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The Student News Site of Prospect High School


Another Story

Permalink - Posted on 2021-06-12 23:04


Prospect Head Coach Ross Giusti has another story to tell.


Prospect came from behind to win the sectional title against Glenbrook South in a 4-3 thriller, officially taking their place in prospect history.


The last time prospect won a sectional was in 2011, a team that finished third in the state in Class 4A baseball.

“This is the ten-year anniversary of our state-run,” Giusti said. “It means so much to be put back on the map and to be one of eight final teams left in the state. It’s something to be very proud of and is a tribute to the [hardwork] of these kids.”


The drama was at no expense in this championship as runners were in scoring position early and often for both teams. Prospect started off the game with the bases loaded and zero out.  Tyler Cuilla grounded into a double play to give the Knights a 1-0 lead but killed any chance of a huge inning for Prospect. 


 In the second Glenbrook South quickly responded with a run of their own off a sac fly to tie the game at one. 


Defense was a struggle for the knights at the beginning of the game. They gave up three errors in the first three innings, one of which lead to a titan run. 


After back-to-back singles put runners on first and second, a ball slipped past Prospect shortstop Brady Jensen to give the titans a 2-1 lead. It was the first time Prospect trailed all postseason.


One inning later Peyton Burgh took four straight balls for an RBI walk, which tied the game at two. Gregg Neppl came in to pitch for Michael Bauer and immediately retired Brady Jensen on a lineout to center.


The score would stay knotted at two until the 6th inning when Brady Jensen made prospect history.


With the score tied at two in the bottom of the 6th sophomore Jack Friar fit a ball between a diving third baseman and shortstop to start the inning. 


Friar was a player who started at shortstop the entire year on JV, before being called up to the varsity postseason roster. Friar made the final out against Glenbrook North in the sectional semifinal and once again found himself in a huge moment.


“I didn’t even know I was hitting at first,” Friar said. “ It was a surprise, but I knew I just had to find a way on base and score any way possible.”


Cole Conner then worked a walk, which moved Friar into scoring position with no outs. 


Jake Bush placed a textbook sacrifice bunt on the right side of the field and was narrowly thrown out at first. Runners were on second and third for the leadoff hitter Peyton Burgh with one out.


Burgh worked the count to 2-2 but lost the battle to reliever Josh Moosly on an outside breaking ball. It seemed like Prospect had blown its chance at scoring.


But, what transpired next will forever go down as one of the most clutch at-bats in Prospect baseball history.


 In the words of color commentator Nolan Hamilton, not a single fan was sitting down, in one of the largest crowds ever at Larry Pohlman field. Jensen fouled off a 2-2 pitch, which only caused fans’ hearts to race faster.

On the sixth pitch of his at-bat, Jensen found the pitch he was looking for and drove it over short to give the knights a 4-2 lead. 

“It was like a movie,” Prospect starter Cole Lannert said. “I don’t think anyone could have written a better script.”

Pullquote Photo

“It was like a movie,”

— Cole Lannert

Lannert went back on the bump to finish it for the knights in the top of the 7th. He was nearing 80 pitches, but hadn’t given up a single earned run to that point. 


However, Glenbrook South was not looking to go down quietly.  James Hackett walked then stole second to start the top of the 7th. Will Sommers came in to close the game. Summers immediately surrendered a single to center and all of a sudden it was a one-run game.


Drama was brewing in the 7th once again.


Sommers kept his cool and three pitches later found his first out on a high fly to left. He struck out the next batter on four pitches and ended the game with a weak squib to second base. Prospect had escaped the 7th again and was moving on.


“We’re just making memories right now, making history, and it’s awesome to be a part of,” Jensen said.  


Prospect will play  Rockton Hononegah at Wintrust field in Schaumburg for the chance to head downstate. First Pitch is 7:30 pm on Monday.

You can buy tickets here.


Prospect Pulls Through Against Glenbrook North

Permalink - Posted on 2021-06-10 19:12


The game was on the line for the knights. 


