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March 26, 2019

2/16/2010 2:49:00 PM
Letters to the Editor: Feb. 17

ETHS Handles Even Terrible Events Well


How about some good news?  As a new parent at Evanston Township High School, I have been really impressed with the school administration’s commitment to communication with parents.  It is consistently timely, thoughtful and comprehensive. 

Two very recent examples:  On Friday night, Feb. 5, rumors flew about a disturbing incident of violence – not involving ETHS students, but on ETHS property – after that evening’s basketball game.  The very next morning – a Saturday – I received a letter from Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, through various electronic routes, plainly stating the facts of the incident while explaining the steps ETHS had taken and would be taking to assure our children’s safety. 

Then, on Feb. 8, a computer glitch messed up online registration for summer school classes.  Within just a couple of hours, the school explained the problem (a vendor crash), apologized for it, and made alternative registration opportunities available.

Tragic incidents will happen and mistakes will be made.  But when school authorities are candid and treat the parents of their students as valued customers, it makes a world of difference.

-- Jonathan Baum 

The Educational Value Of Branch Libraries


As an immigrant who came to this country at a very young age, I was not one of those children who gravitated toward baseball fields and soccer and football games. Instead, I spent a very good portion of my childhood growing mentally among the books at my branch library and discovering poetry, horticulture, and the love of all things natural. It is certainly no stretch to say that I would not have been the same person I am today without my local library.

Branch libraries are wonderful for many reasons, but I suppose the main reason why I love them stems from the knowledge you can acquire while merely browsing. Just while walking through the stacks you may come across a subject that you’ve never encountered before, and you’ll find yourself minutes (or hours) later in the same spot looking through the book with curiosity and occasionally in awe.

We need our branch libraries for their power to educate those in our local communities who have the desire to learn already within them, and to provide a foundation of knowledge beyond schools for those who may not yet know that they do. Even in Greater Chicago, the thought of heading to the central library may seem like a monumental task as, in some cases, much of the day may be lost in the act of simply going there and coming back. Such a trek is a disservice to personal education. In our modern culture of convenience, I insist that if anything should be a convenience, it should be access a wealth of education.

In this, I am reminded of the great dream of Andrew Carnegie--an immigrant himself--when he provided grants to construct local libraries throughout America, Britain, and the rest of the world. Libraries, he believed, should be there for all us to be able to better ourselves--no matter our origins. Even in the age of the Internet, local libraries allow those who come from the meanest backgrounds to educate themselves and learn about the world since there’s no need to have the financial means to purchase a computer, subscribe to Internet services, or to acquire any of the necessary peripheral technology.

To my knowledge, we in Evanston have always placed great pride in our commitment to education and diversity, and so much of the foundation from that commitment originated in the education we learned not only from personal interaction, but from ideas and the picture of the greater world that we gained from books. To close our branch library system would not only be a blow to the opportunities of future generations, but an irreparable injury to the legacy we as a city have tried so long to maintain.

-- Keith Tomaszewsky

Goodnight Libraries*

In the great, green storefront on Central Street,
sits the North Branch library all quaint and sweet.

And books with pages
And kids of all ages
And a fountain of knowledge
And plans for college

And summer reading programs
And community meetings
And puppet shows
And neighborhood greetings

And librarians to ask when you’re in a rush
But for six Aldermen whispering hush.

Goodnight, Central Street.
Goodnight, library quaint and sweet.

Goodnight, books with pages.
Goodnight, kids of all ages.
Goodnight, fountain of knowledge.
Goodnight, college.

Goodnight, summer reading programs.
Goodnight, community meetings.
Goodnight, puppet shows.
Goodnight, neighborhood greetings.

Goodnight librarians, to ask when you’re in a rush.
Goodnight, six aldermen whispering “hush.”

And goodnight, to the naysayers who just never knew
the good that has come from books in a lil’ green room.

*a take on Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, a lovely book you can read with your children at the library. Adaptation by me.

--Sarah Price

How About a Monolithic Dome for the New Robert Crown Center?


In the Feb. 3 issue of the Round Table, there’s an editorial “Ice-Cold Facts” that states, “City officials continue to look for ways to replace [Robert Crown Center] with a new, state-of-the-art ice complex and community center.” I’ve skated there many times and am familiar with the building and surrounding park. I’d like to suggest that when this building is replaced, the monolithic dome construction method is used.

No further discussion is necessary. It will be extremely safe, economical, and versatile. Quite a number of similar facilities have already been built as a monolithic dome, and Evanston officials can inquire about them.

There is plenty of room to put a monolithic dome there. If people object to a possibly larger footprint from the dome, the roof can be covered with native soil and prairie grasses and wildflowers instead of an exciting paint job.

Solatube tubular skylights can be installed to provide healthful natural light. One or more of the interior rooms can be build to FEMA 320 “safe room” specifications to provide near-absolute tornado protection for everyone using the building and park. And, the monolithic dome is reported to be very economical to heat and cool. For more information and contact information, go to

I assure you I am not being compensated for urging this construction type.

-- Jean SmilingCoyote


Where the car circular island there

Bisected Davis’ spread thoroughfare

And streetcar arced to pass

Angular bricked street mass

I saw then a Fountain but no Square.

-- Robert Bagby

Washington School Reading Fest a Success


“On Feb. 3, Washington School hosted its tenth annual African Heritage Reading Fest, in conjunction with African History Month.  Community leaders and members from various sectors of Evanston, including Northwestern faculty, Y.O.U. leaders, District 202 staff, City of Evanston fire department and police officers, District 65 parents, administration and School Board members, and even D65’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Hardy Murphy, all came to Washington to be guest readers for the morning. 

Each guest reader selected a favorite African Heritage book to read aloud to Washington students at every classroom level and then shared a bit of information about themselves.  Thanks to all our guest readers, and especially to Washington Librarian Patricia Connolly, for organizing this wonderful event.  Washington parents were encouraged to talk with their students to share their experiences.” 

--Kim Lee and Eric Haab


Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019
Comment by: Mary and Ben Page

Improving the New Parking System. The new, automated Evanston parking system has several advantages, but it also has a serious defect. Fortunately, this could be remedied.

The new system discourages short stops for a drop off, a pickup, or a quick purchase of a tool, a trinket, coffee, or a snack. To use the parking app or the kiosk takes longer than putting a coin into a meter. And the fee is way out of line for (say) a five-minute stop: a minimum time charge plus a 35 cents “convenience fee.” Not convenient.

This makes simple errands less simple. By discouraging customers it is bad for merchants and for Evanston’s economy.

An easy fix would be to allow FREE parking for a very short time (say ten minutes) at any location. This would facilitate quick stops, helping both customers and businesses. It would barely affect revenues, while freeing up parking spaces quickly and restoring a sense of Evanstonian friendliness.

The fix should not be hard to implement. Immediately after the license plate number and (on the app) the parking zone is entered, a “free ten minutes” option could be clicked, completing the transaction. Only for longer stops would it be necessary to specify a payment method and a time interval. Quick and easy.

Surely the city of Evanston and/ or its contractors have the expertise to program in this small step toward efficiency and equity.

Yours truly,
Mary and Ben Page

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