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updated: 5/6/2011 9:12 AM

Des Plaines sixth-grader wins national essay contest

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  • Patricia Hamlen

    Patricia Hamlen

  • Luke Yanule

    Luke Yanule


• Algonquin Middle School, Des Plaines, sixth-grader Rema al Massari received a laptop computer from Major League Baseball, Scholastic Inc., and Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, for winning first prize in the Breaking Barriers Essay Contest. Nationally, al Massari is one of nine students in grades four through eight to win.

Sunday, April 15, marks the anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, in 1947. The Breaking Barriers Essay Contest is a chance for students to share their personal stories and show how they use Jackie Robinson's values to face their own barriers.

• Harper College Associate Professor Patricia Hamlen will spend a month in Brazil this summer, representing Harper and the United States' higher education system as a recipient of a Fulbright grant aimed at equipping American educators with an understanding of day-to-day life, culture and society in the South American country.

Hamlen, a Harper alumna, who teaches cultural anthropology at the college, is one of 15 academics selected for the July Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad program. She'll spend 30 days investigating the cultural, economic and social aspects of Brazilian life, from the roles of slavery and racism to the impact of urbanization; researching the interaction between Brazilian tradition and modern society; and speaking with scholars, government officials and others in five states, including Rio de Janeiro.

• The Chicago Chapter of NACE, National Association of Catering Executives and ISES, International Special Events Society, honored Inverness resident Christina Currie, owner of Christina Currie Events Inc., with its 2011 NICE Award for Best Weddings under $75,000.

Winning event entries are judged on merit in accordance with established criteria based on their ability to meet objectives, event originality and creativity, integration of event elements, event execution, collateral materials, event quality and attention to detail as well as the event concept and challenges that were met and/or overcome. Currie has over 18 years of experience in the special event industry and started her business in 2004.

• East Leyden High School junior Greg Tomczak earned a gold medal at the SkillsUSA State Competition and Conference held April 14-16 at the Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield. At the competition, Tomczak used his math, technical reading and design skills to surpass 46 other students, from more than 30 high schools, to earn the first place medal. He was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the Morrison Institute of Technology and will represent Illinois at the 47th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference to be held June 18-24 in Kansas City.

• Schaumburg High School's dean of students and social studies teacher Luke Yanule was named Hoffman Estates High School's head boys basketball coach, replacing the retiring Bill Wandro, who has served 32 years in District 211 and 20 years as the Hawks' head coach.

Yanule has 13 years of coaching experience, most recently as the Saxons' boys basketball assistant varsity coach and head junior varsity coach. Before this, he was the school's boys sophomore coach and freshmen coach. Yanule holds a bachelor of science degree in secondary education and history and a master's degree in educational leadership, both from Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago. He also is currently working to complete his National Board Certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.