Prospect entered the bottom of the 7th with a comfortable 8-3 lead over Glenbrook North. However, the spartans weren’t quite ready to go home. The spartans rallied four runs during the inning and brought the game within one, with a runner on second and third and two out. 


But for this game, there was no hollywood finish for the Spartans as a ground ball to second base ended the Spartans’ season. Prospect had held on 8-7 to advance to the Sectional Final.


“The seventh inning was a rollercoaster,” Prospect right fielder Ethan Rossi said, “ I was getting a bit nervous out in right, but I had faith in our guys. I knew we were going to pull through.”


Prospect did pull through and mobbed the field in celebration. The sectional final was coming through prospect for the first time in school history.


“Sprinting out [from the dugout] was incredible. You’re just surrounded by your best friends, and it feels so good to celebrate all the work we put into this program” Senior reliever Jack Doyle Said.


Cole Conner received the start and was a workhorse for the knights on the bump, surrendering only three runs before that fateful seventh inning. Conner played key roles in all three of the knight’s playoff wins, earning the win against meadows, the save versus Stevenson, and now the win over Glenbrook North.


“Cole has been an absolute warrior,” Prospect head coach Ross Giusti said, “How far that kid has come in one year is just unbelievable.”


Prospect was able to jump on GBN quickly putting up two runs in the top of the first on a Brady Jensen triple and a sac fly from Tyler Ciulla.


Glenbrook North was quick to respond with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame and the game was already taking shape up to become a shootout.


GBN tied the game in the bottom of the second off of a wild pitch, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. In the top of the third Ethan Rossi turned on a 2-1 fastball sending it off the top of the left-field wall and out of the ballpark to give the knights a 5-2 lead.


Prospect would tack on two more in the top of the 5th, off of a sac fly and wild pitch. In the 7th prospect added one last insurance run on an RBI single from Tyler Ciulla. It would make all the difference.


Whatever comfortable lead the knights had going into the 7th had vanished. Back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases and spelled trouble to start the inning. 


After two more consecutive singles from GBN Prospect’s five-run lead had shrunk to 3, a single out on the board. Conner’s night was done.


 Prospect was bleeding runs and Giusti hoped Will Sommers could be the band-aid to stop the bleeding. Sophomore Jack Friar took Sommers’s spot at second and Cole Conner moved over to third.


Sommers immediately got a flyout to Jake Bush in center at the expense of another run. The game was now within two for Glenbrook North with ducks on first and third. A 3-2 single from NJ Gott brought the game back within one run. 


Energy could not be contained from the Spartans dugout as they were one extra-base hit from walking it off down five at the beginning of the inning.


Nerves and intensity hung on every pitch as Sommers sent two fastballs by Spencer Geake. The lefty rolled over the next pitch and Kyle Odeshoo tagged first for the second out.


The game was on the line for the knights.


Runners on second and third, a single could end Prospects season and send Glenbrook into a frenzy.


But Sommers kept his cool. On Sommers’s first pitch Gaffney sent a routine ground ball to Friar at second and after a short toss, it was over. Just like the 2016 cubs, Prospect had won it 8-7 holding on in the final inning.


“As soon as the ball went to Friar I was so happy. That kid has been grinding all year long and the fact that he was able to make the last play is something I will remember forever.” Conner said.


The Sectional championship now runs through Larry Pullman field at Prospect highschool. Prospect takes on Glenbrook south on Friday at 4:30. 


You can catch the game here on KTV.


Prospect is Back on Top

Permalink - Posted on 2021-06-09 03:52

Prospect Center fielder Jake Bush was looking to make a play.


Prospect led Stevenson 3-2 in the top of the 7th inning with one on and one out in the IHSA regional championship game. 


Prospect reliever Cole Conner started the inning by sitting down Jordan Skolmar on a 2-2 curveball, but Stevenson quickly responded with a Benji Ries single to right. Stevenson then went on to pinch run for Ries before Joe Little came to the plate.


Conner released a high first-pitch fastball to Little, who drove it into center field. Bush drifted back before planting, catching, and firing the ball back towards first base.


“I looked up and saw the runner at second, so I knew I had a chance to throw him out. I figured it might as well throw it and I made sure to keep the throw low.” Bush said.


