Thursday, July 28, 2016

Morton High school receives National Honors as District of the Year

Bookmark and Share

Morton High school receives National Honors as District of the Year

J. Sterling Morton High School named District of the Year for Advanced Placement by the National College Board in a recent evaluation of more than 6,000 campuses. Morton was selected from more than 450 schools that were credited with AP achievements.

J. Sterling Morton High school District 201 in west suburban Chicago was named “District of the Year” by College Board Advanced Placement, a national education association representing more than 6,000 educational institutions around the country.

Morton was selected from all school districts across the nation that participate in the AP program. More than 21,000 high schools take part in Advanced Placement testing.

Morton High school, which has two campuses in Cicero and in Berwyn, Illinois, has 2,350 students who are currently enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) classes through the collaboration between College Board and Morton.

“We are very proud of our students and staff and this achievement which once again proves that Morton High school is one of the best educational institutions in the Midwest and Illinois,” said the Jeff Pesek, president of the Morton High School Board.

“This award is a reflection of all of their hard work and dedication. District leadership will continue to work hard to ensure that every student continues to succeed.”

Morton High school District 201 named District of the Year by College Board, 2016

Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and instruction at the College Board, said the award is an important educational achievement.

“This award shows that the teachers and administrators at Morton are challenging students to achieve at the highest levels,” Packer said.

“They are succeeding in helping students attain the benefits of the AP Program — to gain confidence, learn to craft effective arguments, earn credit for college, and eventually graduate from college on time. The College Board applauds the district’s leadership to ensure that a more diverse population of students is prepared to succeed in college.”

College Board is an American private non-profit organization that was formed in December 1899 as the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) to expand access to higher education. It runs a membership association of institutions, including over 6,000 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations. College Board develops and administers standardized tests and curricula used by K–12 and post-secondary education institutions to promote college-readiness and as part of the college admissions process.

Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools.

The competition for placement was intense, Pesek said, but added, “Our students academically are up to the challenge and are proud to showcase their educational abilities.”

Of 21,000 high schools that participated in the AP Program this year, Morton was one of 425 school districts across the U.S. and Canada that achieved placement on the annual AP District Honor Roll. From this list, three AP Districts of the Year — one for each category of district population size: small, medium, and large — were selected based on an analysis of three academic years of AP data.

From 2013 to 2015, J. Sterling Morton School District:

Simultaneously and continuously increased the number of students taking AP classes while improving successful outcomes (a score of 3 or higher out of 5 points) on AP Exams, with 33 percent of all AP students scoring a 3 or higher in 2015;

Increased student participation in AP by 19 percent annually and the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 7 percent annually; and

Increased the percentage of traditionally underrepresented minority AP students earning a 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam by 9 percent annually — an increase of 266 students since 2013. (80 percent or more of the AP students in J. Sterling Morton School District is American Indian, African American, or Hispanic/Latino. In addition, over 90 percent or more of the AP students in the district qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.)

Increasing access to AP course work while simultaneously increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher out of 5 points is the ideal scenario for a district’s AP program, indicating that the district is successfully preparing a larger array of its students for the rigor of AP and college studies.

Participating in AP course work can also lead to college savings for families because the typical student who scores a 3 or higher on two AP Exams has the potential to save, on average, $1,779 at a public four-year college and over $6,000 at a private institution.

Morton High school was presented with the honor in Anaheim, California during the 2016 AP Annual Conference held this month.

In 2015, more than 3,900 colleges and universities around the world received AP scores for college credit, advanced placement, and/or consideration in the admission process, with many colleges and universities in the U.S. offering credit in one or more subjects for qualifying AP scores.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Suburban mayors honor Cicero’s Larry Dominick for public service

Bookmark and Share

Suburban mayors honor Cicero’s Larry Dominick for public service

The West Central Municipal Conference (WCMC) presented Cicero Town President Larry Dominick with one of its most prestigious public service awards at a formal banquet on Friday (May 8, 2015).

Nearly 500 people attended the banquet at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center hosted by the WCMC which represents 44 public and government entities in the West suburban Chicagoland region.

Also honored at the event were Cook County Commissioner and McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski, and Lyons Village President Christopher Getty who was elected the organizations’ new president.

Dominick was presented with the prestigious “Donald E. Stephens Award of Excellence,” which is given to one regional official each year for proven exemplary public service.

“President Dominick has done much to provide services to his residents and including to Senior Citizens,” Getty said in presenting the award.

In accepting his award, Dominick said, “I am proud to receive this honor from the West Central Municipal Conference. This organization provides enormous support to the communities in the West Suburbs and is a voice for advocating for the needs of our residents and taxpayers. I’m proud to be here and will continue to serve my constituents expanding services during these times of tight budgets for our youth, our families and especially our senior citizens who have worked so hard to support their communities.”

