Teachers strike tops 2012 stories in Lake Forest
Students climb aboard buses at Lake Forest High School Sept. 17. School was in session in spite of the teachers strike. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Top web stories
The five most-viewed stories in 2012 on the LAKE FORESTER website:
1. Community stunned by death of Edward Schutt.
2. Lake Forest woman drowns in Lake Michigan.
3. LFHS principal reflects on student death.
4. LFHS student killed by train identified.
5. Desperate Housewives star Kathryn Joosten dies.
- Lake Forest teachers to review contract Thursday
- Three teen deaths in 76 days in Lake Forest look to have no parallel
- Lake Forest focuses on emotional health
- Lake Forest swimmer Grevers leaves London with 2 Olympic gold medals
- Grevers wows Lake Forest crowd
- Lake Forest approves hospital master plan
- Barat College land transfer planned Dec. 12
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:06PM
LAKE FOREST — The past 12 months have held a number of firsts in the community. Some a cause for rejoicing, others prompting anger and heartache. Pioneer Press offers Lake Forester readers the top five stories from 2012.
1. LFHS teachers strike for five days in September
Lake Forest High School teachers walked out of contract negotiations on Sept. 11 and started picketing the next morning, closing the school and marking the first strike in the school’s history.
The teacher walkout lasted five days, with picketing in front of the school drawing cheers and jeers from passersby.
For three of the five days the 150 teachers were on strike, the district held alternative classes, which the Illinois State Board of Education ruled were not official school days.
A group of two dozen students, representing the more than 1,718-member student body, held a candlelight vigil with hopes to get regular classes and athletic competition back in session.
The Lake Forest High School Board of Education reached a deal with the Lake Forest Education Association on a four-year contract during the early morning hours of Sept. 19. Classes resumed that day.
On Oct. 11, the school board unanimously approved the contract that had been hammered out by negotiators with the help of a federal mediator.
The contract calls for salary increases ranging from 2.4 percent to 3.8 percent. On health-care costs, another sticking point for the LFEA members, concessions were made.
“It’s a fair contract,” LFEA spokesman Chuck Gress said then. “There was compromise on both sides.”
The teachers had sought increases ranging from 4.7 percent to 6.5 percent and settled for nearly half as much.
School Board Finance Chairman Jim Carey said the agreed-upon increases “reflect the current economic conditions.”
The contract will run through July 1, 2016.
2. Three teen deaths leave community reeling
A cluster of suicides by three Lake Forest High School students — all male — stunned the community in a three-month period in early 2012. Each teen died in separate incidences, but all as a result of being struck by a Metra train in Lake Forest.
Farid Hussain, 15, a sophomore, died Jan. 9. Seven weeks later, William Laskero-Teskoski, 15, a freshman, died Feb. 28. The following month, Edward Schutt, 18, a senior, died March 25.
As a result of the tragedies, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff coordinated efforts to create a Community Wellness Task Force and brought in a research team from Johns Hopkins University to assess the communities’ mental health resources.
The task force included the combined efforts of local schools, churches, CROYA (Committee Representing Our Young Adults), Lake Forest College, LEAD (Leading Efforts Against Drugs), Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and others to partner together to improve depression screening as well as depression signs and symptoms training.
3. LFHS grad Matt Grevers wins Olympic gold
As the world watched the dazzling Summer Olympics unfold in London, the local community sat on the edge of its collective seat as former Lake Forest High School swimmer Matt Grevers competed for and won Olympic gold.
The 2003 LFHS graduate did his country proud by not only winning the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke race, but doing it in Olympic-record time.
Grevers was the only area athlete to medal at the London Games.
The LFHS alum, who won eight state championships in high school, wowed the local crowd with an in-person visit to his alma mater on Sept. 4.
Hundreds turned out for the event, dubbed “Meet Matt,” to welcome home their local hero and view his Olympic medals firsthand.
Lake Forest Mayor James Cowhey proclaimed Sept. 4, 2012, as “Matt Grevers Day” in Lake Forest.
The six-time Olympic medalist, in turn, thanked his hometown for its ongoing support.
“Without you guys, I really couldn’t do it,” Grevers said.
4. Master plan for hospital expansion approved
After months of discussion, the Lake Forest City Council granted on Oct. 4 a special-use permit to approve the master plan for Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, setting in motion the plan to construct a state-of-the-art healthcare facility.
Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital President Thomas J. McAfee thanked city aldermen for reaching “a watershed moment in delivering care” to the community.
The architectural team of HGA and Pelli Clarke Pelli will design the new hospital.
In addition to the new hospital building, the plan includes construction of a new medical office building and parking on the 161-acre campus.
Construction could begin on the new hospital in 2014 with anticipated completion in 2017.
The current hospital, originally built in 1942, will be reused as an educational facility.
5. Barat College land transferred to Woodlands
Property that was once the campus of Barat College, a century-old liberal arts school, formally became part of Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart Dec. 12.
The 23-acre, heavily wooded parcel, which sits immediately south of Woodlands between Western Avenue and Sheridan Road, was purchased through an anonymous gift under which the land was donated to Woodlands on the condition that Old Main, the five-story, red-brick, Barat campus centerpiece be demolished.
The donation marked an end to uncertainty over the future of the property. Since its sale in 2005 by DePaul University, which purchased the college in 2001, Barat has been the subject of a failed residential development, a foreclosure lawsuit and an unsuccessful battle by preservationists to save Sacred Heart Chapel inside Old Main.
The Lake Forest City Council gave its stamp of approval to the anonymous land donation in early 2012 when it voted to amend Woodlands’ special-use permit, allowing the sole educational utilization of its grounds to extend to the Barat property.