Achievements

The District 97 community has earned a number of prestigious honors and awards, including:

Schools/District

  • On March 3, 2012, District 97 took first place at the West 40 Speech and Drama Festival for the second consecutive year.
  • An alliance of three middle school teams from District 97’s Vex Robotics program took first place in the Great Lakes-Midwest-Illinois Vex Robotics Championship; and went on to compete in the National Championship in Omaha, Nebraska, with one team finishing the qualifying rounds with a perfect record (7-0) and another earning second place overall in the final round.
  • The physical education department from Julian Middle School received the Blue Ribbon Award from the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD) during the spring of 2012. It was the second time the department had earned the award, which recognizes excellent physical education programs in Illinois, since 2007.
  • State Representative Tom Cross and the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus awarded the first Stand Up/Stand Out Award to Mann Elementary School on March 19, 2012. The school was selected because of its excellence in implementing the Care of Students with Diabetes Act into their everyday education.
  • On May 19, 2012, Brooks Middle School's BRAVO program earned several top honors during the Music in the Parks National Music Festival held at Eureka High School/Six Flags-St. Louis. The school's orchestra received a rating of "superior" and took first place in the Middle School Orchestra Division. Its band received a rating of "excellent" and took second place in the Middle School Band Division. In addition, its choir received a rating of "superior" and took second place in the Middle School Choral Division.
  • On May 18, 2012, Julian Middle School’s symphony orchestra, choir, wind ensemble and symphonic/concert band all received the top rating of “superior” during the High Note Festival held at Edgewood Middle School in Highland Park.
  • The girls cross country team from Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School took first place in the Illinois Elementary School Association Sectionals meet.
  • At the 2011 Math Olympiad, Brooks Middle School's sixth grade team placed first overall, with students Kevin Obrecht and Deepu Ganesan capturing second and third place respectively, while the eighth grade team earned third place in the seventh/eighth grade competition.
  • Board member Peter Traczyk was named the Oak Park Villager of the Year for 2011 by the Wednesday Journal.
  • The voters of Oak Park approved the District 97 limiting rate increase that appeared on the ballot on April 5, 2011. It was the first operating referendum the district had sought in more than 20 years. 
  • District 97 has earned a Bright Red Apple Award for educational excellence 11 of the last 12 years.
  • Mann Elementary School has earned an Academic Excellence Award from the Illinois State Board of Education each of the past six years.
  • District 97 has won eight grand prize awards, four second place awards, two third place awards and nine special merit awards in the Global Virtual Classroom Contest since 2005.
  • Beye Elementary School earned an Illinois Environmental Hero Award during the 2010-2011 school year.
  • Holmes Elementary School earned a Green Award from the Village of Oak Park during the 2010-2011 school year.
  • Brooks Middle School earned the status of National School of Distinction from the Schools Fight Hunger program. The honor, which was awarded to fewer than 2,000 schools nationwide for the 2010-11 school year, is given to schools that demonstrate notable enthusiasm, creativity or dedication in getting involved with the effort to fight hunger.
  • BRAVO earned the National Junior Theater Festival's top honor of Outstanding Production three straight years (2010, 2011 and 2012).
  • The second and third grade multiage class from Longfellow earned first place in the LEGO Education Landmark School Competition in November 2010.
  • The Julian boys’ basketball team won the village title during the 2010-2011 school year.
  • The seventh and eighth grade Julian girls’ basketball teams won conference titles during the 2009-2010 school year.
  • The Brooks boys’ basketball team won the Fenwick High School Invitational Basketball Tournament during the 2009-2010 school year.
  • Brooks Middle School earned the Keep America Beautiful Award in 2007 for its worm composting program.

