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This blog explores, from multiple perspectives, gifted education in general and The Avery Coonley School experience in particular. Welcome to the conversation!


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ACS Alumni Council Profile: Maddie Flynn

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Meet Maddie Flynn, the youngest member of the ACS Alumni Council. Read more about Maddie and why she stays involved in ACS below. 

What was your class year?

Tell us about your life:
My twin brother, Jacob, and I were born in Minneapolis and moved to Clarendon Hills when we were one year old. I began my ACS journey in Early Childhood, so ACS has been a part of ¾ of my life! Outside of school, I always enjoyed sports, art, and playing the piano. When I started high school last year, I had to narrow my extracurricular activities down to include mostly soccer, Model UN, and service opportunities, but still always make time for my family and friends.

What are some of the things you enjoy doing? 
I started playing soccer when I was 4 and I have loved it ever since. In addition to playing on the varsity girls soccer team at Ignatius, I am also on the top team for the 2001 girls on FC United. Soccer is a huge commitment in my life and after school three days a week I drive straight from the city to Glenview for practice. It’s quite the trek, but definitely worth it. The girls on my soccer teams are some of my closest friends and I know soccer will always be a part of my life.

What is one of your proudest accomplishments? Many of my proudest accomplishments are soccer-related. Last year, I was one of the four freshmen chosen to be on the Ignatius varsity girls soccer team and really enjoyed working with upperclassmen and playing with girls from different grades. In addition, last year I was one of the few nominees for  the Fr. Florian Zimecki S.J. Freshman Achievement Award.

Do you have any family news to share? My brother, Michael, graduated from ACS in 2013 and St. Ignatius College Prep in 2017. He now attends Northwestern University and loves it! My twin brother Jacob enjoys running (I’m not quite sure how he runs for fun, but he’s good at it!). Who would have thought that coming in first at the ACS Fun Run in 7th grade would start his running career? He now runs on the varsity cross country and track teams, has set school records, and holds a 4:39 mile time. Our dog, Jemma, was recently highlighted in the local Daisy Fields Magazine giving us the a chance to continue spreading the word about Black Dog Syndrome, the topic of my 7th grade science fair project.

What have you done since graduating from ACS? Last year, I started high school at St. Ignatius College Prep. While the daily train rides are a bit taxing, I love to take advantage of all the things Chicago has to offer! Like ACS, St. Ignatius is very culturally and geographically diverse. It is like a slice of the real world (with a healthy dose of Catholicism attached). I really enjoy the service aspect, especially being part of Circle of Friends, an organization which helps mentally handicapped and developmentally challenged young adults lead meaningful and happy lives with dignity and respect. Locally, I volunteer at the Wellness House and am on the Junior Board of the Community House in Hinsdale.I am also an active member of our school’s Model United Nations team.

What is your fondest memory from ACS? My fondest ACS memory would probably have to be the Eighth Grade Play. I loved seeing my classmates all come together and really enjoyed my role. It was so nice to be able to spend time with all my peers at after school rehearsals and practices before our graduation and I really treasure these memories.

How did going to ACS impact your life? The research, study, and communication skills I learned and practiced at ACS have made the transition to high school much less stressful. I have so much less time to do homework in high school that the time management skills I learned at ACS are critical to my high school success. Because of the classroom environment at ACS, I am never hesitant to respectfully and constructively share my opinion, ask questions, and listen to other’s comments non-judgmentally. 

Who was favorite teacher and why? Mrs. Schaub was my favorite teacher. She made even the drier subjects like grammar fun and interesting. I had always enjoyed writing, but she made me feel extra special about it. She always gave me great feedback and inspired me to continue writing, especially creatively. In high school, writing skills aren’t really a big part of the curriculum and I am thankful that I already have solid writing skills.

What was your favorite ACS tradition? 
While I enjoyed all the traditions at ACS, it is some of the smaller things that make up my fondest memories. I loved racing to be the first one outside during recess, occasionally having to spend recess in the gym on a rainy day, and serenading classes with our newly developed guitar skills. I think one of my favorite memories will always be playing predator-prey during P.E. – being able to run in the forest preserve was definitely a wonderful luxury that I appreciate even more now that I am on an urban campus.

