Park joined residents of Mercy Circle to fill colorful backpacks with toys and books, journals, pens, personal gifts and candy, along with toothpaste and toothbrushes donated by Perfect Smiles — Beverly.

The backpacks were distributed to 45 young people who are living with their families at two shelters operated by Margaret’s Village. The goal of the effort was to show the children they are not alone and that others care about them, according to a news release from Mercy Circle.

Educator partnership leads to college scholarships

A group of 88 students received college scholarships thanks to a partnership of Chicago area school superintendents, the United Negro College Fund and Tougaloo College, a historically black college in Mississippi.

The Superintendents’ Commission for the Study of Diversity and Demographics, the United Negro College Fund and Tougaloo College awarded high school seniors a total of $102,000 in scholarships to enroll in schools of their choice during a March 21 banquet at the Tinley Park Convention Center.

In addition, 10 students from Bloom Township, Southland College Prep, Rich Township and Hillcrest high schools received full-ride scholarships to attend Tougaloo from the college’s provost, Josiah J. Sampson III.

“Seeing these scholarships being awarded is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our students, as well as the commitment of our community to support their educational dreams,” said Johnnie Thomas, president of the Superintendents’ Commission and superintendent of Rich Township High School District 227. “It’s a proud moment for all of us.”

Sandburg CAD students sketch up success

Students studying computer aided design and engineering at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park took home a record number awards after competing in the Illinois Design Educators Association CAD Regional Competition as well as the Moraine Valley Technology Challenge.

Students competed in their areas of expertise by completing hands-on skill based problems that were judged by Moraine Valley instructors, according to a news release from District 230. First place winners at the IDEA contest were Logan Zerfass, Nathan Fuentebella, Monica Jagodka, Patrick Bigos and Jacob Sexton.

At the MVCC Tech Challenge, Monica Jagodka and Patrick Bigos won first place awards, Sai Caliskan won a second place and Islam Alzamareeh won a third place award.

Earth Day event, raffle set at Thorn Creek Nature Center

Thorn Creek Nature Center is celebrating Earth Day with a raffle of baskets created by Friends of Thorn Creek, which feature birds, foods, kids and more. Two artworks also are included this year. Raffle tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5 at the Nature Center, 247 Monee Road, Park Forest, from noon to 4 p.m. Fridays. The raffle drawing will be April 21 and winners need not be present. The raffle proceeds support the Nature Center.

The nature center’s Earth Day event celebrates the Year of the Cicada, from 1 to 3 p.m. April 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. and offers a chance to learn about this cryptic insect that spends 17 years of its life underground. Find out about the natural history of cicadas and the impact of their eruption this spring. The program includes recordings of Cicadas, crafts and games, cicada slide show, raffle and refreshment.

More information is at 708-747-6320, emailing or at

111th Street bridge over the Bishop Ford to close

A project to repair the bridge carrying 111th Street over the Bishop Ford Freeway in Chicago is scheduled to begin April 1, IDOT officials said in a news release. To complete the work, a full closure of 111th Street at the bridge will be required, they said. The inbound Bishop Ford ramp to westbound 111th Street will also be closed and drivers should use the 103rd Street ramp to access 111th Street. Additionally, the public should also expect shoulder and occasional overnight lane closures on the Bishop Ford at the bridge during that time.

The $ 2.8 million project, which involves repairing the deck and expansion joints, installing a new bridge deck overlay and approaches and painting the bridge, is anticipated to be completed in late fall. Motorists can expect delays, IDOT said.

Sierra Club spotlights National Tallgrass Prairie

Sierra Club’s Sauk-Calumet Group will present “Midewin — The Wilderness Next Door” at 7:15 p.m. April 8 at a hybrid meeting offered online on the Zoom online platform and in-person at the Frankfort Public Library, 21119 Pfeiffer Road.

The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is the first designated national tallgrass prairie in the United States and has restored prairies, rare grassland birds, like the bobolink and the dickcissel, and a herd of American bison. The program will offer a chance to learn more about this 19,000+ acre prairie restoration and natural area and get tips about the best trails and sights and recommendations for hiking, biking and more.

The meeting is free and open to everyone. Information is at or with Patrick Coffey at

Ridge Run among Memorial Day activities in Beverly

The Beverly Area Planning Association invites runners of all ages, paces and distances to lace up their shoes and participate in the 46th Ridge Run on Memorial Day, May 27. Runners can compete to place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in their age groups ranging from 6 to 80+ years.

The Ridge Run takes participants through the Ridge Historic District for the 10K run, 5K run or walk, Run Challenge, and Youth Mile. Spectators line the streets, offering encouragement, water and energy to the runners. Races start and finish at Ridge Park, 9625 S. Longwood Dr.

A Memorial Day Ceremony honoring the men and women in the U.S. armed forces who have given their lives in service to our country will be held at 9 a.m. at Ridge Park. The Beverly Hills/Morgan Park Memorial Day Parade will be led this year by Grand Marshal National Women Veterans United. The parade steps off at 10 a.m. from 110th Place and travels north down Longwood Drive to join the Ridge Run post-race festival at Ridge Park. Spectators and participants are invited to enjoy food, beverages, and information from event sponsors.

Ridge Run registration continues until race day at In-person registration and packet pick-up starts is May 23 to 25 at Running Excels, 10328 S. Western Ave. Ridge Park will host registration on Sun., May 26, from 12 to 4 p.m., and race day registration Mon., May 27 begins at 6:30 a.m.

Volunteers are sought for the events, with a variety of dates and jobs available. Information is at or 773-233-3100.

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