Those Who Make a Difference

Those Who Make A Difference Award Winners



Niles West sophomore Emmanuella Anyanwoke, Niles West Physical Welfare Director Omar Alebiosu and Niles North freshman Corban (CJ) Hood-Webb were in the spotlight February 9, when the Niles Township High School District 219 Board of Education honored them with its Those Who Make A Difference Award.

  Emmanuella West student

Niles West Principal Karen Ritter recognized Anyanwoke and Alebiosu for organizing D219’s first-ever Black Teen Summit, which will be held on February 24 as a culmination to the district’s celebration of Black History Month. 

“Emmanuella came to Niles West two 2 years ago from Nigeria to our EL (English Learners) program,” Ritter said. “She is modest and reserved, and when I asked her about her involvement in planning the Black Teen Summit, she said, ‘Oh, you know, I attended some meetings and gave some ideas,’ but when I talked to Omar Alebiosu, he said she is an amazing student who provides valuable insight into the Black teen experience, and when Emmanuella talks, people listen.”

“Emmanuella received the Niles West Principal’s Recognition Award last year. She considers herself an introvert, and she thanks her teachers, Ms. (Science teacher Poonam) Patel and Ms. (ELL teacher Jennifer) Meyer for helping her break out of her shell, and we are so glad she did. We are seeing the magnificent contributions that Emmanuella has already made at Niles West and we are excited to see what she will continue to do. When I asked Emmanuella what she was looking forward to most at the Black Teen Summit, she said she is most excited to see the event’s keynote speaker, none other than our very own Ms. April Stallworth! Because we all know when April talks, people listen!”

(April Stallworth is Executive Assistant to Superintendent Steven Isoye and Recording Secretary for the Board of Education.)

Niles West Director

“Another key person in organizing the inaugural Black Teen Summit at D219 is Physical Welfare Director, Mr. Omar Alebiosu,” Ritter said. “Omar, too, is very modest about the work he’s done, and he wanted to point out all of the help and support he received from his colleagues in the district who helped put this event together, like Carl Alexander, Deitrick Mitchell, Jason Stanford, Dillin Randolph, Larry English, Steve Parnther, Justin Johnson, Anita Baker, Carla Green, April Stallworth, Oyin Idowu, Adebola Adeniyi, Katie Odell, Caroline Benjamin, and Kia Pickett. 

“This planning committee made up of teachers, staff, administrators, and students like Emmanuella have been meeting, planning, sharing ideas, and collaborating to bring this event to life this year,” Ritter said. “There is such diversity within the Black community, and this is a day to celebrate those who identify as Black, African-American, Afro-Carribean, and Afro-Latino and for them to come together in unity and community. Planning any community event is a huge undertaking, and to do this remotely is even more challenging. Thank you to everyone involved in the planning of this event. 

“Emmanuella and Mr. Alebiosu have the same objective for the Black Teen Summit, which is to organize an event that will make our Black community feel welcomed, feel uplifted, and feel celebrated. While this will be a day of celebration, the uplifting and supporting of our Black community should not happen only on that day and should not happen only within the Black community,” Ritter said. “We all need to do a better job of lifting up and supporting our Black staff and students. Thank you Emanuella Anyanwoke and Omar Alebiosu for making a difference for so many in our D219 community. You are role models for all of us, and we can all follow your lead in supporting our D219 community.”

Niles North Principal James Edwards honored Corban (CJ) Hood-Webb for the leadership he has shown to his classmates during remote learning.


Edwards said CJ comes from a family “of very hard working people and although success is very important to them, genuineness and dedication is held above all. They push you to be yourself and to know who you are as an individual. His family is filled with lawyers, musicians, healthcare professionals, athletes, but overall genuine people that want to see their family members succeed.”

After high school, CJ aspires to be a Division 1 student-athlete majoring in Business/Real Estate and minoring in Economics or Applied Mathematics, Engineering or Physics, “in hopes of one day being in the NFL and MLB and having my degrees to fall back on after my career,” he says. “I also aspire to be a positive role model in my family, my community, and in the world.”

Besides his schoolwork, Edwards said, CJ keeps himself busy with sports. “He is currently practicing with his travel baseball team preparing for the 2021 season and will soon be doing the same for North football and baseball.” 

Social Studies teacher Aaron Minkus says, “In a world of little boxes filled with images of ceiling fans, kitchen cabinets and screens with only a first name on it, CJ is a ray of light. To be frank, I count on him for needed inspiration boosts during remote teaching. He throws himself into every class and brings nothing but happiness and energy. The world needs more people like CJ during these stressful times.”

English teacher Jason Mormolstein says, “CJ is an incredibly talented musician (seriously, ask him about his SoundCloud), and it was great having him share his creativity with our Digital Storytelling class. Corban was a reliably motivated, creative, and positive presence in our class.”

Spanish teacher Tom Neal says, “Corban has been a delight to work with this year!  He’s a conscientious, respectful young man who always strives to achieve his personal best.  ¡Felicidades y buen trabajo!” 

Physical Welfare teacher Mark Egofske says, “CJ shows up to class on time and ready to get after the workout that is on the horizon! CJ has great energy and is a positive force. He is a leader in our class and our go to’ when I need a student to demonstrate a new motor skill. Most importantly, CJ is a tremendous role model who makes us all work harder.” 

“CJ has shown consistent diligence and investment in his work in biology, where his energy and focus have positively influenced his learning groups (i.e. the breakout rooms), and contributing positively to the overall class learning” says Science teacher Tom Chung.

“Corban is a selfless, kind, and generous human,” says English teacher Amanda Hussain. “He is probably the student I have been able to get to know best during remote learning, and all due to his own actions.  To hear him talk about his family, his love for sports, how this year is going for him — you see insight and maturity that even most adults don’t have during this time. I wish there were a million more Corbans in the world, but the truth is, he is one of a kind!”

Edwards ended his tribute by saying, “And by the way, CJ is a freshman!”