Kyle Odeshoo fielded the ball on a three hop and as  the runners’  foot slipped off the bag Odeshoo applied the tag. 


The fist base official raised his fist and in that instant the field flooded with blue and white jerseys. Prospect had won the regional 3-2, the first time since 2016.


“My teammates they’ve known that I really haven’t played my part this year. So, being able to go out there and [make a play] for my teammates felt so good. I felt proud.” Bush said.


Gates started the game for the Knights and was nothing short of fantastic. Gates went 5 ⅓ innings with 8 strikeouts while only surrendering 2 hits. One of those two hits was put over the left field wall by Ries for a solo homerun. The other being a blooper into right field.


“I was locked in. All my pitches were moving well and locating the zone. It was just an awesome feeling. It felt great.” Gates said.


After a scoreless first two innings for Prospect, Bush broke the silence with a screaming leadoff triple through the right center gap. Two batters later Rossi sent a double over right fielder Trent Henderson’s head and the Knights were on the board.


The Knights had no issue getting runners in scoring position, but failed to bring them home throughout the game. Prospect left runners on in five of their six offensive innings.


The offensive bright spots for the Knights were Sommers and Conner as they both went 2-3 on the day with Sommers knocking in pinch runner Rick Lytle to make the game 3-1 in the fifth.


After a wild pitch led to a Stevenson run in the sixth, head coach Ross Giusti went to Conner to close out the game.


“We’re going to enjoy it tonight. Enjoy it at practice tomorrow,” said Pitching coach Phil O’Grady, “[Glenbrook North] is a two seed, the pressure’s on them we’re the three [seed].” 


Prospect will look to continue their playoff run at Glenbrook North on Wednesday Jun 9. at 4:30.


Knights Chemistry Breaks 13 Year Drought

Permalink - Posted on 2021-06-03 19:26

Prospect setter Logan Hiskes placed the ball high above the net for waiting outside hitter Ryan Uemura. 

Prospect had found itself down 21-17 just a few minutes prior in the final set against Rolling Meadows in a match to decide the MSL east. After a few well-placed balls by Prospect and a few miscues from Meadows, Prospect had clawed back to take the lead 24-23 in the final set. 

Uemura hung in slow motion as he hit the ball. The ball split the middle of two outstretched meadows blockers and grazed off the finger of a Meadows setter before crossing the out-of-bounds line. Jean-Walker field house became eerily quiet as every player, coach and fan turned their attention to the officials.

The official signaled tipped ball off of Meadows and Prospect erupted in celebration as meadows stood in disbelief. Prospect had won the east 25-23 for the first time in 13 years.


“We all kind of looked at each other, froze for a second then realized, wait we did it. It was honestly just crazy.” prospect setter Logan Hiskes said.

Prospect was never expected to be in this position at the beginning of the year. Prospect was seen as an average team without a setter, which head coach Mike Riedy refers to as the quarterback of volleyball.

“On paper nobody expected us to be as good as we are, and we have really surprised a lot of people this year,” Riedy said.

Rivals and players were taken by surprise as Prospect tore through the east only losing one in conference game during the season.

“At first glance, Prospect did not look like a very good team. But as we played I noticed that they had solid chemistry and were able to pull off great plays,” Hersey outside hitter Nate Meyer said.

The chemistry Meyer referred to is what propelled Prospect to an MSL east championship. Every player on the roster had a role and without them the team couldn’t function.

If I take any one of them off the court the team falls apart. They rely on each other, they support each other. It’s one of the most interesting teams I’ve ever coached”

— Mike Riedy

But even Riedy has no clue what started this chemistry.

“I don’t know where that [chemistry] came from. I’d like to claim that as coaching wizardry on my part, but it just happened,” Riedy said. “They’re not all friends, so it’s not that. It’s just this group of guys that happened to click.”

For Riedy, this team has a similar feeling to Prospect’s 2007 team that won the MSL. That 2007 team wasn’t expected to do anything within the conference at the beginning of the season but went on to win the east and rollover Barrington in the MSL championship.

