McKinley Park News
Published March 11, 2020
By: Justin Kerr

Munoz031220The McKinley Park Civic Association celebrated at the group's annual banquet and awards on Sunday, March 8, 2020, feting local educators, student writers and William H.G. Toms Community Service Award winner Steve Demitro with awards, acknowledgements and a multi-course, family-style dinner. The event, now in its 49th year, brought together the McKinley Park neighborhood with educators, elected officials and politicians at Polonia Banquets in the Brighton Park neighborhood.

"What makes McKinley Park great is the people," said Demitro, who highlighted the work of many of the groups and volunteers of the neighborhood. "This is a team effort," he said.

Alongside presentations of Educator of the Year award winners, the civic association and Illinois 1st District State Senator Tony Muñoz praised the efforts of the student writers who won the "My Hero Is ..." essay contest, which both Muñoz and the association sponsored. In addition to a certificate celebrating their win, the student essayists received a 1 oz. silver commemorative coin and a copy of the Illinois Blue Book.
Local Winners

"I am so honored," said Nathanael Greene Elementary School teacher Michelle McKeown of her Educator of the Year award. "It is a privilege to be among the other great teachers of McKinley Park."

Other winning teachers feted at the banquet included Marty Basco of Evergreen Academy Middle School, Mark Darnall of Thomas Kelly College Prep high school, Patrick Hunter of Horizon Science Academy - McKinley Park, Cindy Mlynarski of Burroughs Elementary School, Brother Christopher Oddo of the De La Salle Institute, Miguel Patino of Blessed Sacrament Parish and Sara Urban of Namaste Charter School.

The winning student writers were Layla Cruz, Zoe Martinez, Rosie Moreno, Giselle Rios and Gavin Torres. All are neighborhood residents, and each won their classroom category, which ranged from elementary school to high school and special education.

Also receiving special plaudits at the banquet were Glenn and Christine Young, who just retired after 26 years of volunteering as facilitators for the neighborhood's Beat 912 of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS).
Memorial Day Parade in Jeopardy

In addition to Muñoz, other elected officials attending the banquet included Illinois 2nd District State Representative Theresa Mah and Cook County 7th District Commissioner Alma Anaya.

McKinley Park Civic Association President Agnes Bednarkiewicz congratulated the winners and noted the other big activities of the neighborhood group, including the annual Memorial Day Parade and ceremonies to acknowledge veterans. However, this beloved annual event may now be in jeopardy due to additional permitting requirements, she said.

The next McKinley Park Civic Association Meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, at the McKinley Park branch of the Chicago Public Library. The public is invited to attend and get involved in the civic association, including support and planning toward producing the 2020 Memorial Day parade for McKinley Park.

Photo credit: McKinley Park News

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