Neighbors in the news: Hoffman Estates Parks leader elected to state board

  • Robert Kaplan

    Robert Kaplan Courtesy of Jennifer Hyde

Updated 4/1/2022 9:08 AM

Robert Kaplan, vice president of the Hoffman Estates Park District, was elected to the Illinois Association of Park Districts' board of trustees.

As an IAPD board trustee, Kaplan will assist the association with its mission of advancing Illinois park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies in their ability to preserve natural resources and improve the quality of life for all people in Illinois.


Kaplan was appointed to fill a vacancy on the IAPD board in April 2021, and was elected to the board in January. He serves on the IAPD Honors and Resolutions and Program committees and is a four-year member of IAPD's Board Member Development Program, receiving a Master Board Member Award.

He was elected to the Hoffman Estates Park District board in 2015, and has previously served as president and treasurer. Prior to his election, he was a community representative with the park board for more than 10 years.

Kaplan, who is also an attorney, is active in the local bar association and is a current board member and past president of the Beth Tikvah Congregation in Hoffman Estates. He also serves as a trustee on the Friends of HEParks Foundation.

Joseph Torgerson, new head of school at Christian Heritage Academy in Northfield
Joseph Torgerson, new head of school at Christian Heritage Academy in Northfield - Courtesy of Janis Kahren
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• Joseph Torgerson was appointed head of school at Christian Heritage Academy, a private, independent Christian school in Northfield, effective July 1.

The son of missionary parents, Torgerson grew up in Hong Kong. He holds a degree in history from Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota, and a master's degree in eduction from the University of Missouri.

After teaching high school humanities for nine years at college preparatory schools in St. Louis, Missouri, and Taiwan, Torgerson became a K-12 school principal at an international school in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Upon moving back to the United States, he spent two years doing Ph.D. coursework and working in Student Life at Trinity International University, Deerfield. He began serving as the middle and upper school principal at Christian Heritage Academy in 2021.

"Christian Heritage Academy is built on decades of commitment to offering an excellent Christian education to serve families in the Chicago area," Torgerson said. "I look forward to further developing the holistic student experience at Christian Heritage Academy -- prioritizing not only what students know, but helping them understand who they are in Jesus and how they can grow in mission and service to the world."

Winners of the 2021-2022 American History Contest, sponsored by the Signal Hill Chapter, NSDAR, in Barrington, from left, are: Ava Goetze, Andrew Velleuer and Kalyani Manjunadh.
Winners of the 2021-2022 American History Contest, sponsored by the Signal Hill Chapter, NSDAR, in Barrington, from left, are: Ava Goetze, Andrew Velleuer and Kalyani Manjunadh. - Courtesy of Signal Hill Chapter, NSDAR

• Barrington-based Signal Hill Chapter, NSDAR, announced the winners of its 2021-2022 American History Essay Contest during the chapter's Youth Awards virtual ceremony held in February.

Chapter Historian Lisa Davis organized the contest in which 55 fifth through eighth graders submitted essays.

First-place winners were: Ava Goetze, fifth grade, Roslyn Road Elementary School, Barrington; Andrew Velleuer, seventh grade, home schooled; and Kalyani Manjunadh, eighth grade, Barrington Middle School.

Ava was also awarded first place in the DAR District IV and Illinois State competitions for her age group.

"We are grateful to the parents, teachers, and judges within Barrington District 220 who support the students and encourage them to participate in this annual contest," said Joyce Wright, regent of the Signal Hill Chapter, NSDAR.

"Our chapter is delighted to provide this opportunity to grade school students to learn and write about our nation's early history and be recognized for their efforts."

Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Gielczyk, U.S. Navy
Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Gielczyk, U.S. Navy - Courtesy of Navy Office of Community Outreach

• Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Gielczyk, serves the U.S. Navy at Assault Craft Unit Five (ACU-5), operating out of San Diego, California.

Gielczyk, who is a Mundelein native and 2008 Mundelein High School graduate, joined the Navy eight years ago and serves as an electronics technician.

"I joined the Navy as part of a family tradition," said Gielczyk. "I'm the 12th person in my family to join the Navy. We consider it a family business."

Located on a Marine Corps base, ACU-5 is a self-sustained command established in 1983, encompassing 34 buildings across shore and sea-components. ACU-5 has more than 600 sailors and 30 civilians that train, maintain, repair and operate the 32 Navy hovercraft, Landing Craft Air Cushion, a high-speed, over-the-beach, fully amphibious landing craft.

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