“It’s freaky how many comparisons there are. So in 2007, we were a very similar team. Nobody really expected anything out of us then we started [stealing] a win from this team and that team, and then all of a sudden we won the east,” Riedy said.

Despite winning the east for the first time in 13 years, Prospect is solely focused on the road ahead.

“Winning the MSL east has been our goal since day one. We’ve done that now and we are not stopping here. We are going to do everything we can to take the  MSL crown and take that [momentum] into the postseason,” Hiskes said.

Prospect will take on Barrington in the MSL championship on Jun. 3, at 7, as they look to cap off their season with a Hollywood finish.

Catch the game here on KTV.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-05-29 05:38

Comfort: a simple bare necessity, often used to forget about your worries and your strife. For some, comfort means the smell of home-cooked waffles with nutella and strawberries or the feeling of fuzzy socks on a cold Midwestern day. For others, comfort might mean the sound of waves lapping against the shore or kicking back and relaxing with the people they love.

For junior Sophia Beauban comfort comes in the form of tarot cards. 

“It’s like a comfort food,” Beauban said. “If I’m stressed, I know I can shuffle my cards or maybe do a reading… If I need advice or anything, I can go to this deck of cards.” 

It all began when she bought a tapestry that piqued her curiosity a few months ago. Down the Google rabbit hole she went, learning about tarot cards and all their meanings.

The rabbit hole was indeed deep, with 78 cards in a deck and nearly three decks full of symbols, Beauban had a lot of learning to do. As she was just starting out, she tended to rely on guides provided in the card packs as well as YouTube videos to guide the way. 

After a while, constantly having to search for the meaning got tedious, so Beauban decided to create a journal of her own, packed with her personalized interpretations. She found that flipping through her own notes avoided the more stiff and textbook-certified interpretations that came from the typical guidebooks. 

For Beauban, the introduction to tarot was also a gateway to the world of crystals. It started off more as a “ooo this is so pretty” and eventually developed into something more. 

Beauban says there wasn’t a specific an aha moment when she decided to dive into crystals, but with her interest in tarot, crystals weren’t such a far leap. Her dad is also into tarot and was a guiding force in discovering her love for it. 

Soon enough, Beauban began shopping for crystals. Frequenting Crystal Earth and Rock Shop, Beauban uses the information cards as well as initial connection to the crystal to help pick out different crystals. 

Each of the crystals have different meanings and purposes. For example, blue kyanite helps to clear oneself for better communication and sleep. She finds it comforting that these tiny little rocks are there for her and likes wearing them in pouches and necklaces. 

It is important to note that the rocks don’t play favorites. Elise West, creator behind the Instagram account @grown.crystals, also found a love for crystals over quarantine.   

West has always been interested in crystals — a trait she thinks she inherited from both her mother and grandmother — and was recently able to rediscover her passion for them.West finally re-entered the world of crystals about one year ago.

After hours spent window shopping (or the online equivalent of it) on Etsy, West came to the realization that this was something she could partake in. About six months ago, she decided to take action and open her own shop. 

Most of what West learned was from observing others interacting within the crystal community on Instagram. When she first began, she didn’t really know how it all worked, but she remembers how kind and helpful people were when it came to figuring it out. 

Soon she was up and running. Hosting her own lives and coordinating with international vendors to get wholesales, West dove in headfirst.

One of the best things West discovered from her shop was the sense of community. While working with people who mine the crystals or other sellers, she was able to form connections she wouldn’t have otherwise been able to make during the lonely hours of the pandemic. 

Buying and selling crystals might have been the basis for the online relationships, but West found that the more she worked with people the more she got to know them. Soon conversations about the latest sale became inquiries about each other’s lives and soon a full fledged internet friendship was born. 

“It’s kind of like family,” West said. “I talk to them every day and we work together. They’re like coworkers to me.”

Along with the friendships, West also loved the joy other crystal affectionados are able to share with each other via Instagram. 

