Evanston RoundTable

Good Thursday morning, Evanston!

Yesterday was the first day of school for 6,300 children attending District 65’s 18 schools. Above, sisters Sophia (left) and Eliana Voisin head up Wesley Avenue, wearing new shoes for their first day at Dewey Elementary School. Sophia is starting fourth grade and Eliana is a kindergartner at Dewey. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

First Day of School 2022-2023
Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

Over at Chute Middle School, new sixth grader Griffin Robert Sferruzza told RoundTable reporter Debbie-Marie Brown he was “excited” for the new school year. He confidently said he was looking forward to “the independence, and getting to manage my homework for each class.” High spirits and youthful energy (plus proud and happy parents) were the order of the day.

As the school year ramps up, a reminder for drivers to stop for school bus signs and watch out for students walking throughout the city. Now, on to more news.

Credit: Richard Cahan

Just a day after Evanston/Skokie School District 65 opened the year for all teachers and staff with a first-day convocation, Superintendent Devon Horton sent an all-staff email apologizing for the invocation by Minister Spencer Nabors (pictured above after delivering her remarks). Minister Nabors had stepped in when her father, the Rev. Michael Nabors, had a travel snafu. Horton wrote, “We had no intention of offering official prayer calling for the presence of a deity” in his email to staff on Tuesday. The RoundTable also contacted constitutional scholars for their views on whether including prayer at an event for teachers raises legal issues.

Credit: Pixabay

On the higher education front, President Joseph Biden announced his long-awaited student loan forgiveness program. All told, it is possible some people could be forgiven up to $20,000 if they qualify. But the effort won’t solve the racial disparities in college debt, the RoundTable’s Duncan Agnew writes in his essay.

COVID-19 by the numbers: Seven new cases and zero new deaths were reported Tuesday, Aug. 23, the last day the city updated totals. The seven-day average is 7.7 cases per day.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable website

Credit: Monica Fox

Najiah Osborne: Gardening for the community. “I have always yearned to garden,” says RoundTable writer Najiah Osborne, “and I wasn’t going to let COVID-19 deter me from my desire to do so this summer. After doing loads of research, I decided to volunteer with Evanston Grows to get my hands dirty.”

Credit: Carrie Abernathy

Actress, model, pageant queen and Haven middle schooler. ZeAnn Blair, a 13-year-old Haven middle schooler, returned to Evanston from Atlanta in early August crowned Teen Miss U.S. United 2022. The national pageant title is only one of many accomplishments she has racked up: ZeAnn is a model, athlete and actress who has walked the runway in New York Fashion Week.

Commission ponders whether building changes are major or minor. Evanston’s Land Use Commission issued a recommendation for a modification to the completed facade of the Ann Rainey Apartments, 999-1015 Howard St., at its meeting last night. But members also deliberated on what constitutes major and minor changes to a building, and what responsibilities developers have to deliver finished products that closely match proposals.

Redistricting Committee faces the challenge of shifting wards for balance. Redistricting Committee members are beginning to test different scenarios to produce a balanced ward map – a delicate process, as one change could throw other wards out of whack. The 2020 census found Evanston had 78,810 residents, with a 20.4% difference between the most-populous ward, the third, and least-populous, the ninth.

Picturing Evanston. An idyllic view of Clark Street Beach on a warm summer evening in August. (Photo by Joerg Metzner)

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Around the web

Football Notebook: Gallagher embraces crucial role on defense, Fitzgerald declines to reveal a starting quarterback. As the Wildcats prepare to open the football season with a game against Nebraska in Ireland this Saturday, the Daily Northwestern’s John Riker covers junior linebacker Bryce Gallagher’s central role on the team and head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s secrecy around who will start at QB.

These robots are keeping trash out of Lake Michigan. Remote-controlled drones that can rake up trash on the beach and in the water are set to go to work at 18 sites across Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Chicago’s top doctor shows cautious optimism on monkeypox. Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady hosted a Facebook Live stream on Tuesday and said the city is “not seeing the potentially exponential growth that we were seeing early on.” Chicago saw 113 new cases reported last week, down from 138 and 141 new cases the previous two weeks.

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Susy Schultz is the editor of the Evanston Roundtable. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and is the former president of Public Narrative, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching journalists and...