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Celebrating Ties Between Northwestern, ETHS

Partnership office opens at Evanston Township High School

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September 7, 2012 | by Wendy Leopold
Officials cut ribbon
Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and ETHS Superintendent Eric Witherspoon cut the ribbon to open the new partnership coordinator office. Photo by Jim Prisching

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University and Evanston Township High School (ETHS) have enjoyed a long history of collaboration. Yesterday (Sept. 6) the two institutions formalized and strengthened their relationship at a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the establishment of the Northwestern/ETHS Partnership Office at ETHS and an NU/ETHS partnership coordinator.

Funded by Northwestern, the high school-based partnership coordinator will facilitate connections between ETHS and Northwestern, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro of the collaboration that will take “a truly great high school and make it a preeminent school in the nation.” Taking greater advantage of the abundant resources of Northwestern, it will provide high school students cutting-edge learning and create new STEM opportunities rarely available to high school students.

President Schapiro, ETHS Superintendent Eric Witherspoon and Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl officially opened the new office at ETHS, which boasts a Northwestern purple wall and giant photo of the gateway to the Evanston campus. Its prime location -- across from the high school’s Main Office, adjacent to its main lobby and connected to the superintendent’s office -- symbolizes the importance of the strengthened relationship between the two institutions, Witherspoon said.

Kristen Perkins -- who works in Northwestern’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) and is already known to ETHS faculty for work she did on science literacy at the high school -- serves as the first partnership coordinator.

Superintendent Witherspoon spoke of “dozens and dozens” of already existing Northwestern/ETHS collaborations. They include Reach for the Stars, which places Northwestern graduate students into three ETHS science classrooms for a full academic year; Kits ‘n’ Cats@NU, a day at Northwestern designed to increase college awareness and access for ETHS students who have not yet decided to attend college; and FUSE, an after-school program that introduces fun, hands-on STEM challenges to students who have yet to show an affinity for STEM subjects.

Before cutting the purple ribbon in front of the new office, Northwestern President Schapiro and Evanston Mayor Tisdahl stressed the importance of the quality of K-12 education to a community. Enhancing the quality of Evanston’s public schools is both “the right thing to do” and enlightened self-interest, Schapiro said. “A strong, vibrant Evanston makes for a strong, vibrant Northwestern University.”

“Evanston is a diverse town with diverse opinions but what holds us together is our ability to agree on the importance of K-12 education,” said Mayor Tisdahl. Northwestern’s decision to enhance learning at ETHS is, she added, “the absolutely right decision.”

“Today is not the (partnership’s) culmination,” said Superintendent Witherspoon. “Today is the first step.”