volunteers talking with parents

Scores Attend Hawthorn PTO Open House

Scores of families and community members attended Hawthorn PTO’s first annual open house on May 22. The event was an opportunity for PTO volunteers to inform the community about the many programs and activities offered, including Art Adventure, Mother-Daughter Tea, Variety Show, Boys’ Night Out and Book Fairs. Parents also met Incoming Superintendent Dr. Peter Hannigan, who will officially begin at Hawthorn School District 73 on July 1, 2019. The mission of the PTO is to enhance the education of children by promoting the connection between home, school, and the community. For more information, contact: President@hawthornpto.org.

School board clip art

Highlights of the May 20 Board of Education Meeting

Review of Middle School Dual Language Program Assessment Data
Dr. Abrego, Director of Bilingual Education and Language Acquisition, provided a review of qualitative and quantitative assessment data regarding the Middle School Dual Language program. The data focused on parent and student perception of bilingualism, parent and student satisfaction with the program and student academic performance in the areas of English language arts, Spanish literacy and social studies. In addition, students participated in a Spanish language proficiency assessment. The results indicate that the vast majority of students participating in the middle school dual language program are exceeding, meeting or approaching designated learning standards in English language arts, Spanish literacy and social studies. Linguistically, they performed at the intermediate level in listening and reading. Overall, the results of this assessment review indicate that our students are bilingual and they are progressing well on this journey towards greater bilingualism. Dr. Abrego indicated that it is essential that we continue to communicate to our students the importance of bilingualism, that being a bilingual is a continuous journey and that with continued exposure and use, the students will become more proficient and confident in using their linguistic skills and abilities.

Amended Budget

Abe Singh, Director of Finance and Business Operations, discussed the amended 2018-2019 budget. He said that while the budget was adopted in September of last year, it needed to be adjusted to account for the addition of $13.5 million in referendum funds and the spending of $6.9 million toward the construction of the kindergarten building at the Sullivan Center. A copy of the amended budget has been posted for more than 30 days for public review. An opportunity for public comment on the budget was allotted, with no comments. The final 2018-2019 amended budget was unanimously approved by the board. 

Recognition of National Board Certified Teachers

The Board recognized eight teachers who had completed their National Board Certification training. Interim Superintendent Mark Friedman said that this was a difficult process that required a great deal of time. He congratulated the teachers on behalf of the Board of Education. 

Innovation Grant Awards

Jeremy Gong, Board President of the Key to 73, Hawthorn’s new foundation, announced the grants that the foundation recently awarded to teachers. He said the foundation awarded approximately $15,000 in grants, responding to 100% of the proposals that were received. The grants ranged from flexible classroom seating to earthquake technologies supplements. 

Recognition of Lynn Barkley

The Board recognized Lynn Barkley, Director of Human Resources, who is retiring after seven years of service with the District. Ms. Barkley briefly spoke about her work at the district and her primary focus on meeting the needs of the District’s students. 

Welcome to New Assistant Principal

Mr. Singh reported that 89 people applied for the assistant principal position at Middle School South. After extensive screenings and interviews, Natalie Mares was offered the position. She comes to Hawthorn from East Aurora School District 113 where she has been a high school English teacher and varsity dance team coach.  

New Kindergarten Name

Dr. Friedman once again recommended Hawthorn School for Young Learners as the name for the kindergarten building at the Sullivan Center. This name had been recommended at a previous board meeting. At that time, it was agreed to ask the community at large for name suggestions. Only a few name suggestions were provided. The board unanimously approved the name, which is suitable for the building whether it remains a kindergarten or includes an early childhood learning center in the future. 


Dr. Friedman reminded everyone that the last day of school is June 6, less than three weeks away. The eighth-grade promotion ceremonies are May 28 at Vernon Hills High School. He also reported that this year’s online registration of returning students was a huge success. (The online registration process replaces the Residency Event, which will no longer take place.) If any family hasn’t registered yet, please do so. 

Winners of the Most Improved awards

Twelve Students Win Most Improved Awards

Congratulations to the 12 students in second, fifth and eighth grades who won this year’s “Most Improved” Awards. Dr. Joe Yomtoob, a former Hawthorn superintendent, and his wife, Mrs. Parichehr Yomtoob, presented the awards at a reception that took place prior to last night’s Board of Education meeting. The 2019 recipients are:

  • Precious O.
  • Landon B.
  • Patrick H.
  • Lara N.
  • Angeles S.
  • Ethan C.
  • Evelyn R.
  • Santiago R.
  • Sebastian C.
  • Nicole U.
  • Sydney S.
  • Gabriela G.

Several of the winners read their essays to the audience and received substantial applause in return. To apply for the award, students submitted essays on why they felt they deserved the award. They were asked to reflect on how they grew in the last three years of school. They were also asked to detail the steps they took to make improvements, who helped them, and how they planned to continue to grow.

School board clip art

Regular Session Scheduled for May 20

Regular Session of the Board of Education will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, May 20, 2019.  The meeting will take place at the District Office, 841 West End Court in Vernon Hills, Illinois.

Aspen Drive Map

Rerouting Pedestrian Traffic on Aspen Drive

As you know, this is an exciting time at School District 73! Thanks to your support, we have begun construction activities to build the new kindergarten building and begin the process of easing the stress on our programs and facilities. We are excited about the improvements and opportunities this will create for your child’s continued learning and exploration!

