Concerns about an achievement gap between white and black students in the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 were eased somewhat Monday night when a student at Chute Middle School was recognized by the school board as being among the top black students nationwide.

The recognition was focused on Eyan Simms, a sixth grader who was recently named a Pop Warner Academic All-American through his participation on the North Shore Panthers football team.

Eyan’s award places him in the top 2 percent academically of more than 350,000 kids across the country who participate in the Pop Warner program.


“I am very proud of Eyan for being named an Academic All-American and, more importantly, for his incredible work ethic both on and off the field,” said District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren. Eyan was recognized by the board (on his birthday, incidentally) as the first Evanstonian to be so honored in the 40-plus-year history of the program.

“I am very honored and excited to be an All-American,” Eyan declared, “and have always pictured myself playing a sport and getting good grades in college.”

He added: “This award has shown me that my dreams can come true if I continue to work hard in school.”

The All-American Scholar Program requires a minimum 96% grade point average, taking into account a student’s final grades from the prior school year and considering activities and achievements.

Eyan had already been recognized for his terrific work by Chicagoland Pop Warner, Mid-American Pop Warner, and also this summer at the National All-American Banquet in Disney World.

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Congratulations Eyan!
    Your academic and athletic accomplishments are outstanding. Hopefully you can serve as a role model for other students, black, white, hispanic, asian, purple and orange et al, and you can inspire others to realize their potential.

    While the Achievement Gap exists and persists in Evanston for several complex and multidimensional reasons, Eyan provides one example and there are many others, of young black male students who are doing exceptionally well in Evanston schools, both D65 and D202.

    Maybe school administrators, boards, and community members will take the time to thoughtfully understand the reasons for Eyan’s and their success and try to encourage and emulate best practices and behaviors that can replicate this success.

    Raising and educating our children is a very difficult and challenging process.

    Let’s celebrate Eyan and help all other children achieve his level of success.

    1. Eyan’s academic and personal success
      I suppose it’s nobody’s business, but I would love to hear his back story about his home life and how he was raised…..just curious. I know there are many kids who are great successes who come from horrible backgrounds, and work hard to overcome the odds stacked against them….. and vice versa, or course…..as I said…just curious…it’s nice to hear about great kids, instead of just the troubled ones in the headlines…..

  2. Congratulations, Eyan

    Congratulations, Eyan.  I'm so proud to live in the same town as you.  I honor your hard work and amibition.

    1. This is my beautiful nephew

      This is my beautiful nephew..just so yall know we dont play about education…..but yall better believe a GAP does exist…I use to read to him and support all his efforts..my baby sister is a great mother…he is supported by his father, his stepdad and grandparents who dont miss a game…this is the reason for his excellence…Education of self starts at home.

      1. excellent insights from Rhonda

        Rhonda – you are your family have done an outstanding job raising your nephew. Your family appears to take education seriously and provide the support and encouragement to help Eyan succeed. I'd encourage you and other members of your family to share your successes with friends, neighbors and other members of the larger Evanston community. Your family has a lot to offer others and your positive and productive approach can enable more kids to be successful. A GAP does exist, but the more we understand why it exists and how families like yours are able to be successful, the better off our community will be. Too often over the 40 years and 4 kids i've had go through Evanston schools, i've heard people seeking simplistic solutions or blaming others. Let's find more constructive solutions like you've found with Eyan over the next 40 years.


  3. One student does not an achievement gap disprove

    I'm delighted to see Eyan Simms getting well-deserved recognition from the Evanston community for his tremendous success. (On Twitter I would expect to see a hashtag, so I'll add it here: #BlackExcellence ) The article's title, though, I find dismissive of a real, longstanding problem, and also a bit silly. By the same logic, we might conclude after watching Michael Phelps bring home Olympic gold medals that everyone in America must be in top physical shape. There are hundreds of kids of color in Evanston's schools who work hard every day for success against enormous odds, including the implicit bias in their community and schools, and yet who don't succeed as Eyan did, through no fault of their own. To those who want to know more about Eyan's family, I ask that you look instead at your own family, at the biases with which you were raised and how they may continue to affect your perspective. In my opinion, a major reason that the Civil Rights Movement didn't succeed in ridding America of racism is that most white people didn't follow up by doing work on themselves. It's never too late to start: The Unitarian Church of Evanston will be showing a wonderful three-part series, "Race, the Power of an Illusion," at 7 PM on October 4, 11 and 18. Also helpful is an article you can find easily online, "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo.

    1. Joy for this scholar and no assumptions, please

      What a joy to hear about any child in our community who is succeeding.  I likewise view the headline as a bit silly.  Perhaps the headline writer meant that there is no gap for this child as that appears to be true.

      Thankfully, for those of us who live in Evanston, we are grounded in a community that embraces diversity and wants all children to succeed.  In my opinion, people who live in Evanston have sought out this community because of (not in spite of) who lives here.  In Evanston, we invest a significant amount of time and energy discussing issues of race and that is good.

      More work is certainly needed to make our aspirations of educational equality a reality. But I ask all to consider whether it is helpful to our efforts to paint an entire race with a broad brush and make generalized allegations about everyone in that race.

      Perhaps the better course is to reach out to all people of good will, no matter what race.  And make an affirmative choice not to make assumptions based on skin color, whatever the skin color.  I hope that we can agree on that. 


    2. Real Discussion on Achievement Gap?

      Can or will Evanston ever have a serious, thorough and comprehensive discussion about why the achievement gap exists and what can actually be done about it or will some community members just continue to focus on biases & institutional racism? I recognize and understand there's an achievement gap, and i understand that race is an important part of the discussion, but I would hope and think in a highly educated and caring community like Evanston, that we can have a much more informed and thoughtful conversation.

  4. Congratulations and the Gap
    Congratulations, Eyan Simms! This seems like an award to be extremely proud of.

    The headline to this article is concerning and promotes dangerous stereotypes. It minimizes the real problem of a racial achievement gap and implies that black and brown kids simply need to work hard in order to erase this gap. Eyan’s clear success is important and should be celebrated. It cannot be used to diminish the importance of serving his peers who might not be having similar success. The achievement gap is well-researched and the complexities of the causes are recognized. Not for one moment can we trivialize the cause to be that black and brown students (or their families) don’t work hard enough or care enough. Instead, we must identify and change policies that appear to be race-neutral and biases that each of us hold in order to make systemic change. Evanston school districts have recognized this and we already see changes. I look forward to seeing many more.

  5. There are alternatives

    Not to in any means distract from his or others sucess.

    There is a lot of press about public schools versus charter schools, magnet schools and school choice. Evanston is probably too small to have charter schools or offer school choice—too must politics and self-preservation of school staff. But there are alternatives.

    A student who was home schooled and supplement it with IMACS and eMACS recently finished four years of math at Northwestern. She started with Accelerated Linear Algebra and Abstract Algebra her first year and by graduation had long since been taking graduate math, was designate ‘Outstanding Student’ each year—oh yes her graduation was from high school. NOW she starts college

    There are alternatives to ETHS for both high achievers and those who seek more than they feel they are getting—though I’m sure many top students have gone through ETHS.

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