Why should more alums be involved in ACS? 
I feel fortunate that my parents have always viewed education as such an important part of my childhood. It’s probably an overused analogy, but to me, my educational journey is like a tree. ACS is the roots where it all begins, high school is the trunk which grows  stronger, and then, like branches, we all reach for the sun on our own paths. I am thankful to have had such a healthy and sturdy foundation. I think ACS is a bond which unites all alums and I think most of us have had that realization that we probably wouldn’t be where we are today without our ACS experience. I always know I can go back to my ACS home and feel welcome there and I feel like it’s important that alums continue to preserve that sense of community so that this feeling remains for decades to come.

Tags:  Alumni  alumni council 

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ACS Alumni Council Profile: Carissa Means

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 25, 2017
If you are currently on campus, you will likely recognize Carissa Means, an ACS parent and member of the ACS Alumni Council. Read more about Carissa and why she stays involved in ACS below. 
What was your class year? 

Tell us all about your life – What are some favorite hobbies? Is there anything you really enjoy doing? Do you have any news about your family you would like to share?  
I enjoy gardening, beekeeping, volunteering with my church, and showing my horse. Just this summer, we purchased our new horse Prada N Pearls. My children, Lucas (8) and Lindley (4), have taken her to their first horse show. It is fun to get to share my love of horse showing with my children. My husband Jeff and my brother Peter Angerhofer ‘83 continue to grow the healthcare consulting firm they started two years ago.
What have you done since graduating from ACS?  
Since graduation, I have worked in the education, technology, and beauty industries. It has been fun to thread my love of education through my various interests. I have lived on the East coast twice, run for state office, served on the school board, hosted Presidential candidates, and started a wonderful little family.
What do you do now?  
Currently, I am blessed to be able to stay home with my kids, volunteer at church and at Avery Coonley, travel with my husband, and indulge in my love of chickens, bees, and horses. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to have two children at Avery Coonley. Staying home with them, I have the ability to volunteer as much as needed. I get to watch them experience the same things I remember from my childhood. 
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?  
My proudest accomplishment definitely involves my husband and kids. I am so thankful for the environment my husband and I have created in which our children get to learn and grow. Our house is definitely the “Madhouse on Madison,” but our kids are experiencing things most city kids miss. I think everyone is happy when they come to our house. 
Thinking back, what is one of your fondest memories from your time at ACS?  
This question is impossible to answer. There are just too many. Instead of going with the obvious ones, I am going to name one from 4th group. At a time when we were now expected to be self-sufficient and prepared for middle school, Mrs. Grussing let us lie on the floor while she read us the most magical book. It was called The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. If you haven’t read it find yourself a nice used copy. 
How did going to ACS impact your life?  
ACS influenced me in so many ways. My eyes were opened to art, music, cultures around the world, and beautiful traditions. I left through the gate prepared to present myself with confidence and sensitivity. 
Who was your favorite teacher and why?  
I definitely had several favorites. My greatest thrill was to be in Mrs. Ward’s first 1st Group class and have my son in her last 1st group class. It was wonderful to get to spend so much time with her again. 
What was your favorite tradition? 
My favorite tradition was sneaking on stage to run up and down the spiral staircases before cheerleading practice. Wait! Did I say that out loud? I really meant having the spaces in 3rd Group. 
Why do you think more alums should be involved with ACS?  
I definitely think more alums should be more involved. It is so important for current families, teachers, and administrators to understand what has made this school great throughout the years. Yes, the academics are great and important, but Avery Coonley is so much more than great curriculum. Coming back as an alum, you are able to pass along that heritage. We are raising children. Let’s give them magical childhoods. Whenever I drive through those gates, it is as if I am a child again. I am at rest. I am creative. I am at play. I am home.

Tags:  Alumni  alumni council 

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