The size of this year’s entering class at Evanston Township High School, about 860 students, according to the district, represents a significant decrease from the incoming class last fall.
Last year, 2021-22, the school profile for ETHS showed 1,007 freshmen. The 860 this year, if the numbers stand, will be a surprisingly large 15% reduction.
One large caveat: Last fall’s numbers are from the official count in late September, so it’s possible the current freshman class will grow between now and the official count in a month.
Assuming the decrease, or something close to it, remains, the question is why?
At this point, pending a study, anything is just speculation. However, one possibility is that the years-long enrollment decline at School District 65, the feeder district for ETHS, has finally caught up with the high school.
It’s also possible that 1,007 was, for whatever reason, unusually high and things are getting back to normal. The year before the freshman class was around 900.
Whatever the reasons behind all of this, there are 860 youngsters still joining the Wildkit family. Freshman orientation began Monday and classes start next Monday.
Middle school friends Zen Huzar and Nate Gustafson, both 14, went through orientation together.
“I’m excited and a little bit nervous,” said Zen.
“I’m hopeful of a better year than last year,” he added. Both Zen and Nate attended Haven Middle School.
Nate said he hopes to “Make new friends and do well in school and sports.”
Both boys want to be on the football team this fall, Zen as a tight end and Nate as a wide receiver.
Zen’s mother, Kristin Huzar, said the ETHS orientation was “thought out and well organized.”
Huzar said she is also “very excited about Dr. Campbell being the new superintendent.”
And, in a sense, this is also a freshman year for Campbell, and for principal Taya Kinzie. Both are starting their first year in new positions.
While both have been at ETHS for some time, Campbell is now superintendent, taking over for Eric Witherspoon, who retired.
And Kinzie moved up from another administrative position to take Campbell’s old job as principal.
In a website message to the community, Campbell said that as school begins, “We are focusing on how to heal through the challenges of the pandemic and ongoing challenges we face as a nation.”
Campbell said the past couple of years have been tough, “yet we are resilient.”
Both Campbell, and Kinzie in her website message, stressed the importance of safety, both physical and emotional.
Kinzie outlined five priorities for 2022-23: healing together in solidarity, giving and receiving care and respect, setting expectations for success, continuing to move forward with restorative practices, and enhancing school safety.
Certainly incoming freshmen would agree with that five-point plan, along with what Campbell said: “I am looking forward to a great school year!”