West specifically remembers when she sent a fire quartz tower to a fellow crystal lover in California. The recipient was so hyped to receive the tower that she brought it out on a mine. That mine turned out to be one of her best ever, as she discovered opal in the mountains. West remembers the pure joy she felt when her friend recounted the moment.

“Like I wasn’t even there,” West said. “But the day I heard about it I was so geeked out because ‘ahh my crystal.’”

The joy West shares with other crystal lovers combined with her own passion for crystals made the experience of owning her own shop worthwhile. 

For many people, crystals and tarot cards are just another quarantine hobby like making feta pasta or creating TikToks. But for West and Beauban, it was rediscovering a passion. The popularity combined with familial influence and extra free time convinced both of them to immerse themselves in the world of crystal and tarot. 

While crystal and tarot newbies should be advised of false information and do research for themselves, there is a great community out there that is eager to take them under its wings. Instead of waiting for a sign from the universe, the eight billionth Instagram ad or that final push, maybe it’s time to take the leap and follow the crystal-lined road. And hey, if it’s a rocky fall, I’m sure there is a crystal that can help you through it. 


Permalink - Posted on 2021-05-28 23:52

“Arlington Heights is a swimming town” Superintendent of recreational facilities Steve Neill said.

According to him, it’s been that way ever since the WPA finished Rec Park’s swimming pool in 1939. 

However, last season the Park district closed down Arlington’s pools for the beginning of the season, marking the first time the pool has closed its doors since the polio epidemic forced the park district’s hand in 1943.

Pools eventually were able to open up on June 26.  In the summer of 2020 with limited capacity. According to Neill, it was a very different feel in comparison to prior seasons.

“It was almost 100 degrees on the opening weekend of 2017 and there must have been 1,000 people in Pioneer pool. All you saw was heads.” Neil said.

Believe it or not, Arlington Heights has a chance to return to that experience with Illinois expected to move into phase 5 on Jun. 11. Illinois currently finds itself under the bridge phase, which allows for 100 people at the park districts’ pools. But, even if Illinois enters phase 5, capacity restrictions may not disappear. 

“When we enter [phase five] we’ll see what that new normal means. I don’t have a definition  on that yet” Neill said, “I don’t want to say 100% that [capacity restrictions] will go away, but we didn’t even know there was going to be a bridge phase until a month ago.”

For pool-goers even the news that pools have a chance to return to normal is thrilling

“It’s pretty exciting. I know a lot of people are excited to go back to the pool. Going to the pool is something that anyone can do on a day that you have nothing else to do. It’s nice just to sit back and relax” Junior John Svoboda said.

For the time being AHPD’s pools will still be reservation only. Similar to a restaurant setting, masks will be required while entering and walking around the pool. When a person enters the water they are able to take their mask off to swim. However, all guidelines will be subject to change with the peaks and valleys of the pandemic.

“We’re pivoting, evolving, changing, adapting, whatever word you want to use. That’s the way this whole year has been. Just like what you guys have gone through at school, every month is different”



Permalink - Posted on 2021-05-27 15:48

Reporters Matthew Niemczyk and Henry Kauke investigate how Prospect soccer fans felt about the European Super League. They also find out about its creation and ultimate failure.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-05-24 00:09

Pulling into a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru to get his coffee, the worker paused while handing World Religions teacher and former head basketball coach, John Camardella, his coffee and told him he was mad. Camardella was confused at this but understood when the worker proceeded to tell him that he couldn’t take his class. 

Camardella will be taking a sabbatical for the 2021-2022 school year, which is a period of paid leave granted to an employee so that they may study or travel, to spend a year studying in Cambridge, Mass. at Harvard University, and come back home on the weekends. Because of this, College World Religions, the class that is only taught by Camardella at Prospect, will not be offered next school year. 

“I love our program, I love this building, and I just want to take a year to deepen my own knowledge base and then come back here in service of our students and our community,” Camardella said. 

Since October of 2017, Camardella has been working closely with a small group called the Religion and Public Life Program under a fellowship at Harvard Divinity School (HDS). His goals were to rewrite his forty-week World Religion course at Prospect, and to develop graduate courses for teachers. 

