University of Illinois I-Mark






In October 2017 we announced our $10,000,000 fundraising goal to the public, in conjunction with the University of Illinois’ With Illinois campaign. We are delighted the campaign has been well received. At the midway point of the campaign schedule, Uni High donors have contributed more than 75% of our goal! This comprehensive campaign includes all gifts in support of our Innovations in Learning initiative, the teachers’ salary enhancement funds, the Parent Fund, and the Annual Fund. Several gifts in the campaign are from Legacy Society members who have allowed us to document gifts to Uni in their wills.

Our Innovations in Learning initiative continues to expand each year, modernizing learning spaces and advancing curriculum design. Our latest project is the complete transformation of the Chemistry Lab as advised by leading field experts. Innovations in Learning grants also allowed us to offer a new course this summer in Big Data.

David Frankel (Uni Class of 1976) funded grants for science teachers Dave Bergandine and Dave Stone to formulate plans for students to apply as Frankel Scholars. Frankel Scholars will be paired with University of Illinois faculty and researchers for independent study at entities such as the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NSCA). The Frankel Fund also allowed students and teachers to work with UI faculty and graduate students in the IL Geometry Lab and with the Design Department in Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

The teachers’ salary enhancement funds, initiated by the John Hedeman Fund and the John Finch M.D. (Uni Class of 1952) Fund, continue to grow as a result of new gifts each year, including from the Gruschow and Ang families. These endowed funds ensure a permanent resource for annual salary enhancement checks for all Uni teachers.

The Parent Fund and Annual Fund grew to a combined total of more than $920,000 this year, a new Uni record! The funds allow us to address the most pressing needs in day-to-day operations, including fee and book waiver scholarships, class sponsors’ and coaches’ stipends, and more.

Our long record of achievement has made us a model for public education, and this has come without the benefit of property taxes or tuition. We are grateful for your support! Enjoy some of our favorite moments from the 2017-2018 school year in this annual report.

Sincerely yours,

Jeff Walkington, Ph.D.


Uni now has four named endowed funds that yield annual salary enhancements to all teachers: the Ang Family Fund, John E. Finch M.D. ’52 Faculty Fund, Catherine ’94 and George ’95 Gruschow Fund, and the John Hedeman Endowment Fund. During Fiscal Year 2018 our teachers received more than $1,500 in addition to their annual salaries. Gifts to these specific endowment funds have reached over $1,500,000 to ensure a permanent source of additional compensation for teachers.

As a public school, Uni High receives General State Aid (GSA) per student daily attendance, amounting to $1,920,695 during the 2017-2018 academic year--accounting for 44% of school revenue. Uni High does not receive local tax revenue like other public schools, thus creating a funding gap which we fill with private gifts and grants. Teachers’, coaches’, and staff salaries and benefits account for nearly 75% of the Uni High annual budget alone. During Fiscal Year 2018 Uni parents, alumni, and friends contributed more than $920,000 in cash to the Parent Fund and Annual Fund. We also received close to $400,000 in fees from our student families, and more than $370,000 from the University’s Provost Office. Increasingly, we depend on gifts to support teacher and staff salaries, academic programs, technology, and co-curricular activities.


Uni received a record amount of over $2,000,000 in private contributions and commitments during the 2017-18 academic year. Eclipsing more than $1,500,000 in cash donations for the second year in a row was possible because 67% of Uni parents contributed a record $735,521 to the Parent Fund. Alumni and alumni parents provided more than $187,000 to the Annual Fund, an increase of more than 11% from the previous year. More than $400,000 was received for the Innovations in Learning initiative. A generous alumnus and his spouse documented a $400,000 gift in their will this year.


The Innovations in Learning program, funded by your generous donations, continues to move forward with improving Uni’s learning spaces. The 2017-18 school year saw the debut of two more transformed rooms, with 106S (right) and room 107 (the small room adjacent to 106N) transformed into active learning spaces. Room 106S has new tile and glass writing boards on the walls, a main screen with a tablet control panel and six piers (mobile work stations). The windows are covered with glare-reducing shades, and the room was fitted with new HVAC. Room 107 was converted to a breakout room, with the walls painted with magnetic whiteboard paint. The rooms are designed to encourage hands-on learning, collaboration, and social interaction. The Chemistry Lab (left) is currently being renovated as the next Innovations in Learning project.

Left: Rendering of Chemistry lab; Right, Students in room 106S


Uni High’s ReUNIon and Gala Weekend and Gala took place April 13-15. More than 200 people enjoyed tours, updates, reconnecting, the Uni High Fine Arts Department performance of Oklahoma!, and opportunities to interact with current Uni students. Our generous alumni, parents, and friends donated more than $18,000 toward our Teachers Wish List items on the night of the Gala. Wish list items are extra materials Uni High teachers desire for their classrooms. Highlights of the Gala included the introduction of the Max Beberman Memorial Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Janet Dobrovolny (’68), student project presentations, and the presentation of a $25,000 check from the Class of ’73 to be used for student fee waiver scholarships. The next ReUNIion and Gala Weekend will be in Oct. 4-6, 2019.

Left: Samantha Churovich, ‘19;

Right: Class of ‘73 with Dr. Walkington and donation check.


For the second year, alumni spent an afternoon at the school sharing their versions of life after Uni during Alumni Agora Day in April. Modeled after the legendary Uni High Agora Days, this afternoon provided students with the chance to hear from a federal public defender; dance salsa, swing and waltz; find out about careers in investing and paths to financial success; hear lessons from a million-dollar road trip; and learn about the ethics of chocolate (while making and sampling some). Our grads generously shared their passions, projects, and advice about life. The event was in conjunction with ReUNIon and Gala Weekend, which will next be held Oct. 4-6, 2019.


