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She had big shoes to fill when she succeeded Cindy Lyons, but Beverly Thompson no doubt became the face of our community center in Forest Park. She was selfless, fun and adventurous. And her death Monday morning is an unexpected blow that leaves us all saddened.

As family and friends share heartening stories of what Thompson has meant to them, it is no surprise that there are so many tales to tell. She was a bubblegum-blowing champion who once made the rounds on black-and-white TV. She had a reputation for spontaneity that is rare in an era where we search for ways to increasingly tie ourselves to our jobs.

And what about her job?

Work isn’t always seen as the most enjoyable undertaking. But for Thompson, it was her duty to show us a good time – and she had fun doing it. Forest Park’s party girl found ways to make us smile on a regular basis. We gladly hopped on a bus without knowing where we were headed, so long as Thompson was at the helm.

Thompson also embraced social responsibilities, delivering food to the needy and comfort to the lonely. Many community center patrons in Forest Park are seniors living on fixed incomes and in shrinking social circles. Her help and her friendship far exceeded what is outlined in any job description.

Bev Thompson will be missed.

The responsibility is ours

It’s hard for Forest Park residents not to roll their eyes whenever they mention the public high schools in Proviso Township. The antics, the wasteful spending, the abysmal test scores and the shameless sense of entitlement in the school district are often acknowledged with a casual gesture that we all understand to mean there’s little hope for improvement. For shame.

Of the 10 communities in the district, this one is no less obligated to help right the ship. And any changes that are to be made will emerge only when voters and taxpayers hold the school board and its administrators accountable.

At Monday’s board meeting, members voted on a number of significant issues. Thing is, anyone sitting in the audience that night would be hard pressed to know it. A $78 million budget proposal has a deficit of $6.5 million built right into it. The district is about to issue $15 million in working cash bonds (more debt), and the board continues the questionable practice of paying legal fees on a case that has absolutely no connection to the schools.

Without saying exactly what any of the problems are, or offering any solutions, the superintendent asked teachers and parents to look forward to better times in “another year,” just not this year.

It’s easy to see, though, why such a terribly managed school system is allowed to conduct business as usual and sap Forest Park taxpayers when the response is a mere shrug. For shame.