Evanston RoundTable
Evanston lighthouse at night. (Photo credit: Mary Collins)

Good Sunday morning, Evanston.

The first few months back to full in-person schooling at District 65 have been marred by public outcries of dissent and complaints about stress, including two protests by the teachers union at Sept. 27 and Oct. 11 school board meetings, and the last-minute cancellation of school on the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week after the president of the District 65 Educators’ Council encouraged teachers to prioritize their mental health and take sick days.

At the school board’s Dec. 6 Curriculum and Policy Committee meeting, three school board members stressed a need for less public acrimony and more communication between teachers and the administration.

They articulated a need to take care of educators, with school board member Sergio Hernandez announcing that teacher evaluations would be suspended for the current school year.  


Some new programs are surfacing as candidates for American Rescue Plan Act funding as Evanston City Council members begin narrowing their sights on how they plan to allocate federal funds. At a special City Council meeting Dec. 6, city staff presented council members with some proposed uses of the COVID-19 recovery funds.


In case you missed any of the most important news last week, here’s a roundup of the top stories from the RoundTable this past week.

Schools

Haven Middle School on Dec. 11. (Submitted photo)

Shooting threat reported at Haven Middle School deemed not credible by police. On Thursday night, social media messages warned of a potential shooting threat at Haven Middle School on Dec. 10. After an initial investigation conducted by the Evanston Police Department, authorities dismissed the threat as not credible.

Documents detail how ETHS staff cleared coach of wrongdoing after students’ complaints. Documents and emails newly acquired by the RoundTable reveal ETHS students’ specific allegations of inappropriate touching and comments by Color Guard Coach Lorenzo Medrano.

District 65 students show significant declines in achievement on the 2021 Illinois Assessment of Readiness. On the 2021 Illinois Assessment of Readiness, only 35% of District 65’s students met or exceeded standards on the English language arts part of the test, compared with 44% on the 2019 IAR.

Vandal breaks into Puerta Abierta Preschool. On the night of Nov. 29, a vandal broke into Puerta Abierta Preschool, 933 Chicago Ave., shattering windows and scattering papers and equipment through the hallways. 


City News

Interim Police Chief Aretha Barnes announces her retirement from the Evanston Police Department. After more than 25 years of service to the Evanston community, Interim Police Chief Aretha Barnes has announced that she will retire from the Evanston Police Department on Jan. 3.

Evanston Police make arrest in fatal shooting. Evanston Police and the North Regional Major Crimes Task Force have arrested a 19-year-old Chicago man in connection with a fatal shooting Nov. 28 at the Green Bay Road and Foster Street.

Staff FOIA denials would receive city committee review under Reid’s proposal. At the Dec. 6 City Council Rules Committee meeting, council members discussed a referral from their colleague Devon Reid, 8th Ward, proposing that they create a committee to oversee the city’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act as well as the Open Meetings Act.

Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. (Library of Congress photo)

Family’s response as FBI closes Emmett Till case: ‘Even though we don’t feel that we got justice, we still must move forward.’ The FBI told the family of Emmett Till on Dec. 7 that it has not uncovered sufficient evidence to support a federal prosecution of any living person.

Groups decry lack of public input in City Manager hiring process. Representatives of two Evanston grassroots activist organizations raised concerns Dec. 6 about the lack of community input thus far into the hiring of Evanston’s next City Manager.

COVID-19 Update as of Dec. 9:  35 new cases in Evanston, 9,391 in the state. New cases at Northwestern University jump to 113 in the week ending Dec. 9.

Real estate workshop aims to prepare Black Evanstonians for restorative housing grants. Today, the wealth of 46 million Americans can be traced back to the 1862 Homestead Act when primarily white Americans were freely gifted 270 million acres of land by the U.S. government.

Carolyn Murray and Pastor Taurus Scurlock. (RoundTable photo)

Gun buyback program gets 53 guns off the street. The Evanston Police Department partnered with Evanston resident and activist Carolyn Murray and the Evanston Community Foundation to host the city’s 2021 gun buyback event. Fifty-three guns and an assortment of ammunition were turned in.

Evanston’s lead pipes won’t be fully replaced for decades. Here’s what homeowners need to know. Under a mandate passed by the Illinois legislature this summer, the City of Evanston is required to address its lead pipe problem more aggressively.


Art & Life

Holiday shoppers at the open house. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Main-Dempster Mile hosts holiday open house. Residents gathered on the Main-Dempster Mile Thursday evening for the area’s holiday open house. Many businesses had extended hours to welcome holiday shoppers.

At This Time: A new feature exploring the city in photo images. The Evanston RoundTable is introducing a new feature—At This Time. Our idea is to explore Evanston in one photograph a day. 

Fountain Square glitters with new holiday lights. Community members bundled up and headed to Fountain Square Saturday evening, Dec. 5, to join mayor Daniel Biss in lighting the city’s Christmas tree at the city’s annual Holiday Light Celebration.

Egea Spa owners say it will reopen under new ownership. While Egea Spa suddenly closed its doors under the ownership of Chris and Kathy Pappas last week, it is not the end for the business.

Hearty winter greens add fiber and flavor to your meals. Not much grows in cold climates during the winter, but hearty greens last longer than most. 

The Art of Making Art: Bryana Bibbs. Bryana Bibbs is a weaver and creates her pieces using a very wide variety of materials.

Book review | From Evanston to Italy: Longtime educator explores her heritage.

The Cradle announces Jason Friedman will be its new president and CEO.

Dear Gabby: Should I sabotage my daughter’s college app? I believe my daughter is applying to a college (a good college, I’ll admit) based on its proximity to the college her boyfriend goes to.

Last week in photos. Christmas lights! They’re everywhere! Check out these photos take across the city.


Public Square

Nancy E. Anderson: I didn’t want a set of Christmas dishes, or so I thought. In the summer of 2017, my mother sold her house in downstate Bloomington. My father had died two years earlier and she was moving to a smaller place nearby.

Peggy Tarr: Un Amico Davvero. A week or so ago, I scanned the TV guide for something to watch that was non-violent. I saw that a PBS station was broadcasting an Aretha Franklin program.

The Rev. Michael Nabors: Why I support District 65 and Dr. Devon Horton

Letter to the editor: Stop releasing balloons in memory of someone loved.


Sports

Kits work overtime for first CSL South cage victory. Half a dozen different players turned in big plays for ETH’s boys basketball team Friday night in their home opener. That was the good news.

Starks helps ETHS girls ace another road test. There was no doubt who earned the coveted Ace of Spades award for Evanston’s girls basketball team.

ETHS boys basketball: Turnaround starts on defense for Wildkits.


In the United States, 25% of newspapers have ceased operation, and 2,000 community newspapers have closed in the past 15 years. The vacuum created when local journalism declines poses a serious threat to democracy. Our democracy relies on a free press to educate the public.

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Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...