Winnetka, News

News Briefs: New Trier security guard honored; Wilmette library earns 5 stars; Trivia night nets thousands for local schools

New Trier High School security staffer Johnyell “Johnny” Owens was honored with a Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Illinois State Board of Education and Governor JB Pritzker announced on Nov. 30 that Owens is one of two Illinois school support personnel selected by state officials to represent Illinois in the 2022 national RISE Awards, which recognize school support personnel. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will select one employee to receive the national RISE Award by spring 2023.

“Working at New Trier with so many amazing staff members, teachers, and students has made me want to pursue education,” said Owens, a U.S. Navy veteran who reportedly is taking night classes to become a physical education teacher. “I’m just proud of the community I work for. The kids are receptive and kind, and I am honored to be able to mentor many students and help them shape their futures.

“A student once asked why I was ‘so popular’ at New Trier and I told him it was because I know magic and I can make you believe in yourself. I’m rooting for you and I’m on your side.”

Owens is a sponsor of New Trier’s African American Community Club and Foster Reading and Tutoring Club in addition to his position as a member of the security staff. He has served on the district’s equity committee, volunteered with the student council, and according to the district, he often collaborates with administration to offer perspective and experience in how the school can be a better place for all students and staff.

This is not the first honor for Owens, who received the Excellence Award in the Educational Service Personnel category for ISBE’s 2022 Those Who Excel program.

“I am thrilled that the Illinois State Board of Education and Governor Pritzker have chosen to recognize Johnny Owens’ extraordinary contributions to education and to New Trier High School,” Superintendent Paul Sally said. “Johnny truly goes above and beyond every day to connect with students and staff and to build a warm, welcoming culture at New Trier.” 

Find more information on the RISE Award here.

5 stars for Wilmette Public Library

For the fourth consecutive year, Wilmette Public Library has been awarded Five Stars in Library Journal’s annual evaluation of public libraries.

Wilmette Public Library again ranked among the top 10 libraries nationwide with annual budgets of $5 million-$9.9 million. According to a press release from the library, it holds the highest e-material circulation (11.08 per capita) and wi-fi sessions (32.10 per capita) for any library in its category. The library also ranked highly in physical circulation (18 per capita) and library visits (8.32 per capita). 

“We are delighted to again receive this recognition of our commitment to excellent service,” said Anthony Auston, library director, in the release. “The Wilmette and Kenilworth community’s continued support and enthusiasm for our library inspires us to continue to reach higher. We are honored to be a valued and trusted local resource and to be nationally recognized for it.”

Wilmette Public Library was among 5,359 libraries reviewed in the competition based on 2020 statistics. Of the 258 libraries to achieve star ratings, 42 were from Illinois. Elmhurst, Oak Park, Elk Grove, Northbrook, Cook Memorial (Libertyville), Ela Area (Lake Zurich), Downers Grove, and Des Plaines public libraries also earned a five-star rating.

Residents have right answers to support Wilmette 39 schools at trivia night

More than $12,000 was raised from more than 220 participants at the District 39 Educational Foundation’s 10th annual trivia night on Nov. 12, according to a press release from the D39 Educational Foundation. 

An in-person event for the first time in two years, the event reportedly benefits the foundation’s grant-making to D39 schools.

Twenty-two teams competed for two rounds of trivia and vied for the most creative theme and costume. The top trivia team of the night was “The Monopolizers,” a team dressed as Monopoly figures, while “Last But Not The Least (aka The Last Supper)” was crowned Best in Show.

“It is great to be able to gather again in person, seeing the creativity and energy of our community, coming out to have fun and raise funds for our schools’ emerging needs,” said Carolin Huh, foundation trustee and event planning committee co-chairperson, in a press release. 

“The foundation relies on these funds for our grant program, which are awarded in the spring and fall to enrich the learning environment in our local schools,” said Carla Benigni, also a co-chairperson of the committee.

Trivia Night event chairperson Trevor Jesse noted that net proceeds benefit the Foundation‘s Gripp Grant program, which supports educational programs, experiences and technologies that complement the schools’ curricula. 

The Record is a nonprofit, nonpartisan community newsroom that relies on reader support to fuel its independent local journalism.

Subscribe to The Record to fund responsible news coverage for your community.

Already a subscriber? You can make a tax-deductible donation at any time.


This article was developed using publicly available information, such as press releases, municipal records and social media posts.

Related Stories