Elected President of the Town of Cicero in 2005, Dominick has transformed the community significantly, increasing services to youth, families and seniors, while also hiring more professional Fire and Police officers

“When I was first elected, we had more than 16 street gang related killings. It’s something that as a former police officer and deputy police commissioner I was committed to addressing and changing to make Cicero safer for its residents,” Dominick explained.

Noting that street gang activity has dropped significantly during the past decade in Cicero, Dominick said, “We have only had one street gang related killing in the past 30 months. That comes from understanding how to respond to street gangs and also engaging the community in public events and activities.”

Cicero is also known as being one of the Midwest’s most “Senior Citizen friendly” communities.

“We do a lot for our senior citizens because they have done a lot for us as a society,” Dominick explained following the event.

“We provide free transportation to and from not only doctor visits and grocery store visits but also for social events. We shovel their snow and mow their lawns. We provide grants to help them with home improvements and we have a handyman program that assists with everyday home needs. Seniors are very important and we take their needs seriously.”

As a former Police Officer, Dominick recognizes that overcoming street gangs requires getting residents involved in their neighborhoods. Dominick engages the public through high profile public services and special events targeting families and seniors intended to bring them out of their homes.

“Street gangs thrive on communities that live in fear forcing residents to shut themselves in their homes,” Dominick explains. “When the public gets involved, they can make a difference. But we must give them the support they need to be involved.”

Dominick also implemented an aggressive anti-graffiti program and founded programs such as the “Parent Patrols” in which parental volunteers walk with school children before and after school. He expanded the Town’s Parks, hired more police officers, and coordinated reading programs with local schools.

With safer neighborhoods and streets, businesses from around the country and state relocated to Cicero. Included among more than two dozen businesses that have opened in Cicero are Wirtz Beverage Illinois, Wal-Mart, Menards, Sonic, Fullers, and Clover Hill Bakery, creating more than 1,500 new jobs.

The WCMC event is considered one of the most important governmental events in the region and attracts a huge following of elected officials and activists.

Attending the event were regional representatives including State Senator and Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek, State Rep. Lisa Hernandez and State Rep. Silvana Tabares. Also in attendance were State Rep. Kathy Willis, Elmwood Park Mayor and Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri, Lyons Township Supervisor Bill Mundy, and Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough.

Officials and members of the WCMC also celebrated the achievements of several other municipal and government leaders including 16th District Cook County Commissioner and McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski, who was recognized for his efforts on behalf of veterans.

Officers elected along with Getty include Western Springs President William Rodeghier as vice president, River Grove Mayor Marilyn May as Treasurer, and as Directors Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero, Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone, River Forest President Catherine Adduci, Tobolski, Northlake Mayor Jeffrey Sherwin, Westchester Mayor Sam Pulia, Hillside Village Administrator Russ Wajda and Western Springs Village Manager Patrick R. Higgins.

Dominick was accompanied by Town officials including Trustee Dennis Raleigh and Cicero Town Attorney Michael Del Galdo, as well as with his two sons, Derek and Brian.

“President Dominick is very deserving of this recognition from the West Central Municipal Conference,” said municipal attorney Michael Del Galdo whose clients include Cicero.

“In his 10  years in office, President Dominick has quietly gone about refacing the Town of Cicero with new economic development and new programs for children and senior citizens.  His programs and anti-crime initiatives has made Cicero a great environment to live and raise a family.  What is most remarkable is that President Dominick has created the "New Cicero" without raising taxes and while shrinking the Town's debt."  For those of us that know Larry Dominick and how much he cares about the residents of Cicero, it's rewarding to see him recognized for his hard work."

Dominick has dedicated his life to Public Service in the Town of Cicero where he has lived more than 50 years. After taking an entry-level position in the Cicero Streets Department, Dominick worked his way up over 6 years to management. He later joined the Cicero Police Department where he rose to the rank of First Deputy Police Superintendent and retired after 20 years of service.

Dominick resumed his public service to the residents of the Town of Cicero when he was elected as Cicero Town President. Sworn into office on May 10, 2005, Dominick celebrates his 10th anniversary this month and third term as the Chief Executive Officer of one of Illinois’ largest municipalities.

Dominick created a program to hire the disabled, and launched a job-training program for senior citizens and individuals in need. He built the Town’s Animal Shelter, which saves thousands of abandoned pets every year and adopts them into new homes.

