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Evanston Township High School continues to make measurable strides in outcomes for students. Our gains in recent years in student achievement, our historically high ACT results, and our greatly increased number of students taking and succeeding in Advanced Placement courses are just some of the accomplishments we reported last school year. As our teachers and students remain focused on improvement, I look forward to having more achievement data to report in the fall, but I can already share lots of successes as we move into this new school year.

To continuously improve the student experience at ETHS, we have many new and exciting changes for the 2014-15 school year. A new state-of-the-art Student Success Center, called The Hub, brings all our academic study centers for math, science, English/history, and world languages into a central, “one-stop” location. But, that’s not all. The Hub is also the place for the community service program, college and career services, student activities, the homework center, and Wildkit Academy. Plus, important community youth services provided by Y.O.U. and the Youth Job Center are located in The Hub, as well as ample space for tutoring, studying, collaborating on group projects, and holding student meetings.

Other newly remodeled areas include four brand new 21st-century STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) labs, as well as two new math classrooms. Our auditorium has new rigging that makes the space more functional and safe and a new orchestra shell that will improve the sound quality. There are new bleachers in two of our smaller gyms, and a new wellness-center location for employees. Additionally, we have launched a Welcome Center to provide parents, families, and visitors a dedicated place for when they visit ETHS, offering access to general information, specific parent-guardian programs, and important direct services, such as our language-translation services and transition programs for freshmen and new students.

We are working constantly to boost communications at ETHS. In August, families received the new Back-to-School Information Guide that consolidates valuable information into one easy-to-use booklet that can serve as a reference guide throughout the school year. We have added a terrific new mobile app that we encourage everyone to download onto their smartphones so you can stay connected to ETHS. We have made many improvements on our website and have added even more information. Plus, there will be new digital menu boards in all of the cafeterias to provide students with menu options and nutrition information.

There are also many programming improvements for students. All freshmen have received new Chromebook laptop computers to increase individualized teacher assistance and feedback, and increase their direct access to online resources at school and at home. This summer we increased our internet bandwidth and added a hundred more wireless access points to assure fast internet access throughout this large school. Since reading is the gateway to learning, we are increasing our emphasis on increasing reading comprehension skills for all students, and teachers are being trained on how to incorporate literacy skills into all academic disciplines. You will be hearing more about “disciplinary literacy” in the coming year and the STAR reading assessment for all students that will make possible increased differentiation and targeted reading strategies for each student.

We also have several new courses: AP Government, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, and an additional pre-engineering course in Software Engineering. Plus, coming this year, we will be implementing Individualized Career and Academic Plans for each student at all grade levels, recognizing that each student needs to graduate, be college and career ready, and have a postsecondary plan.

At ETHS, we recognize that this great school—with a rich tradition of excellence—can and must keep moving forward. Our commitment to continuous improvement in achieving equity and excellence for all students is embedded in all our work and never stops. Even as this school year is being launched, we are already looking ahead by expanding our induction program for new teachers so it will span three years with a well-designed professional-development curriculum; we’re taking steps to meet the necessary requirements so our culinary program will offer an approved industry certification in the future; we’re also working closely with our ETHS Educational Foundation and planning for a new advanced manufacturing lab in another year, as well as striving to do a complete upgrade to our planetarium so it will be digital in the future.

Yes, we are focused on continuous improvement at ETHS, and there is a lot that is new for this school year. Most important, we are getting results: we’re making measurable strides in student outcomes, and all students are benefitting.