The top scholars from the Class of 2015 at Proviso East High School, Proviso West High School, and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy were honored by the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 Board of Education at its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 9, at PMSA.
Honored were the following graduated seniors and top scholars:
- Ulises Rodriguez, who was named the valedictorian at Proviso East. He will study music or chemistry at Triton College in the school’s Scholars Program.
- Empress Harris, who was named the salutatorian at Proviso East. She will study pharmacology at Triton College in the school’s Scholars Program.
- Breanna Liddell, who was named the valedictorian at Proviso West. She will study education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
- Patricia Vazquez, who was named the salutatorian at Proviso West. She will study engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
- Ebere Agwuncha, who was named the research scholar of distinction at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy. She will major in biomedical engineering at Iowa State University.
- Hailey Caffie, who was named the research scholar of distinction at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy. She will study animal science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Each received a plaque and certificate of appreciation from the Board. The six scholars also will be inducted into the District 209 Academic Hall of Fame.
The Board also heard a report from administration about the progress of the Achieve 3000 literacy program.
Under the program, students can read up to 17,000 non-fiction articles online, each adjusted to the student’s current reading level. Mrs. Kim Echols, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for District 209, said that more students were improving their reading scores through the literacy program. This included 56 students’ lexile scores (the point of measurement in the program) increasing by 114 points, double the expected rate, and 156 students scoring correct answers on at least 75 percent of the questions on multiple-choice activities. She said that this was helped by more than half of the students in the programs practicing their reading not only in class, but also by logging into the computer-based program outside of school.
"This is something the kids wanted to do on their own," Mrs. Echols said. "The more you use it, the better you’re going to be."
Mrs. Echols added that the effects of improved literacy are spread across the curriculum, with students passing more classes because "reading is so fundamental," she said.
The Board also approved an application that will provide free breakfast and lunch for all students in the District.
The application for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) eliminates the need for students to apply for free or reduced-price lunch status if they were eligible earlier. To be eligible, a school must have a minimum of 40 percent of its students come from low-income families. According to the most recent Illinois Report Card for the 2013-14 school year, 55.4 percent of District 209’s students came from low-income families. Mr. Todd Drafall, the chief financial officer for the District, said having the CEP would save the District money by eliminating the paperwork that is required to process the free and reduced-price lunch applications from families.
In addition, the Board and community members also had praise for the Positive Presence program that took place at Proviso East on the last day of school on June 3. In the program, more than 40 community volunteers took positions along students’ routes home from school including along Madison, School, and Warren streets in Maywood to be a "positive presence" and to wish students a safe and happy summer.
"Positive Presence was a success that connected many different people," said Mrs. Theresa Kelly, Board President. "We want the students to know that we care and we are here for them."