Around the Southland: Teacher from Lynwood wins Golden Apple, and more

Lynwood’s Precious Allen wins Golden Apple

Precious Allen, a 2nd grade teacher at Betty Shabazz Academy in Chicago, was presented with a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching during a surprise ceremony Wednesday at her school. She was one of 10 recipients of the award in the state, chosen from more than 600 nominations of pre-K to 3rd grade teachers.

The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching honor outstanding teachers for having lasting, positive effects on students’ lives and school communities, according to a news release from the Golden Apple Foundation. Teacher recipients demonstrate – in their teaching and results – significant, positive impact on their students’ growth and learning.

Allen has “artfully crafted a nurturing and inviting environment, radiating warmth and a profound sense of belonging. Stepping through the door, one immediately senses the caring atmosphere she has cultivated,” Golden Apple officials said in announcing the award. They added she also mentors new teachers and fosters “a positive and inclusive educational environment.”

Each Golden Apple winner receives a $5,000 cash award and a spring sabbatical at Northwestern University. They also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, where they can help prepare the next generation of teachers

Southland College Prep celebrates scholarships

Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park celebrated for the eleventh consecutive year that all members of the senior class have been accepted to college during an assembly last week.

Officials also announced at the “All In” assembly Tuesday the class of 2024 was offered $50 million and counting in scholarships. Among them are valedictorian Knyiema Martin, 18, of Matteson, who was named a Gates Millennium Scholar, the third student to be awarded the prestigious scholarship in the school’s history. Martin is currently deciding between Columbia University, the University of California-Berkeley, Pomona College and Dartmouth College. She plans to major in psychology and become a clinical psychologist.

Eisenhower, Shepard students promote comics classes

Students from Eisenhower High School in Blue Island and Shepard High Schools in Palos Heights discussed the benefits of the inclusion of pop culture in the secondary curriculum during a panel discussion on the significance of graphic novels in English classes last weekend at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo at McCormick Place.

Teachers Steven Wolff and Adam Ebert accompanied Eisenhower students from Graphic Novels classes, Anime Club, and the school’s Literary Magazine. Teacher Taylor Buremeister from Shepard accompanied his Graphic Novels students.

Students served on the panel titled “Ink and Insight: The Student Experience in the Comic Classroom,” and also had a chance to attend other panels and meet creators in the graphic arts.

“The students spoke very well about their experiences with comics and graphic novels in class and what they learned and took away from the class,” Burmeister said.

McCauley students join Mercy Circle project for Pat’s Pantry

Students from the Respect Life and Varsity clubs at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School recently joined Mercy Circle residents in Chicago’s Mt. Greenwood neighborhood to paint colorful suncatchers for families served by Pat’s Pantry. They chose sunflowers, a symbol of optimism and joy, as their theme, according to a news release from Mercy Circle.

The effort was part of the MACs with Mercy program, which offers students and residents an opportunity to build new connections. Each month, McAuley students from a different club visit Mercy Circle to spend time with the residents.

“The residents and students love working together to create positive ways to support others,” says Katie McKirdie, life enrichment coordinator at Mercy Circle. “Spending time with McAuley students has quickly become one of our residents’ favorite activities.”

Oak Lawn police crack down on distracted driving

The Oak Lawn Police Department issued 172 citations for hands-free law violations during a Distracted Driving Awareness Month enforcement campaign.

“Driver distraction is a persistent issue in Oak Lawn that often has life-altering consequences,” police said in a news release. “Issuing a citation is a proven way to get motorists to pay attention or pay the price.”

Oak Lawn joined forces with the Illinois State Police and other agencies for the campaign, which was funded by federal traffic safety funds administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Bridge work begins on 175th Street, Cicero and Kedzie avenues

Repairs to the bridges carrying 175th Street, Cicero Avenue and Kedzie Avenue over Interstate 80 in Hazel Crest and Country Club Hills were scheduled to begin May 1, according to a news release from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Amid the project, 175th Street and Cicero and Kedzie avenues will be reduced to one lane in each direction over the bridges. Motorists should expect various lane shifts on 175th Street, Cicero and Kedzie avenues and occasional overnight lane closures on I-80 approaching each structure.

The $7 million project, which consists of repairing the deck and approaches, replacing expansion joints and installing a new deck overlay on each bridge, is anticipated to be completed in December.

Motorists can expect delays, IDOT said.

Frankfort Bluegrass Fest fundraiser planned

A fundraiser for the 2024 Frankfort Bluegrass Festival is planned from 6 to 10 p.m. May 10 at CD&Me, 23320 South LaGrange Road in Frankfort. The event features performances from The Grateful String Band, Miles Over Mountains and Wheels North, along with raffles, baskets and more. All proceeds from the fundraiser go directly to the annual Frankfort Bluegrass On The Green Festival, a free event July 13-14, 2024 on Breidert Green and Prairie Park in downtown Frankfort.

Tickets to the fundraiser are $40 in advance or $45 at the door, and include food courtesy of the Frankfort Restaurant Association as well as beer tasting tickets. Information is at

Oak Lawn library sets 8th annual Fan Fest

Oak Lawn Public Library’s 8th annual Fan Fest, an all-ages celebration of pop culture, is planned from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 11 at the library, 9427 S. Raymond Ave.

The free event will feature a performance by the Raks Geek Wookiee Bellydancers, cosplay competitions, DIY galaxy jars, miniature painting, an all-day photobooth and an exhibit hall showcasing local artists, vendors, organizations and collectors.

Mark Anderson will lead an Andertoons cartoon drawing class for young artists. Kids can also get airbrush tattoos, participate in a scavenger hunt and take pictures with some familiar faces during the space character meet and greet.

Throughout the day, teens can enjoy tabletop games, along with additional outdoor activities such as morning sessions of the mobile escape room and an afternoon visit from the GameTruck.

More information and a full event schedule is at

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