Dominick built a Senior Center and expanded the Senior Services Department to provide a wide-range of services including mowing lawns, shoveling sidewalks, and providing minor household repairs through a Town Handyman Program. Luncheons for seniors often bring out more than 800 attendees. Seniors receive many free Town services including transportation, home gutter cleaning, window washing, and garbage collection. They can apply for $500-a-year in major home repair reimbursements.

Dominick expanded services without raising taxes by implementing sound financial strategies. As a result, Cicero has received top national honors in financial reporting procedures five-years in a row from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). Under Dominick, Cicero maintains a strong A-Plus (A+) rating from Standard & Poors.

When Dominick assumed the presidency in 2005, the Town was saddled with $148.1 million in outstanding debts, or about $1,765.68 per Cicero resident. Last year, the debt was reduced by 42%, to $85.9 million, or $1,024.25 per Cicero resident.  By the end of Dominick's current term in 2017, the total debt will be reduced by 53.4% to $69 million, or $823.03 per resident. By 2021, total indebtedness is projected to be reduced 78% to $32.4 million, or $386.69 per resident.

A graduate of Morton East High School, Dominick attended Morton Community College before beginning his service to the Town of Cicero. Dominick has volunteered his time with the Berwyn/Cicero Youth Baseball League and has served on the Cicero Police Pension Board and the Morton 201 High School District Board.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Señorita Cicero Dafne Villasenor discusses bullying with students at Unity Jr. High and Cicero East and West

Bookmark and Share

Señorita Cicero Dafne Villasenor discusses bullying with students at Unity Jr. High and Cicero East and West

A victim of bullying herself, Senorita Cicero 2014, Dafne Villasenor made it her platform to address it, and bring awareness to this silent but destructive behavior that is destroying many young lives. Dafne has been visiting many schools in the Town of Cicero bringing awareness to many children on how bullying can destroy the lives of not just the victim but also the perpetrator. She explained many forms of bullying from cyber social media, to verbal, and physical abuse. 

"This is an epidemic that is destroying our children and it must stop, and it begins with every individual one child at a time." she added. 

Dafne continued her presentation with facts and fugues which ultimately led to suicide in some cases.. She concluded her talk on how she over came from being victimized by a positive attitude, accepting oneself for who they are as a human being, and surrounding herself with people who care. 

Dafne Villasenor is finishing her education at Morton College and plans to continue studying at the University of Illinois majoring in business administration.    


Monday, April 20, 2015

Cicero finances continue to improve

Bookmark and Share

Cicero finances continue to improve

When Larry Dominick assumed the presidency of the Town of Cicero in 2005, the Town was saddled with outstanding indebtedness of $148.1 million, equal to a debt obligation of $1,765.68 per Cicero resident, according to the Town of Cicero Finance Department Director Don Schultz.

At the end of 2014 President Dominick has reduced this debt by 42%, to $85.9 million, or $1,024.25 per Cicero resident.  By the end of President Dominick's present term in 2017, total outstanding debt will be reduced by 53.4% to $69 million, or $823.03 per resident.

By the end of 2021, total indebtedness will be reduced by 78% to $32.4 million, or $386.69 per resident

"President Dominick's charge has been clear: 'Do not spend money you do not have and do not straddle future generations with present day debt’,” Schultz said.

Since 2005 and the administration of Larry Dominick, the Town of Cicero has not incurred any long term outstanding debt, but has instead worked to reduce and carefully eliminate the indebtedness incurred by prior administrations and to provide necessary and current services with available resources.

In furtherance of the Dominick administration's efforts to bring relief to Cicero taxpayers, the President and Town Board have passed along $80.8 million in property tax abatements since 2005.  These tax abatements lessened the tax burden by providing alternative sources of debt repayment without applying such payments to the tax bills of Cicero residents and businesses.

Dominick expanded services without raising taxes by implementing sound financial strategies. As a result, Cicero has received top national honors in financial reporting procedures five-years in a row from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). Under Dominick, Cicero maintains a strong A-Plus (A+) rating from Standard & Poors.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Man charged Sunday in beating death of 18-month old Cicero toddler

Bookmark and Share

Man charged Sunday in beating death of 18-month old Cicero toddler

Martin Alvarado Jr., 23, charged in the
murder of 18 month old Edwin Eli O'Reilly
On Thursday April 9, 2015 the Cicero Police and Fire Dept. responded to a call of an unresponsive child in a home in the 1600 block of 49th Court. Edwin Eli O’Reilly, 18 months old, was rushed to MacNeal Hospital where the child succumbed to injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Cicero Police Detectives learned through a tireless investigative process that the child was in the care of 23 year old defendant, Martin Alvarado Jr. of the 1600 block of 49th Ct. Alvarado Jr. was identified as the boyfriend of the victim’s mother.

