Local Heroes, Students Honored at Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 Showcase and Ceremony (Chicago Heights, IL) — Led by student speakers, student performers, school staff, and board members, Park Forest – Chicago Heights School District 163 on Thursday honored several local community leaders with Local Heroes Awards at Barack Obama School of Leadership and S.T.E.M. with a luncheon ceremony. Put together by board members under the leadership of Board President Walter Mosby III, the ceremony presented State Senator Patrick Joyce, State Representative Anthony Deluca, State Representative Debbie Meyers-Martin, Dr. Nakia Hall, Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez, Park Forest Mayor Jonathan Vanderbilt, University Park Mayor Joseph Roudez, Park Forest Trustee Joseph Woods, Chicago Heights Alderman Renee Smith, Rich Township Supervisor Calvin Jordan, retired NBA player Craig Hodges, Pastor Jamair Atkins, and the first responders of Park Forest and Chicago Heights with the Our Local Heroes – Rising to the Challenge award.
The event began early in the morning with a tour of the Mohawk Primary Center in Park Forest, followed by a tour of the Barack Obama School of Leadership and STEM in Chicago Heights. The tours educated guests on the various programs the schools offered the children over the summer and throughout the school year. The Heroes Luncheon took place immediately after the conclusion of the tours where the community leaders were presented with their Local Heroes Awards. The theme of the day was “Rising to the Challenge.” Profound and heartfelt speeches were delivered by the children on each awardee, highlighting the accomplishments and characteristics of the leaders.
Students also performed a variety of music-centric productions that they spent 5 weeks learning and rehearsing. The student ensemble performances included a dance rendition of The Wiz, which told the entire story of The Wiz in just over three minutes. Also performing were the student choir, cardio-drummers, keyboardists, harmonicists, and poms dancers.
According to board president Walter Mosby III, board vice president Randall White came to him with the idea to honor the local heroes and students with the showcase and awards. “He came to me with this idea, and I just let him run with it,” said Mosby.
“I just wanted to see something that honored the students and local leaders,” White continued. “These kids work so hard and to have them take part in honoring those who help make the community and district a better place was amazing.” White was also a proud father at the event, as two of his own children participated in performances and speeches.
Pastor Michael C. Robinson of Ypsilanti, Michigan delivered the keynote address, speaking passionately of his own history as a troubled young man who spent time in prison. He encouraged the youth with his story, concluding with an analogy to the tall redwood trees in California. He said, “Redwood trees have roots that only go down five feet, so how can they stand so tall?…Their roots spread out…they bypass the roots of the maple trees, evergreen trees…and lock themselves around the roots of another redwood, and they stand tall.”
Local Heroes, Students Honored at Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 Showcase and Ceremony