He was asked in August of this school year to apply to a one-year masters intensive graduate degree program at HDS, which he agreed to. Camardella applied to the program, was accepted in and then asked District 214 for a sabbatical. He is grateful that his job will be available for him when he returns, as well as to the Prospect community, the administration and the school board who approved his sabbatical rights. 

Camardella, who is about halfway through his career, said he saw this opportunity coming about a year ago as a possibility, but it was never his goal as an educator; he has already achieved all required professional development by completing three masters degrees, and didn’t see himself taking a year off of what he loves to do. 

“I’m just crazy excited,” Camardella said. “I’m humbled by the opportunity and wanna really spend the second half of my career doing this work of deepening people’s understanding of religion and culture whether it’s at the high school level, graduate level, or with my colleagues.”

He will be taking 10 graduate courses, with only two being required, to complete the Master of Religion and Public Life (M.R.P.L.) degree, HDS’ first new masters degree program in over 50 years.

“For me also, there was some intriguing coolness factor of being able to be a part of the inaugural class,” Camardella said. 

He will take the two required courses, and with the help of his advisor he will then build his own masters degree to serve his purposes. While at Harvard, Camardella’s goal is to take some courses at the divinity school, but he also plans on trying to take some courses at the Kennedy School of Government, the law school and at the Graduate School of Education to learn as much as he can.

“I want to try and spend as much time as I can understanding how other people across time [and] across places have experienced the world,” Camardella said.

Camardella has also been building a flying schedule alongside his wife. He will be commuting to Boston and back every week to be on campus for class, lectures and research, and then come home to be a husband and father to his three kids.

This is also the reason he stepped down from his position as head basketball coach at Prospect after 18 years. 

“In order to do justice to this work basketball is not possible anymore,” Camardella said. “So it for sure will leave a hole in my life, but I also will probably be the loudest fan in the stands moving forward.” 

Camardella plans to fly out on Mondays, take classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and either fly back on Thursday or Friday nights, with the hope of returning home every weekend, which he said will total up to a lot of flyer miles. 

Upon his return to Prospect, Camardella’s goal is to surgically examine his lesson plans and what he asks students to do, offer incredible, rich learning opportunities and sharpen his skills to work with professionals and teachers. 

“I want to put myself in spaces and make my brain think in ways that maybe I’ve never done so before,” Camardella said. “And so when I think of studying religion and culture, as I teach my own students, the way we come at it is through our own situatedness, the way we have experienced the world so for me to put myself as a forty-year-old, six-foot white male who likes basketball, who’s Italian American, that’s the lens that I observe the world.”

For the juniors who won’t be able to take his class next school year, Camardella is sad that he won’t get to know them as seniors. However, the current sophomores who wish to take his class as seniors will have an opportunity to be exposed to what he hopes is one of the most broad and worthwhile learning experiences in the country, and be helped to think in a complex way for the world they will enter as adults. 

“I am sorry, and I don’t expect [the juniors] to understand, but I hope maybe one day they do,” Camardella said. “I’ve reached the point where I know what I don’t know and I’ve found an opportunity to go help fill in that gap of knowledge, and all good things take investment, sacrifice, and time. And, I need to dedicate time and energy and a lot of money to do this to then benefit what I hope is another couple decades of Prospect students.”



Permalink - Posted on 2021-05-20 23:56

The boys gymnastics team placed 6th in state this year after missing nearly their whole season in the spring of 2020. The last time the boys team qualified for state was 15 years ago in 2006. The state tournament took place in Hoffman Estates High School on Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th. 

Along with Prospect was Lyons Township, Niles West, Palatine, Mundelein, Glenbrook North, York, and Downers Grove North. Prospect’s gymnastics team is pretty stacked with young talent. 

This year they only had two seniors on the team. Callahan Kraft took 7th in state for the parallel bars and 14th in the all-round. 

Joe Kall also did really well in state, finishing 10th on pommel horse, 8th on rings, 5th on vault, 9th on parallel bars, and 11th on the high bars and 7th in the all-round. Getting 5th on vault earned him the only medal for Prospect in state. Assistant coach Aaron Marnstein, said that their goal is to go further in state next season.

