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The Evanston Township High School Board heard a report Sept. 9 on the school’s afterschool activities, as well as details of a plan that granted sponsorship rights to both NorthShore University HealthSystem and Country Financial for many of the school’s athletic events.
Athletic Director Chris Livatino and Student Activities Director Pam MacPherson both emphasized that student participation in extracurricular activities had increased significantly over the course of the previous year.
“Our participation numbers for athletics were way up – we’ve increased participation by 11 percent,” Mr. Livatino said, adding that he was particularly pleased to see a significant increase in participation from female students. “We invested a lot of time and energy in that, and it was nice to see the fruits of our labor pay off.”
Mr. Livatino added that 100 percent of the sports teams achieved an average team GPA of 3.0 or higher.
“This is something to be extremely proud of,” he said. “When you hire people who put academics first, this is the kind of success you have.” He added that almost 90 percent of individuals on teams had GPAs of 3.0 or higher.
Board member Pat Savage-Williams commended the numbers and asked what coaches might be doing to help motivate the students.
Mr. Livatino said weekly grade reports are run for coaches, and students with less than a C- average are flagged. But beyond that, he said, coaches often try to engage team members in conversations about school. “They are trying to make those personal connections about school more so than about sports.”
Of the 3,155 students at E.T.H.S., about 2,540 were involved in extracurricular activities, Ms. MacPherson said. She also said the number of participants might actually be higher, since they had been unable to disaggregate students who were involved in more than one activity; those students were thus counted more than once.
Ms. MacPherson added that the number of African American and Hispanic participants had increased but said they are still working on means by which to increase their participation even more.
Three new clubs – KITS (Keeping it Together Sisters), Girls of Glam, and G.I.R.L.S. (Girls in Real Life Situations) – were also started last year as a result of student polls. “We went around and surveyed students in the lunchrooms and asked what kind of programs they’d want to get involved with if they were not involved,” said Ms. MacPherson.
Corporate sponsorships dipped last year, which was why Mr. Livatino said he was pleased with the agreements with NSUHS and Country Financial.
The proposed sponsorship for NorthShore University HealthSystem is costing the hospital about $17,000. In a two-year sponsorship agreement, NSUSH would be designated the official and exclusive healthcare partner of E.T.H.S. Athletics.
Each entity would allow the other to use their logos and marks within their established guidelines. During football season, NSUHS would get prominent signage at Lazier Field and make several promotional announcements. Additionally, they would be presenting sponsor of the Oct. 11 game against Waukegan, and would have a number of promotional opportunities, including advertisements and/or coupons on game tickets and providing a representative from the Chicago Bears.
NSUHS would receive prominent signage and be able to make promotional announcements during basketball season; they would be the presenting sponsor of the Dec. 12 games against New Trier. The hospital system would also be prominently advertised in Burton Aquatic Center and the baseball park and become title sponsor of a scholarship for male and female Effort Award winners. Lastly, NSUHS physicians would participate in wellness and/or injury prevention workshops at the school.
Country Financial is also a proposed sponsor. In a deal worth about $5,000, the insurance company would receive signage, promotional announcements, entitlement rights to a halftime program and the right to staff a sponsor booth during five home games.
Board member Jonathan Baum praised the sponsorships. “We’re getting money, and they’re getting advertising,” he said. But he also expressed concern about making sure that any appropriate business that wanted to sponsor an ETHS activity could do so, and wanted to guard against the appearance of any business having an inside track with the school. Mr. Baum asked Mr. Livatino how sponsors usually came to be affiliated with ETHS.
“A lot of the time people just contact us,” Mr. Livatino said, adding that he rarely had the time to function in a development capacity.
Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said that he would reach out to the Chamber of Commerce to let them know about the availability of sponsorships. “It’s important that they know what it is we have to offer,” he said.