As you may have noticed, activity has already begun in the site directly adjacent to The Sullivan Center. As the preliminary site clearing concludes, the contractor will be installing fencing to secure the construction site to maintain a safe environment for all pedestrians in the general area. As a precautionary measure and to maintain the safety of your child, we will be routing all pedestrian traffic down the west side of Aspen Drive with crossing guards positioned both in front of The Sullivan Center as well as in front of the Aspen Library directly across from Aspen Pointe Drive. (The light green line on the map represents the closed walking path.) We understand and support the importance of these partnering facilities to all community members and want to encourage their use. The crossing guards will help to communicate this important message to all the children we serve as they seek to utilize facilities at The Sullivan Center as well as the library services. We ask that you please join us in sharing this important safety message with your children. Please see the attached map for clarification. 

Foundation Board members

Key to 73 Foundation Awards New Grants

The Key to 73, Hawthorn School District 73’s newly incorporated foundation, presented 10 grant awards totaling approximately $15,000 to 26 teachers during ceremonies last Thursday. This is the first year that the Foundation awarded grants, which will fund projects that will enhance the educational experiences for Hawthorn’s students. 

“We’re very excited to offer this opportunity to teachers,” said the Foundation’s President Jeremy Gong. “Our foundation is increasing the resources available to teachers to inspire and motivate students at all levels.  These grants will have a positive impact for years to come.”

Following is a list of the projects that will be funded through the grants:

  • Google Cardboard Viewers for two Middle School South eighth grade Language Arts and Social Studies teachers.
  • Childhood ObesityPrevention Resources/Materials for two Middle School South PE staff members.
  • Twelve Flexible Lighting Lamps and Charging Ports for two Middle School North seventh grade language arts teachers.
  • Flexible Classroom Seating for one Middle School South RTI specialist.
  • Bee-Bots for four Townline Elementary fourth grade teachers. 
  • Earthquake Technologies Supplements for five Elementary South fourth grade teachers.
  • 30 STEM Bins for three Townline Elementary first grade teachers.
  • A one-year subscription to Social Express Videos from Common Sense Media for an Elementary North social worker.
  • Flexible Seating for three Aspen Elementary teachers.
  • A contra bass bar for three Elementary North music teachers.

Several of the grants were made in partnership with Rust-Oleum.  All the teachers who submitted grant requests received funding.

The Key to 73 Hawthorn Education Foundation was established in 2017 to raise private sector funds to support the goals of the District’s Strategic Plan. The Foundation gives the District’s schools the ability to offer students programs and opportunities beyond those provided through regular funding. For more information visit the Foundation’s website.

Hawthorn School District #73 is a preschool through eighth-grade public school district serving more than 4,200 students. It serves all or portions of the communities of Vernon Hills, Mundelein, Libertyville, Indian Creek and unincorporated areas of Lake County, Illinois.

Teachers in groups

Early Release Day Offers Time for Collaboration

Early Release Days offer a block of time for teachers and staff to work collaboratively on the strategic work of the District. Overall, this collaborative work is important to student learning.

School District and Park District representatives with shovels

Groundbreaking Event Marks Start of Construction of Kindergarten Building

Hawthorn School District 73 held a groundbreaking event on Monday to celebrate the start of construction of its new kindergarten building at the Sullivan Community Center. The District’s Board President Robin Cleek thanked the community for making this opportunity possible.

“We’re grateful to be in a community that understands that our future is inextricably linked to the education of our children and we must work collaboratively for their success,” said Ms. Cleek. “The kindergarten center is truly the result of a collaborative process. First, we’d like to extend our gratitude to the voters for allowing us to move forward with this project. We’d also like to thank the Vernon Hills Park District for being a superb partner throughout this lengthy process.”

School board clip art

Highlights of the April 29, Board of Education Meeting

Interim Superintendent Mark Friedman presented outgoing board member Jayson Tran with a plaque in recognition of his service to the community after serving for 11 years on the school board. Dr. Friedman said, “It is a noble thing to serve when you know the rewards are not tangible.” Mr. Tran thanked him. In a brief speech, he concluded, “My reward is seeing all the faces of the children that we impact.”

Dr. Friedman discussed the current student enrollment number, which is 4,453. He said this number reinforced the District’s resolution to pursue funds for an expansion effort due to the continuous growth in student population.  Other announcements included:

  • The groundbreaking for the new kindergarten building will be on May 6 at 11:30 a.m.
  • An official recommendation for the name of the new kindergarten building will be presented at the next board meeting. 
  • Returning student registration is currently open and will close on May 10. The online registration process replaces the traditional residency event.
  • The eighth-grade promotion ceremonies are on May 28.

Current board members Sonali Patil, Robin Cleek, Victoria Helander-Heiser, and George Fievet were sworn in for new terms. Joel Finfer was sworn in as a new board member.  The board voted on a new slate of officers. The new officers are:

  • President: Robin Cleek
  • Vice President: Wes Polen
  • Secretary: George Fievet 

The board meeting schedule for the 2019-2020 school year was approved. It is different from schedules of previous years. For the most part, the meetings will take place once per month on Thursdays. 

Board President Robin Cleek congratulated the Hawthorn Middle School North Science Olympiad team for coming in seventh out of 50 at the State Science Olympiad event. She also congratulated Middle School South for its production of “Oklahoma,” which received rave reviews, and the Middle School North Scholastic Bowl Team, which earned the regional championship title. Dr. Friedman congratulated Jamie Kahn, the Assistant Principal at Middle School South, who is leaving Hawthorn to join another school district.

Hawthorn Kindergarten Rendering 4

Groundbreaking Scheduled for May 6

The District is holding a brief groundbreaking event for its new kindergarten building at the Sullivan Community Center. It will take place on Monday, May 6, at 11:30 a.m. at 635 N. Aspen Drive in Vernon Hills.