District 113: Back to school at Highland Park and Deerfield

Dear D113 Community,

It is hard to believe we are already in the fourth week of the 2022-23 school year. Both schools have held their open houses, parents and guardians have had the opportunity to follow their student's schedule and meet teachers.

The energy in the schools is always wonderful on these nights as the buildings are full of smiling faces, teachers and staff eager to meet parents, and parents eager to get a glimpse into their student's courses.

Another thing you may have noticed is that activities and athletics are in full swing. We encourage every student to participate in at least one club, activity or sport.

Extracurricular activities and athletics connect students with each other and with their school. This connection is critical because extracurriculars offer opportunities for students to grow and to learn, of course, but they also provide a touchpoint and an outlet for students to more fully engage in school because they love their experiences in the arts, athletics or activities. We appreciate your support of the wide range of options District 113 is able to offer.

Student Liaisons to the Board of Education

By the time this article is published, our student liaisons to the District 113 Board of Education will have attended their first meeting. Five students will serve in an advisory capacity to the board. They will attend on a rotating basis, sitting at the board table to provide feedback and the student perspective. They will not vote or attend closed session.

We are very excited to have Jeremy Bach, Raquel Bach, Anna Catella, Evelyn Gehrig and Keshav Shah fulfill these important roles this year.

FOCUS on the Arts

In case you missed it, last week the board approved Tamara Jenkins as the FOCUS on the Arts director. Ms. Jenkins, a Highland Park resident and a Deerfield High School alumna, has an incredible résumé full of experience in musical theater, acting and most recently, serving as the executive artistic director of the production company she founded in New York City. Ms. Jenkins is already hard at work planning for FOCUS spring 2023.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is suicide prevention awareness month. Suicide prevention is always important, but it is a difficult topic to discuss. This dedicated month provides the opportunity for us to come together, raise awareness, and share important resources. Each high school has programming to confront this issue.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 10-14, and the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be connected to a trained crisis counselor. In an emergency, please call 911.

School Security

Several enhancements have been made to make our schools more secure, including technology to detect doors that have been propped open, students scanning in each day so only the students in our schools are those who are supposed to be there, increased security staff, and other improvements that we do not say publicly to preserve their effectiveness.

The best security measure schools have is students and parents who let law enforcement or the school know when they see or hear anything that is troubling.

This start to the school year is the closest to normal that we have seen since 2019, and the community should be proud of the work our teachers and administrators are doing to give every student the opportunities and tools to pursue their ideal life. This is what schools do, and we are just getting started this year.

Dr. Bruce Law is the superintendent of schools for Township High School District 113, covering Deerfield and Highland Park high schools.

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