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posted: 5/11/2010 12:01 AM

Neighbors in the News

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  • Courtney O'Keefe

    Courtney O'Keefe


• Des Plaines Public Library librarian Courtney O'Keefe is one of 30 Illinois librarians selected to participate in Synergy: The Illinois Library Leadership Initiative, a yearlong program designed to develop future leaders in the library professions and in the Illinois community.

The group of librarians attend three sessions and work in a unique environment with other developing leaders, experienced Illinois library leaders and nationally recognized speakers. The goal of the program is to develop leadership skills that can be applied in local, state and global arenas. The Illinois State Library and the Illinois Library Association sponsor the seminars and all associated attendance costs.

O'Keefe attended a Synergy seminar and worked with other library community members April 20-22 in Utica, and will attend Synergy seminars August 3-5 in Grafton and October 26-28 in Lisle.

• Patrick Barnett, Maine West High School Fine Arts department chairman, was chosen National Chair Elect for MENC Tri-M, a program of the National Association for Music Educators.

The Tri-M Music Honor Society is the international music honor society for middle/junior high and high school students. It recognizes students for academic and musical achievements, rewards them for their accomplishments and service activities and inspires other students to excel at music and leadership.

Barnett's roots in the organization run deep. Before his appointment at Maine West, he served for 19 years as choir director at Maine East High School, where Tri M's first chapter was formed in the 1930s. At East, Barnett sponsored Tri-M Chapter #1 and, during nearly 20 years, helped resurrect a chapter that earlier had become less active.

Barnett's official term of office starts on July 1, 2010 as National Chair-Elect, and he will serve two years there before becoming the National Chair in 2012.

• Marquette University's J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication awarded junior Jennifer Mitchell the 2010-2011 Christopher Farley Scholarship. Mitchell is an Arlington Heights resident and 2007 graduate of Rolling Meadows High School.

The scholarship is awarded as part of a competition conducted each year by the university and the Farley family. Chris Farley was a 1986 graduate of Marquette University, who went on to success with Chicago's Second City, Saturday Night Live and films. Farley's career was cut short by his death in 1997.

In addition, the school also awarded Mitchell the George P. Wensel III Memorial Scholarship, presented annually to a junior, who possesses an excellent intellect and knowledge of the subject matter, leadership traits, a sense of humanity, relentless drive, passion and humor.

Both awards were presented to Mitchell during a ceremony Sunday, April 25, at the Alumni Memorial Union on the campus of Marquette University in Milwaukee.

• Jackie Chiakas, a fourth-grader at Iroquois Community School, competed in the Des Plaines Optimist Club's Oratorical Contest and won the award for Most Improved Girl. This was the first time Chiakas participated in the contest.

Twenty-six boys and girls, ages 6-16 years old, competed in the contest. Each speech lasted four-five minutes on the topic: "Cyber-Communication: Progress or Problem?" This was a preliminary competition for the boys and the girls. Six girls were chosen to go on to the Club level competition. Next, regional and state level competitions are held where they competed for scholarships.

Chiakas enjoyed the opportunity to compete and is already looking forward to next year's Oratorical Contest.