Thursday, November 20, 2014

Social Worker’s Thanksgiving Tradition Helps Children of Addicts

For most students, next week’s Thanksgiving break will be a time for family gatherings filled with good food and wonderful memories. For students who have family members struggling with alcoholism or drug abuse, however, time at home can be extraordinarily stressful.

“Holidays and long weekends are dreaded by these kids,” said Social Worker Janet Sushinski. “The dysfunction they face at home or at a relative’s house is a real challenge for them.”

For most of her 20 years at Stevenson, Sushinski has provided a positive Thanksgiving experience for students in the Children Of Addicts support group, one of 15 support groups offered by Stevenson’s Student Services Division. On the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, she brings the group together for a midday meal filled with turkey, stuffing, potatoes and other treats.

In addition to food, there are games, conversation, and a brief talk from one of the students (typically a senior) who gives a short talk about why they are there and what the meal means. They eat, they laugh and sometimes they cry, but unlike at home, there’s no waiting for the other shoe to drop. Here, they are safe.

“Our goal is to provide them a role model for what Thanksgiving should be like,” she said.

This year, between 15 and 20 people are expected to attend, about half of them current students and half alumni who once belonged to the group.

“This is the highlight of the year for some of these kids,” said Sushinski, who has been a social worker for 28 years, 20 of them at Stevenson. “It becomes a real sense of family, between the students who are here and the alumni who come back. This year, we’ve even got one alum who’s rearranging her exam schedule so she can make it. This is their sober family.”

When Sushinski started working at Stevenson, the Children of Addicts group didn’t exist but she soon saw the need for one.  Early in her tenure, she attended a conference and heard about the Thanksgiving meal idea, and decided to give it a try.

From the beginning, the meal has been a labor of love for Sushinski and the Student Services Division, which includes the school’s counselors, deans, social workers, nurses, registrars and others. They bring in side dishes, sweets and drinks, and will take care of preparing and cleaning up in the College/Career Center, where the meal is held. Until the last couple of years, Sushinski’s father and stepmother cooked the turkey. Now, all the hot food is prepared by Sunset Foods, which is owned by the family of the school’s Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator, Cristina Cortesi.

The group draws students from a broad range of backgrounds, underlining the ubiquity of substance abuse.

“Our students are from across the board,” Sushinski said. “We have high-achievers, kids who are barely getting by, and everything in between.”

The group meets regularly to talk about the challenges and the frustrations that come with having a family member who is addicted to alcohol or drugs — or who is trying to stay sober.

“No matter what their background is, these kids have a lot in common because of the addiction,” she said. “They share the same struggles and they speak the same lingo. Kids will say at the end of the year that this group was the thing that saved them. It’s what keeps them going through the year.”

Health Teachers Giving Presentation in St. Charles

Health teachers Tom Loew and Chad Dauphin will give a presentation today on “New Ideas and Activities in Health Education” at the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance’s annual conference in St. Charles.

Stained Glass Window Feedback Deadline Extended

The deadline to provide feedback on the stained glass window designs has been extended to Wednesday.


Click here to see today’s athletic schedule

Follow us on Twitter: @aeshssports

Carmichael Selected for Diving Coaches Hall of Fame

Stevenson girls diving coach Don Carmichael will be inducted into the Illinois Swimming and Diving Coaches Association Hall of Fame on December 8. Carmichael has been named the state’s top diving coach four times, in 1998, 2006, 2007 and 2009, and has coached two state champions: Jessie Mowrer (1998) and Kerrin Seymour (2006 and 2009). Carmichael has served as the school’s girls diving coach since 1985, and also was the boys diving coach from 1985-1998. In 2011, he was inducted into the Lake County High Schools Sports Hall of Fame.

State Semifinal Football Notes

TribLocal writes about the Marchese family’s impact on SHS football. First came Joe, a 2013 graduate who now plays on the offensive line for the University of Maryland. Now, the Patriot roster includes senior Jimmy, an inside linebacker, and sophomore twins Henry and Michael. Henry has been part of the varsity receiving corps all season, while Michael was just added to the expanded playoff roster. … No shuttle service will be available from alternate parking lots to the Glenbard West campus on Saturday, so SHS fans are advised to carpool and arrive early. … Two members of the SHS coaching staff are Glenbard West graduates: Josh Hjorth and Erik Jensen. … Glenbard West has won two football state championships. The Hilltoppers captured the Class 7A crown in 2012 and the 5A title in 1983. Glenbard West also has two runner-up finishes.


