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District 65 Receives National and State Recognition for Communications and Community Relations Work

District 65 Receives National and State Recognition for Communications and Community Relations Work

Evanston/Skokie District 65 was awarded one of the most prestigious awards in educational communications this summer from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA).

“Student Assignment Planning: Fostering Equity and Access in Education” campaign was selected from multiple entries submitted from across the country to receive the 2022 Golden Achievement Award for outstanding communication and engagement efforts. Winning entries were recognized during the NSPRA 2022 National Seminar from July 17 through July 20 in Chicago.

Additionally, District 65 won three awards for its communications and engagement efforts from the Illinois Chapter/National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA).

  • Student Assignment Planning Hype Video - Deb Keegan, Melissa Messinger, Sarita Smith, Tania Margonza, Student Assignment Planning Hype Video
  • MIRACLES in Action: December 2021 Report to the Community - Melissa Messinger; Deb Keegan
  • Student Assignment Planning: Fostering Equity and Access in Education - Deb Keegan, Tania Margonza, Melissa Messinger, Sarita Smith, Stephanie Veloz.

Winners will be honored at the INSPRA award ceremony to be held Sept. 9 in Oak Brook. The district is among dozens of professional school communicators who will be honored from across the state. Each entry is evaluated by judges against a rubric of excellence, with awards given to those that scored within the established ranges for merit and excellence.

“Our communications department focuses all year on showing the many ways District 65 uses its resources to help students and families,” said Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton. “These projects are excellent examples of that work,” he said.

For the national award, according to NSPRA’s website, the organization’s “Golden Achievement Award” recognizes outstanding, strategic work in all aspects of school public relations, communication, marketing and engagement.
In spring 2021, District 65 embarked on the first phase of a multiyear process to develop a comprehensive Student Assignment Plan to modernize its structure and address historic inequities that most significantly impact students of color. The process included updating school attendance boundaries, a selection process for magnet schools/programs, and the potential to return a school to the Fifth Ward community.

Despite changes to enrollment, student demographics, academic services and programs, the district had not reviewed attendance boundaries holistically or recommended changes in nearly 30 years.

After more than a year of community engagement and communications efforts, the school board approved a new student assignment plan in March 2022, along with a funding plan to build a school in Evanston’s Fifth Ward. The earliest the new plan will go into effect will be the 2024-2025 school year.

“We are honored to be selected for the Golden Achievement Award, which encompasses the hard work and dedication of so many within D65,” said Melissa Messinger, executive director of communications. “We knew the potential impact of student assignment planning on our community and the need for a robust, inclusive stakeholder-driven process. It is rewarding to have our team recognized for its efforts but even more so to know that the new plan will positively affect so many of our students and families for generations to come.”