“Our hope is to place higher than 6th and potentially compete for a state championship next year,” Coach Marnstein said.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-05-20 23:04

Frontier Days, for my family at least, is a week-long extravaganza. Our proximity to the Arlington Heights festival always makes for large gatherings that feature sweltering, face-melting heat that requires a fan the size of a small giraffe, lots of carnival games that will inevitably be lost and obnoxious goats that one must endure for the sake of the small children who are petting zoo diehards. 

The gathering of friends and family for the festival is definitely something I look forward to every summer. There is always so much to do, whether it be meeting up with friends and family at our annual cookout, defending my rib-eating contest crown or watching fireworks from the roof of my friend’s car. But then COVID-19 came along and threw a flaming wrench into everyone’s plans, including those for the 2020 festival.

I was disappointed, sure, but understood the decision. The safety of the community trumps my undying love of funnel cakes. The festival wasn’t the first thing to be canceled, and it most certainly would not be the last.

Fast forward a year later, and the suburbs find themselves at yet another crossroad, trying to come to a decision about reopening of summer activities, including the 2021 festivals. Arlington Heights opted to remain closed for the Frontier Days season while Elk Grove chose to open back up for its summer season. Now, I love attending the festival every year and understand the rationale behind both drastically different decisions. But, I can’t help but be concerned by the lack of safety restrictions and the gaggles of people that come along with the reopening of summer events such as the Elk Grove festival.

For the summer of 2021, Elk Grove has a full slate of events including Memorial Day activities, Rotary Fest, concerts and other community events. Neither masks nor social distancing is required at any of these events. 

According to the Mayor of Elk Grove, Craig Johnson, people can choose to wear masks and social distance, and masks will be provided for those who wish to wear them. Beyond these optional guidelines, the summer events in Elk Grove plan on returning to business as usual. This decision came weeks before the CDC’s recent announcement, stating that vaccinated people do not have to wear masks in any setting, unless it is in accordance with federal, state, or local guidelines. 

Upon hearing this, I will admit I was slightly surprised because it has been a hot second since we’ve been able to go out into the world naked-faced. Even if the villages decide that reopening is in their members best interests, I assumed some safety precautions would be in place. Instead, everyone is being tossed into a mask-less cesspool of funnel cake grease, sweat and oh-so-many germs.  

This decision comes in stark contrast to the decision made by Mayor of Arlington Heights, Tom Hayes. Arlington Heights ruled to not host their annual festival this year due to safety concerns. Both mayors explained multiple reasons as to why reopening was or was not was the right decision for their communities. 

For Johnson, the decision to reopen Elk Grove for typical summer activities was based on multiple factors. According to Johnson, money was not a consideration, as these festivals and activities are fully funded by the village itself. However, it is important to note that the businesses in the community will be greatly impacted by the influx of people flowing into the town for the events. 

Johnson said that the decision that was reached was based primarily on the COVID-19 numbers at the time as well as the fact that vaccination is available for many Elk Grove citizens who chose to get it. 

Since April 12, people 16 and over have had the option to get vaccinated. Even more recently, on May 10, Pfizer has been approved to administer their vaccine to people ages 12-15 on an emergency basis. The availability of vaccines to the public played a role in Johnson’s decision. 

“If people chose not to get vaccinated that’s their choice, their right, but for the rest of us, we’re moving on,” Johnson told The Prospector. “We’re going to get back to normal.”

If people chose not to get vaccinated that’s their choice, their right, but for the rest of us, we’re moving on. We’re going to get back to normal.”

— Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson

While it is true that vaccines are available for people over the age of 12, what does that mean for younger members of the community who still wish to get involved? As it currently stands, there is no available vaccine for those younger age groups that may be in attendance. 

While this wouldn’t be an issue for events that cater to a more adult audience, it does bring into question the target audience for some of the “community-oriented” events.

For example, on July 18 there is a Play, Party, Picnic that the village, library and park district work together to put on. The day is a community event where there are a multitude of activities for kids to participate in. 