Help SWAT Celebrate the Great American Smokeout

Stop by the Wood Commons during all lunch periods today to help celebrate the Great American Smokeout. The SHS SWAT Team (Students Working Against Tobacco) will be present, along with a representative from the American Cancer Society. The Great American Smokeout event encourages smokers to make this the day to quit or make a plan to quit. You’ll also be able to sign-up for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, which will be held next June.

FMP Mentor Informational Meetings on Friday

Sophomores and juniors interested in being student mentors in the FMP program during the 2015-16 school year are invited to attend an informational meeting during all lunch periods in the Recital Hall on Friday.

Pep Bus Available for Saturday’s Football Game

A pep bus will be available for students who want to attend Stevenson’s IHSA Class 8A state football semifinal game at Glenbard West on Saturday. Students who want to ride the bus must turn in a completed permission form (click here to download) and $10 to cover the cost of a game ticket and transportation. Presale tickets are available through Friday in the Superstore for $6. The Superstore is open before school and during the lunch periods.

Give Your Feedback on Stained Glass Window Designs

All students are invited to provide feedback on the design proposals for the stained glass window that will be installed over the Sports Center entrance next semester as part of the school’s 50th anniversary. You can stop by the ILC and offer feedback on design proposals through next Wednesday. Bring your iPad to complete the online survey, which will offer the Steering Committee valuable feedback as it moves forward with the hiring process.

Find Out Science Opportunities Available for Students

For information on upcoming science events, contests, career exploration, awards and scholarships outside of SHS for students, please visit the science web page and click on the “Student Opportunities” link to the right.

Testing Center Closing Early Next Wednesday

The Testing Center will close at 2:30 on Wednesday.


Heard stories about pit bulls? Think all pit bulls are aggressive? Animal Welfare Club invites you to come hear a presentation from “It’s a Pittie Rescue,” an animal rescue group for pit bulls. Learn more about pit bulls and interact with a pit bull that is a certified therapy dog. We will be meeting after school Tuesday in Room 2115.

Chinese Club invites you to play Mahjong, an authentic and popular game in China. Come enjoy the game and Chinese food with us in Room 2812 on Tuesday from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

The Speech and Drama Team meets at 3:45 today in the East ILC.

Chess Club meets today in Room 7022. Meetings run from 3:30 to approximately 5 p.m.

Law Club meets today at 3:45 in Room 7054.

Table Tennis meets today in the Lower East Commons from 3:30-6:30.

Pass on the Beat meets today after school in the Band Room.


The Stevenson Center on Democracy is looking for a media specialist intern. This position will be responsible for editing HD digital content and creating short- and full- length programming for the web and for DVDs. The student must have access to good HD digital editing equipment. The pay is $10 per hour. Please contact Mrs. Willock at or in the College/Career Center if interested.

A busy chiropractic clinic is looking for a part-time front desk coordinator as soon as possible. Visit the Student Job Connection web page to find out more and check out all the part-time and seasonal jobs available for students.

Now accepting career shadow applications for 2014-15: Career shadows are available to students throughout the year. If you are interested in learning first hand about a specific career, please email Mrs. Willock at to set up an appointment.


Preseason softball workouts are being held from 6:30-7:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Cardio Room. All skill levels are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information, contact Coach Vikartofsky at or visit


Report says Illinois schools making progress, but not enough

Barrington, Elk Grove, Gurnee districts honored for digital learning programs

Campus debate about racism at University of Chicago leads to ugly Facebook hack

Aldermen turn up heat on CPS bond deals; public jeers school board chief

Teacher reprimanded over survey plans run for Batavia school board

NIU professor named Illinois Professor of the Year

Harper, College of Lake County going smoke-free January 1


Gunman killed, 3 students wounded in Florida State University shooting

Washington state school district tries arming administrators to protect students

What California’s college tuition hike says about the future of higher education

Colleges’ prestige doesn’t guarantee a top-flight learning experience

Principal’s retweet triggers student walkout in Virginia


The Daily Digest is compiled and edited by Jim Conrey. To subscribe or unsubscribe, contact him at

Comments are closed.