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Evanston Township High School senior Jesse Chatz is calling upon local ETHS alums to give a boost to those still in school. A part of his senior studies project, E-town Opportunities, is an outreach program designed to connect ETHS students with adults in career fields that interest them. A website, www.etownopportunities.org, offers more information about the project and about a networking event at the high school on April 30 for students and alums.

Even though ETHS offers many opportunities for students, “the college and career center and the Youth Job Center don’t appeal to everyone. We don’t want to close any door,” Jesse told the RoundTable. He said an older brother – an ETHS alum – has mentored and advised him throughout his high school career. Many ETHS students do not have that advantage, he said, to talk frequently with someone who has been through the same school, taken many of the same classes and been exposed to the same experiences and philosophy of education. “It will be an instant connection [between the students and the alums]. They were once in [our] shoes. They walked these halls.

“We don’t have a lot of contact with alums; we don’t use our alums,” Jesse said, adding that he has a “list of about 100 ETHS alums who live in Evanston.”

The April 30 networking event will be held from 2:45 to 4:30 p.m. in Room N-112 at the high school. That day is an early dismissal day, so all students will be able to attend.

The event is open to students in all grade levels, Jesse said. He said he hopes the network will be active and productive, giving ETHS students a leg up on summer jobs. The April 30 event is designed “to give kids opportunities for the summer or the next school year.” In the longer view, he said, he hopes the alums will be able to tell students what it will take to follow their chosen career path – what courses and what experiences will be necessary, as an example. Even if an alum cannot offer a job, he or she can offer advice.

High school faculty and administration are backing the project. The District 202 School Board has endorsed it, and Superintendent Dr. Eric Witherspoon “has been so supportive,” Jesse said. Athletic Director Chris Livatino sent an email to his contacts as well, Jesse said.

“It’s time to expand opportunities for ETHS kids. “We’re reaching out to alums and hoping they’ll give back,” Jesse said.

Jesse says he is hoping that the network and mentoring will continue after he graduates. “As of right now, there are no concrete plans for someone to take over. I’m in the process of talking with administrators to find a way to keep the program running for years to come,” he said.

ETHS alumni interested in participating in the career exploration fair may contact Jesse Chatz at jessechatz@gmail.com.