Now, no shade to adults who want to make arts and crafts at this community event, but it seems to me that some of these activities target more of the younger audiences. Younger audiences who cannot be vaccinated at this time. Younger audiences who will not be protected by masks, social distancing, or vaccines during any of these events. Younger audiences who can continue to spread COVID-19 around the community. 

Not only will non-vaccinated minis contribute to the spread, it is important to mention that vaccinated adults might as well. The vaccine is an invaluable tool in order to return us to “normal” life, but no vaccine can be 100%. This goes for any vaccine; it’s not some miracle juice, rather its purpose is to prevent cases and limit the disease’s severity. As it currently stands, only 35.8% of the total population in the United States is vaccinated, which is not quite the percent needed to achieve herd immunity. 

If a large reason behind reopening is in fact the availability of vaccines, it seems irresponsible to host an event that caters to those who cannot yet receive it. Ultimately, the decision of masks, social distancing and vaccination is firmly falling into the hands of the individuals. Call me a cynic, but I’m not sure how much I trust the hands of the individual. Who knows where their hands have been?

According to Johnson, vaccination alone is not the sole reason for opening. The rising rates of mental health and alcoholism during the pandemic also played a role in the decision. He says that the people being stuck at homes creates conditions that allow rates of both mental health problems and alcoholism to rise. 

“We’ve gotten to the point where [the] disease is not as bad as the effects by being locked up [are],” Johnson said. “We got to get to the point where we’re back to normal in a safe way.”

This begs the question of what normal even means. Is it going into a time vortex and pretending the last year and a half don’t exist? Is it picking up the pieces from our current situation and trying to fit them all back together? Or is it somewhere in between? Whatever it means, I don’t think normal means rewind and start over. It seems like the meaning of normal is up to interpretation, as seen by the two contrasting decisions made by the Mayor of Elk Grove and the Mayor of Arlington Heights. 

Arlington Heights took a different approach when it comes to reopening. Erring more on the side of caution and interpreting the COVID-19 numbers at the time of the decision, they chose to remain closed for Frontier Days and other summer activities. 

Frontier Days is a not-for-profit organization that runs the 4th of July festivities in Arlington Heights every year. They have a close relationship with Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes and eventually decided the risk of putting everything together only for it to potentially fall through due to safety reasons wasn’t worth it. 

There is so much planning that goes into events such as Frontier Days, and it was important to Hayes to make sure everyone involved could be as safe as possible. 

“We want to open up as soon as possible,” Hayes said. “But we want to make sure whenever we do that we are keeping our residents and visitors safe. That’s really the ultimate concern for me and the festival volunteers and organizers … they just felt it wasn’t possible based on the situation at the time.”

While rides and bucketfuls of cotton candy are not currently on this summer’s agenda, that’s not to say that nothing entertainment-wise is coming to Arlington Heights. Instead, Hayes, on the behalf of Arlington Heights, plans on playing it by ear, adjusting the parameters and potential activities as the health guidelines continue to change. 

For the time being, Arlington Alfresco will continue to run at local restaurants in downtown Arlington Heights. Families will continue to have the opportunity to dine outside at any of downtown’s restaurants and bask in the glory of the great outdoors. 

There will also be outdoor Metropolis performances, starting with “Little Shop of Horrors” occurring right in front of North School Park on Eastman Avenue. Shows will take place in a tent with a 72-person capacity. 

And if things continue trending upwards, the chance for even more safely distanced events is within the realm of possibility for Arlington Heights. Restrictions are constantly changing, and if we just keep following safety guidelines, who knows what the circumstances will be two months from now. Depending on the numbers, the reopening of smaller, socially distanced events is still possible. Possible, that is, only if we do not move backwards by diving headfirst into a pool of maskless ick.

While fan-favorites like the art festival, concerts featuring everyone’s parents’ favorite band, American English, and pony rides might not be on the docket, Hayes says that the village of Arlington Heights will do everything they can to have some sort of safe event. Whether that means rides or something else, remains to be seen. 

 Sounds like there still might be hope for all of those people out there craving fair-certified hotdogs or a goat-tastic petting zoo adventure after all.