Photographer in focus

Josh Hawkins, one half of our hard-working photography staff here at Wednesday Journal (Frank Pinc is the other half), was recently recognized for his efforts by the Illinois Press Photographer Association, which awarded him second place in the Feature Picture Story category the weekend before last and a third place in the Pictorial category. Since most of the award winners come from the large daily newspaper staffs, this is a particularly gratifying honor-though it doesn’t surprise us one bit. If you want to check out Josh’s award-winning work, here’s the link:, but we’re including a sample to whet (wet?) your appetite.

Lobbying for civil unions

Today, members and supporters of the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association are down in Springfield lobbying legislators to vote for state recognition of civil unions. State Sen. Don Harmon has expressed support, but State Rep. Deborah Graham (78th) said she hasn’t made a decision yet on the civil union bill.

“I’m just listening to discussion on the bill and from those on both sides. I’ve made no decisions. It’s one of those bills where you have to take your time to absorb it.”

Graham said she has supported fair housing and unemployment legislation pertaining to gays and lesbians in the past. When pressed further about the civil union bill, Graham said she has a good working relationship with people on both sides.

“It’s just a sensitive issue. People on both sides are very passionate about it. These are not easy issues when you have a diverse district.”

Monopolizing Simic

Charles Simic is coming to the Chicago Public Library, April 26 at noon, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, to speak. Simic is the nation’s current Poet Laureate and spent his formative years at Oak Park and River Forest High School in the mid-1950s. He was especially taken by the Oak Park Public Library which he frequented … frequently.

When we did our feature profile on him in November, he expressed an interest in seeing the new library. So a quick sidetrip during his stay should be a natural. But apparently the trip’s sponsors (CPL and The Poetry Foundation) are guarding him jealously and won’t allow him to make other appearances.

Since Mr. Simic is the nation’s poet at the moment, we can’t help wondering how CPL gets away with restricting his appearances.

Meanwhile, another noted Oak Park author (The Book of Vice) and personality Peter Sagal, host of the public radio show Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, will be at CPL on April 15, at 6 p.m., to moderate a panel discussion of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, the latest One Book, One Chicago selection. If there are laughs in a book by Raymond Chandler, Sagal will find them.

Black student achievement

Among the more than 800 African-American high school students selected by the National Achievement Scholarship Program to receive a total of $2.6 million in scholarships, are two Oak Park students, Brittany Kelleher of Fenwick and Jean-Luc Mosley of OPRF. Congrats to both.

New D90 supt. to visit in May

Incoming District 90 superintendent Thomas Hagerman will be incoming to River Forest twice next month. Hagerman, who will assume his new post on July 1, will meet with school administrators and board members May 1-2. He’ll return for additional meetings with a wider group of school staff and community members on May 15-16 and May 19.

“I’ve got him fairly tightly scheduled with administrators and board members,” said Interim Supt. David Bonnette.

Prior to Hagerman’s visits the school district will be laying the ground work for one of Hagerman’s key tasks in 2009. Thursday, April 17 the school board will host a State of the District event at Roosevelt School. That meeting will be comprised of an update on district operations, finances, curriculum and student performance. It will be followed by a community forum soliciting parental and community input. That input will be used to develop a community survey, conducted in May.

“The purpose of both is as a precursor to doing a strategic planning process in 2009,” said Bonnette.

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