Taft seeks names of alumni killed in military action for memorial





by BRIAN NADIG

The Taft High School Alumni Association is seeking the names of Taft graduates who died while fighting for the U.S. military.

The names will be placed on a planned veterans memorial which will be installed on the north side of the school and include a fountain and a “Taft Eagle” overlooking the names. An update on project was given at the Sept. 12 meeting of the Taft High School Local School Council.

The association has identified 33 Taft alumni who were killed during World War II and is researching other wars. Taft opened in 1939, two years before the United States entered World War II.

“We went through every yearbook during the Korean War years, and no Korean veterans,” association president Anne Lunde told the LSC. Those with information about Taft veterans who were killed in the Vietnam and subsequent wars are asked to contact Lunde at alundewriter@gmail.com.

Also at the meeting, it was reported that the school recently received results from the SAT college entrance exam which the school’s juniors took last spring. In 2017 the Illinois Board of Education switched from using the ACT exam to the SAT as its accountability exam that it requires juniors to take.

Taft’s average score was 983 out of 1,600 compared to the citywide average of 956. The state average was 1,018.

Also last spring, Taft’s freshmen took the Preliminary SAT. The Taft average score was 886, while the state average was 888, and the city average was 848.

It also was reported that the school system is still considering an offer by an Irish football league to install a new athletic field at Taft in exchange for letting the league use the field on Sundays. About a year ago the school system had plans to pay for an artificial playing surface at Taft, but those plans were dropped.

Assistance principal Eric Flores said that administrators met with all students in groups of “two to three P.E. classes at a time” to discuss the school’s expectations of them and to tell them that the administration is committed to supporting students and helping them succeed. He said that the feedback from students, including the type of questions which they asked, was positive.

Students are being asked to sign contracts which includes attendance goals and other performance criteria. Those who fail to meet the goals could find themselves ineligible for the homecoming dance or prom.

Meanwhile, Flores said that he is optimistic the planned high school which is being built at Irving Park Road and Oak Park Avenue will be used as a freshman academy for Taft instead of a new 4-year high school, but that the school system has not announced a decision. He added that nothing should be assumed until “we’re walking through it and see Taft blue.”

Taft’s enrollment is about 3,360 students, about 60 more than initially projected, and the school is expected to receive extra funding due to the enrollment jump, Flores said.

Also, Taft principal Mark Grishaber, who last year was diagnosed with leukemia, is expected to return to school around the end of October following a bone marrow transplant. Flores said that Girshaber told him that “he is feeling better” and that his body is responding well to the treatment.

The next LSC meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10.