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As the school year ends, local residents and leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the achievements of Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Superintendent Hardy Murphy and his staff.
Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton led the reception, which was paid for and hosted by two local restaurants, Hecky’s Barbeque, 1902 Green Bay Rd., and Koi, 624 Davis St.
“Unfortunately in this community, we have some people who don’t say nice things because they don’t know nice things,” said Morton, a former principal of Haven Middle School. “They don’t know nice things because they don’t know nothing about education.”
Morton said it was important for Evanston to show a united front in support of its schools.
“It is important that we present to the community and the world that we have a wonderful School District 65 and that our students are achieving,” Morton said.
School board president Mary Erickson thanked Murphy for his leadership of the district.
“I hope you feel a real sense of accomplishment for all you’ve done,” Erickson said.
Erickson, the only current board member who held office when Murphy was named superintendent in 1999, lauded the district’s staff for its hard work.
“I hope you take the energy of a night like tonight and use it to re-energize yourself,” Erickson said.
Hecky Powell, a former District 65 school board president and the owner of Hecky’s Barbeque, said his experience on the board helped him understand the difficulties Murphy and other administrators face.
“By working with him, I know what he goes through,” Powell said. “We appreciate him and we appreciate the principals and we appreciate the administration.”
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (13th) thanked the district for its work with students and parents.
“You are the public officials on the front lines,” Suffredin said. “You get more calls than we do.”
Suffredin presented Murphy and Erickson with a resolution passed by the Cook County Board commending the district as “an example of educational excellence.”
Former mayor Jay Lytle, the managing director of Evanston’s First Bank and Trust, said Murphy improved the district almost immediately after his hiring.
“Hardy came in and brought in accountability for the teachers,” Lytle said.
Evanston Chamber of Commerce President Jonathan Perman and Illinois State Senator Jeff Schoenberg also spoke during the reception.
Murphy thanked his staff and said the district has made great progress in his six years.
“Have we solved the achievement gap?” said Murphy. “Absolutely not. But our district is not stagnant.”
The district’s accomplishments include increases in the test scores of black students and balanced budgets in each of the past seven years.
“People have a reason to bring their children to our district,” Murphy said.
Morton urged the community to remain supportive of Murphy and the district staff.
“Our superintendent is attempting to carry forward the tradition of an excellent school district, and those who know education know this is happening,” Morton said. “So Hardy, I’m here for you, your baldness and all.”
Reach Nomaan Merchant at [email protected]