Last school year, Evanston Township High School had a remarkable year. We were named a Gold Medal school by U.S. News & World Report, outpacing other fine high schools in the area; we were ranked among the top 2-3% of most-competitive high schools in America by The Washington Post; and we won the most prestigious awards schools can earn for our budget and finance practices.

Academically, we posted the second highest composite ACT results in ETHS history, surpassed only by the previous year’s scores. Our Advanced Placement enrollment was higher and more representative of our racial demographics than ever before. In fact, over 70% of the Class of 2015 set a school record by taking one or more AP classes. ETHS was even featured in national publications and on the PBS NewsHour due to our notable strides in student achievement and equity.

And this is only a sampling. The list of accomplishments and recognitions at ETHS goes on and on.

Our System of Supports for students is extensive, and the addition of our Student Success Center (The Hub) last year makes it even easier for students to enjoy their own space while taking advantage of the abundant support we provide for them. Discipline problems and suspensions have measurably declined. Last year’s dropout rate was the lowest on record. School spirit is strong, and student involvement in athletics and extracurricular activities is surging.

Yet, the 2015-16 school year promises to be even better because we are constantly investing in our students’ future, examining our data, identifying our students’ needs and challenges, reviewing our curriculum and programs, and crafting strategic improvements. We place the highest value on achieving the best outcomes for each and every student.

For 2015-16 we have planned year-long research-based teacher training programs to enhance and support best instructional practices in our classrooms. Leadership is distributed throughout our school, and adults at ETHS value student voice.  Our District Equity Leadership Team, our Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR), and our students engaged in Access and Success in Advanced Placement (Team ASAP) are examples of the shared leadership at ETHS addressing the high value we place on equity and excellence.

When students and staff begin the new school year, there will also be many visible improvements:

• The new logo and school seal unveiled last May contributing to the new look at ETHS,

• A completely new and improved ETHS website, easier to navigate, and packed with more content,

• A new VoIP business phone system for better internal and external communication and safety,

• A state-of-the-art digital planetarium with high definition and sound features similar to an IMAX theater experience, funded by the ETHS Educational Foundation and a generous donation from Leonard Schaeffer (’63),

• A state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing lab,

• Remodeled front and rear entrances to enhance safety and be more welcoming,

• New lighted tennis courts on Lake Street with new seating for spectators; plus, adjacent restrooms with outdoor access for fans at our baseball field and track, as well,

• A designated staging site for Geometry in Construction, now that our students are building a house each year that provides affordable housing in Evanston,

• An innovative STEM classroom for Algebra in Entrepreneurship,

• Additional parking adjacent to Lazier Field,

• An orchard with apple and pear trees surrounding the football stadium parking area,

• Expansion of 1:1 Chromebook computing to include all freshmen and sophomores with increased wireless access throughout ETHS,

• Upgrades and improvements for the bicycle facility, and a city-school partnership to extend the bike path to our Church Street entrance for safer student access to our bike racks,

• A new Information Technology Internship classroom,

• And many other possibly less visible maintenance improvements vital to protecting our community’s investment in this fine school from tuck pointing to roofing to additional energy efficient lighting to HVAC replacements, and much more.

Evanston Township High School has a proud and rich 132-year history. Many changes have taken place in the world over the generations.  Many changes have taken place at ETHS. Our student demographics and student needs have changed. What hasn’t changed is the importance of an education, ensuring that each student attending ETHS takes rigorous classes, is challenged, is supported, and graduates from this extraordinary school with a top-flight education.

Our commitment is to enhance the qualities that have made ETHS an exceptional school, make the necessary changes to meet the needs of today’s students, provide 21st-century learning opportunities, have high expectations for ourselves and for our students, provide the support they need to succeed, and recognize that to achieve equity and excellence for each student we must be focused and constantly improving.

We’ve heard the adage, “If you’re not getting better, then you’re getting worse.” We take that to heart at ETHS, and we are working hard to make sure we are, indeed, getting better.