It is gratifying for certain to see Proviso Math and Science Academy, the selective enrollment school within the District 209 Proviso Township High Schools, again place right near the top of the U.S. News rankings of high schools in Illinois. This year it was 8th in the state.

While we have our doubts about the efficacy of such rankings as a method to assess our schools, it is a genuine accomplishment when PMSA places so well year after year. And it is also impossible to ignore just how dismally Proviso East and Proviso West place in the same ranking system. U.S. News does not even bother to rank the worst 220 high schools in Illinois. It just declares that they have all tied for 437th place.

We appreciate that Bessie Karvelas, the interim superintendent of District 209, spoke to our reporter for our news story. Karvelas, a former principal of PMSA, was rightfully proud of the school. But she did not shy away from acknowledging the grim state of academic achievement at East and West. 

That’s good. And a necessary start in finding a range of paths forward for these two essential Proviso institutions. She talked about the unformed efforts to create a version of the math and science academies at East and West, acknowledging the work has really just started. And while it is important to add academic rigor to both schools, we see the path forward being a wide range of programs which include more honors courses but also further investment in vocational training.

The goal is not to move Proviso East and West into the top echelon of the U.S. News rankings. It is to gradually raise the graduation rate and the attendance rate and to launch more and more of our students into the world with skills and confidence to go to work or go to college.

So, yes, let’s cheer PMSA. And then let’s focus on rebuilding East and West.

We all scream for ice cream

How about this for a collaboration!

Brown Cow, Forest Park’s iconic ice cream parlor, has gone into a sideline of creating custom flavors for other businesses.

And along comes the Gillian Baker Team, a leading local real estate brand, looking to further distinguish itself through ice cream.

That led to “Home Sweet Home,” a new flavor at Brown Cow that is, says our reporter Tom Holmes, vanilla based with a caramel swirl, sea salt and, of course, chocolate-covered potato chips. Delicious.

This is Forest Park at its best. Two entrepreneurs having fun, being creative and teaming up to grow their businesses.

Stop by for a scoop of “Home Sweet Home” while it lasts. And maybe buy a house in Forest Park, too.