Janet Dobrovolny (’68) received the 2018 Max Beberman Memorial Distinguished Alumni Award. Each year the school awards an alum who exemplifies the kind of distinction Professor Max Beberman brought to Uni High. Dobrovolny graduated from Stanford University and earned her J.D. at the University of California, was admitted to the California Bar Association, served as an intern with San Francisco-area public defenders, and started her own law firm in 1979. She has been quoted in several popular books by well-known personality Suze Orman and has presented estate-planning seminars with Orman on public television throughout the country. A recognized expert on trusts and conservatorships, Janet has been the legal consultant and author behind various Orman publications and the Suze Orman Protection Portfolio software.


Helen Estabrook (’99) is the recipient of the 2018 University of Illinois Laboratory High School Rising Star Award. The award recognizes recently graduated outstanding Uni High alumni who have demonstrated leadership in their fields, service to the school, and to the community. Estabrook is an Academy Award-nominated film and television producer. Her career started with Up In the Air, starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick. She then went on to executive produce Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Demolition and Young Adult as well as other films including the recent Tully from a script by Diablo Cody and The Front Runner starring Hugh Jackman. She was the honored speaker at the Uni High Graduation in June 2018.


The music room is rarely silent, the art room is rarely empty, and the North Attic is always in some stage of hosting a production. The Fine Arts department is a critical part of Uni culture, with more than 70% of Uni students participating in visual arts, theater productions, and our many musical groups, such as orchestra, chorus, jazz band, and Madrigals. Uni had 8 Illinois Music Educator Association (ILMEA) musicians. In addition to teaching fine arts, art teacher Lisa Evans secured a grant for a summer CAD workshop involving both students and faculty, theater teacher Chris Guyotte was involved in Uni summer camps, and music teacher Rick Murphy continued his long-time involvement in the Illinois Summer Youth Music Camps.


Each year, a contingent of Uni students spends a week in Mississippi working on Habitat homes, but Uni students are active citizens all year long. This year, the Students for a Better World club responded to Hurricane Harvey by raising funds for a school in Texas. Senior Sophia Ebel held a voter registration drive as part of her senior project. TREE club, with the help of a donor, planted a pollinator garden on part of the empty lot left when Hue House and Math house were removed. And many students didn’t just walk out to protest gun violence; they arranged a “teach-in” where students could hear speakers, sign petitions, and learn more about the issue of gun violence.


From classes in writing rap to origami to computer arithmetic, Uni once again embraced the Agora Days tradition. For four days after a long weekend in February, history, English and math classes are replaced by the best that students, parents, teachers, alumni, UI, and community members have to offer. One focal point was Cultural Awareness classes, which gave students the chance to explore everything from Chinese written characters to Classical Indian Dance to Islamic theology. Food-related classes like cake decorating and Mac ‘n Cheese were popular as always, and many students worked off their kitchen adventures in the gym in a departure from the traditional P.E. curriculum as they tried out fencing, Quidditch, and martial arts.


Uni Students continued to enthusiastically pursue athletics this year, with 64% of students participating in at least one sport. Twenty-six of those students were three-sport athletes, who participated in a fall, winter and spring sport. Senior Arielle Summitt was named to the prestigious Illinois High School Association (IHSA) All-State Academic team for excelling in both sports and academics. Nine students were also named as IHSA student-athletes in their sports. One of Uni’s newest teams, Boys Tennis, won a first-ever sectional championship, while Boys Soccer were regional and sectional champions. In addition, our students broke 24 school records in various sports.


The With Illinois campaign is a campus-wide fundraising effort. Uni’s goal is $10 million by the campaign’s end in 2022. Most gifts given or pledged between now and then will count toward the goal. Our plans include increasing our offerings of hands-on experiences and access to active learning environments and cutting-edge technology, upgrading infrastructure, and increasing faculty stipends. In addition, our priorities include student support, such as fee waivers, funding for faculty professional development, and paying for long-overdue building maintenance and improvements. Uni is looking forward to developing partnerships and active learning environments to influence policy and extend educational innovation through our research and teaching from Urbana-Champaign to Illinois and beyond.



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Jeff Walkington, Uni High School Director

Dave Bergandine, Uni Teaching Associate - Chemistry

Matthias Grosse Perdekamp, Parent

Youssef Hashash and Sue Kim, Parents

Earle Heffley & Carolyn Anderson, Parents

Harrison Kim, Parent

Rajesh & Ritu Lalwani, Parents

Brian Lauthen, Uni Teaching Associate – Latin

Janet & Michael LeRoy, Parents

Brian and Janice Lilly, Parents

Ben Leff ‘01, Uni Teaching Associate – Social Studies

Vikram and Meher Luthar, Parents

Elizabeth Majerus, Uni Teaching Associate – English

Christine Payne ’71, Uni High Alumni Association Liaison

Youngwook & Lauren Song, Parents

Nathan annd Mary Walker, Parents

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The 2017-2018 Uni High Annual Report was produced by the Uni High Advancement Staff, articles written by Carol Lombardi, and design created by the University of Illinois Public Affairs Creative Services team.

This webpage was created by Uni High students Cedric Swearingen and Lawrence Zhao in their World Wide Web class under the instruction of Joel Beesley.