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Ribbon Cutting at Sullivan High for The Ellen Glasser Global Center


Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Alderman Maria Hadden (49th) were among the dignitaries who attended Sullivan High School’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Monday, June 17th, commemorating the opening of the new Ellen Glasser Global Center.

The center occupies what had been the school library – a tired and worn space with a hodgepodge of mismatched furniture. The new Global Center will serve a vital purpose – as a focal point of the school’s burgeoning and diverse refugee and immigrant student body. Sullivan students represent over 40 countries and speak 50 languages. The Global Center is designed to support English Learning students and give them a ‘safe space’ for studying, socializing and working in small groups.

A year ago, Sullivan’s Principal Chad Adams asked the school's new nonprofit group, Friends of Sullivan, to lead the charge. FOS took on the challenge, raising funds and transforming the library into the Global Center – a dignified, fully-restored room with new carpeting and modern, adaptable furniture that would maximize comfort and learning experiences for students. (Friends of Sullivan is a group formed by engaged community members to support Sullivan and name possible funding for much needed opportunities and equity for its students.)

The entire FOS Board worked energetically to complete the room on schedule. With a few weeks to go, and seeing that they would complete their goal, the Board voted unanimously to dedicate the room in honor of Ellen Glasser, the mother Michael Glasser, President of both Friends of Sullivan and the Rogers Park Builders Group. This is especially apt as Ellen Glasser was, herself, a refugee.

By coincidence, the June 17th date of the Ribbon Cutting commemorated 31 years to the day that Ellen passed away.

“This is a tremendous way to honor a wonderful woman,” said Ellen’s daughter, Pam Weston, who spoke eloquently about her mother at the ribbon cutting. Pam expressed her confidence that Ellen’s message – coming from a young refugee high school student who, over seventy years ago, experienced similar hardships as a child – would motivate today’s refugee students.

Pam proudly points to the plaque mounted adjacent to the Center’s front door, bearing a few of Ellen’s quotes written just prior to her death in 1988: “Look for the good in life, enjoy it. If you are down, go help someone. Make yourself useful. Enjoy people. Love your family."

Sullivan has a long history of welcoming refugees and immigrants to the school. In May 2016, Chicago Magazine published a well-received article entitled “Welcome to Refugee High” by journalist Elly Fishman.


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