D65 Receives National and State Communications Awards

Submitted by District 65

Evanston/Skokie District 65 received one of the most prestigious awards in educational communication from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) this summer.

District 65 Joseph E. Hill Education Center. Credit: Adina Keeling

The “Student Assignment Planning: Fostering Equity and Access in Education” campaign was selected from several nominations submitted across the country to receive the 2022 Golden Achievement Award for outstanding communication and engagement efforts. The winning entries were recognized at the 2022 NSPRA National Seminar July 17-20 in Chicago.

Additionally, District 65 won three awards for its communications and engagement efforts from the Illinois Chapter/National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA).

  • Student homework planning video – Deb Keegan, Melissa Messinger, Sarita Smith, Tania Margonza, Student Homework Planning Video
  • MIRACLES in Action: December 2021 Community Report – Melissa Messinger; Deb Kegan
  • Student Assignment Planning: Fostering Equity and Access to Education – Deb Keegan, Tania Margonza, Melissa Messinger, Sarita Smith, Stephanie Veloz,

Winners will be honored at the INSPRA Awards Ceremony to be held September 9 in Oak Brook. The district is one of dozens of professional school communicators who will be honored across the state. Each entry is evaluated by judges against a rubric of excellence, with prizes awarded to those who scored within established ranges for merit and excellence.

“Our communications department is focused year-round on demonstrating the many ways District 65 uses its resources to help students and families,” Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton said. “These projects are excellent examples of this work,” he said.

For the national award, according to the NSPRA website, the organization “gold rewardrecognizes outstanding strategic work in all aspects of public relations, communications, marketing and school engagement.

In the spring of 2021, District 65 embarked on the first phase of a multi-year process to develop a comprehensive student assignment plan to modernize its structure and address the historic inequities that most impact students of color. The process included updating school attendance limits, a selection process for magnet schools/programs, and the possibility of returning a school to the Fifth Ward community.

Despite changes to enrollment, student demographics, academic services and programs, the district had not comprehensively reviewed attendance limits or recommended changes in nearly 30 years.

After more than a year of community engagement and communication efforts, the school board approved a new student assignment plan in March 2022, as well as a funding plan for building a school in the fifth ward of Evanston. The new plan will come into effect no earlier than the 2024-2025 school year.

“We are honored to be selected for the Golden Achievement Award, which encompasses the hard work and dedication of so many within D65,” said Melissa Messinger, Executive Director of Communications. “We knew the potential impact of student assignment planning on our community and the need for a strong and inclusive stakeholder-driven process. It’s gratifying to have our team recognized for their efforts, but even more so to know that the new plan will positively affect so many of our students and families for generations to come.

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