Students

  • Mary Blankemeier, a seventh grader from Brooks Middle School, captured first place and set a state record of five minutes and 10.23 seconds in the 1600 meter run during the state meet held by the Illinois Elementary School Association on May 18 and 19, 2012. In addition to Blankemeier, who also took second place in the 800 meter dash, Chisom Nwoko, an eighth grader from Brooks, finished first in the 400 meter dash. Other notable individual performances included, Leah Brumfield, a seventh grader from Julian Middle School, took second place in the100 meter dash, sixth place in the 200 meter dash and tied for ninth place in the high jump at the girls 7AA level; Ainsley Tran, an eighth grader from Brooks, took fifth place in the 1600 meter run at the girls 8AA level; Hallie Voss, a seventh grader from Brooks, took sixth place in the 1600 meter run at the girls 7AA level; and Rino Watson, a seventh grader from Brooks, took ninth in the 100 meter dash at the boys 7AA level.
  • Several District 97 students earned medals in the Special Olympics Illinois District A Gymnastics competition held on March 11, 2012 in Palatine. These students included: Jack Butler from Brooks (three gold, three silver, and a bronze), Lorenzo DiNuzzo from Brooks (four gold and two silver), Ryan Gravely from Julian (one gold and one silver), Cooper Ricks from Lincoln (four gold, one silver and one bronze) and Jenna Ricks from Brooks (three gold and two silver).
  • Max Gonzalez, an eighth grader from Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, earned the award for Outstanding Male Performer at the National Junior Theater Festival in 2012.
  • Mary Blankemeier, a seventh grade student from Brooks Middle School, took first place in the 2011 Girls AA Cross Country Champion state meet. Other notable individual performances by District 97 students included a fifth place finish by Caroline Galo, a seventh grade student from Percy Julian Middle School, and a 13th place finish by Ainsley Tran, an eighth grade student from Brooks. The girls team from Brooks earned fourth place overall in the meet.
  • During the 2010-2011 school year, more than 30 students from Brooks and Julian earned awards from the West Suburban Consortium for Academic Excellence for their outstanding scores on the SAT, which they were given the opportunity to take through Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS). Patrick Gardner, an eighth grader from Brooks, received an additional award for earning the highest score on the reading section of the test.
  • Claire Allen and Morgan Varnado, fourth grade students from Lincoln School, and Isabella Reish and Spencer Abbott, third grade students from Longfellow School, were informed in spring 2011 that their work would be published in the annual student anthology Award-Winning Young Writers of America.

Staff

  • Marvin Childress, a first grade multiage teacher at Lincoln, and Elizabeth Chase Vivas, a kindergarten teacher at Lincoln, were among the 32 finalists who were selected from more than 500 nominees for the 2012 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Sixteen District 97 staff members have either won or been nominated for Golden Apple Awards since 1995.
  • Administrator Award from the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance – Principal Sheila Carter (2011).
  • District 97 staff members have earned nearly 80 Those Who Excel Awards since 1977.
  • Tech & Learning magazine's Leader of the Year award – Kevin Anderson (2010-2011 school year).
  • Whole Foods Outstanding Health Educator Award – Sandy Noel (2009-2010 school year).
  • Adviser of the Year award from Best Buddies – Sue Diehl (2009-2010 school year).
  • Midwest District Elementary P.E. Teacher of the Year – Sandy Noel (2008)
  • The Stilgebauer Award – Naomi Copeland (2007)
  • Edyth May Sliffe Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching – Sharen Young (2007)
  • Northeastern District Highlight School Program Award – Sandy Noel (2007)
  • Illinois Elementary P.E. Teacher of the Year – Sandy Noel (2007)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oak Park Area Arts Council – Kay Sorensen (2006)
  • Outstanding Teacher Award in Education from Congressman Danny Davis – Jarvia Thomas (2006)
  • USA Today All USA Teacher Team – Sandy Noel (2006)
  • Global SchoolNet Educator of the Year – Janet Barnstable (2005)
  • Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation Award – Ellen Holleman (2003)
  • Shared Learning Champion - Global SchoolNet Online – Janet Barnstable (2003)
  • Edyth May Sliffe Award for Distinguished Junior High Mathematics Teacher – Margaret DeFily Farmar (2002)
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals State Principal of the Year – Dr. Victoria Sharts (2001)
  • ICTM Presidential Award – David Smith (1997)