During the time the child was in the care and custody of defendant Alvarado Jr., the child was crying and suffered from loose bowel movements, investigators learned. As the defendant was in the process of changing the young victim’s diapers, the child urinated on Alvarado Jr.. This enraged the defendant and Alvarado Jr., who struck the baby multiple times about the body causing the child's death.  

During interviews with Cicero Police through Sunday, Alvarado Jr. made incriminating statements and gave a video-taped confession of his actions that caused the death of the child.

Police charged Martin Alvarado Jr., 23, was subsequently charged with First Degree Murder and is due in Bond Court on Monday morning, April 13, at the Maybrook Court House in Maywood Illinois.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cicero moves to develop Comprehensive Development Plan

Bookmark and Share

_A0A7332The Town of Cicero held its second public meeting to invite members of the public to offer their ideas and comments on the development of a new comprehensive plan for the development of the Town of Cicero.

The Cicero Comprehensive Plan is a citywide effort to update the Town’s existing comprehensive plan and provide the vision, goals and objectives for guiding the future of the community.

The meeting was held at the Cicero Community Center on March 11. The proposed Comprehensive Plan would explore what should and should not be developed in different areas of the Town, based on community input and leadership suggestions. It would be the first plan of its kind developed for Cicero since 1974 said Cicero Project Manager Craig Pesek.

"A Comprehensive Plan gives the Town direction for the future," Pesek said.
"It highlights areas that need attention, assets of the community, opportunities and helps the Town to focus its resources in the right areas."

Pesek said one of the most important aspects of a successful Comprehensive Plan is "community buy-in."

"A plan is only as good as those who work to implement it and support it..I am very proud of how active the Cicero community has been in this process," Pesek said.

For more information, visit:

Project Manager Craig Pesek discusses how the Comprehensive Plan development program will work
Project Manager Craig Pesek discusses how the Comprehensive Plan development program will work
The Comprehensive Plan seeks input from residents of Cicero and participants reviewed an discussed options they favor
The Comprehensive Plan seeks input from residents of Cicero and participants reviewed an discussed options they favor
The Comprehensive Plan seeks input from residents of Cicero and participants reviewed an discussed options they favor
The Comprehensive Plan seeks input from residents of Cicero and participants reviewed an discussed options they favor

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Difficult winter for many families

Bookmark and Share

Difficult winter for many families

By Larry Dominick

Despite the late snow coming in February, this has still been a very difficult winter for many.

The heavy snows we experienced earlier in the month made it challenging for both residents and municipal snow removal crews, not just in Cicero but in communities across the state. The snow falls set new records and this winter has been recorded as one of the top five worst we’ve experienced in a half century.

But Cicero’s public employees worked hard. I know because I participated in helping to remove snow from our streets. It was a job that required working long, hard and even overnight. In fact, we worked 24 hours a day for 8 straight days to remove snow from our streets.

One of our biggest challenges in plowing the neighborhood streets after clearing main streets was the failure of some homeowners to move their vehicles from posted street cleaning routes. Worse was the practice of some to shovel their snow off their properties and off of their cars into the streets.

I am proud of the performance of our employees. It was a difficult challenge and they did well. I also want to thank all of those residents who took the time not only to clear their sidewalks and properties of snow, but who also showed neighborly care and shoveled snow for neighbors in need.

With the arctic cold slamming our region in the aftermath of these record snow storms, I again remind everyone to take a moment and check on your neighbors, especially if they are elderly or have family members who are disabled.

When we all work together and show concern for our community and our neighbors, we can make our community a better place for all.

COUNTY TAX BILLS: Your First installment of your tax bills are due on March 3. The first installment notices from Cook County do not reflect exemptions such as those for homeowners and senior citizens. The first installment is just an estimate representing 55 percent of last year’s bills.

If you have any questions about your property taxes, you can find help right here in the Town of Cicero by contacting Town Assessor Emilio Cundari at

TOWN EVENTS: I know many people are interested in the programs we sponsor at the Town of Cicero including celebrations of our ethnic diversity from Columbus Day and President’s Day and Pulaski Day to the annual commemoration of the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King., Jr., and Mexican Independence Day.

To keep up on our events, I urge you to visit our Facebook Page at

FINALLY: I spend a lot of time driving through our Town. I want to know firsthand what is happening. The other day, while driving around, I was right behind a motorist who opened his window and threw out a bag of garbage right on the street. I pulled him over and demanded to know why he would do that. He lived right down the street.

We need to be proud of our community and our neighborhoods and it starts with each and every one of us.

I hope you have a safe and happy Winter as we all work together in anticipation of improved Spring weather.

(Larry Dominick is the President of the Town of Cicero. He was elected in 2005.)