Ancona celebrates 50 years in style

By Daschell M. Phillips
Staff Writer

The Ancona School held its 50th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, May 4, downtown at the Chicago Marriott, 520 N. Michigan Ave.

Friends and family of Ancona gathered in their finery to celebrate a school that began from humble beginnings to become one of the most sought-after private schools in the community.

At the gala, Bonnie Wishne, head of Ancona, 4770 S. Dorchester Ave., presented the Spirit of Ancona Award to Ancona alumni and parents Joshua Schwartz and Janet Geovanis. She also gave special recognition to Ancona educator Zeus Preckwinkle, who will retire in June. Ancona teachers Wayne Baldwin and Marsha Stewart were given the Teaching Excellence Award.

Geovanis related a story during her acceptance remarks regarding a son who, despite learning challenges, thrived in the Ancona environment, while Schwartz described how his own perceptions were transformed through immersion in the Ancona community, where the aptitude and sophistication of a diverse body of parents and teachers exploded his prejudices and preconceptions.

Other highlights of the event included a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner, dessert, dancing and a video presentation featuring Ancona founders, staff members, alumni and current students. There was also a heads and tails raffle where 2009 Ancona alumnus Andrew Williams won $1,000.

In 1962, five Hyde Park families, including Hyde Park Herald Publisher Bruce Sagan, founded Ancona. The gala was a culmination of a yearlong host of events celebrating the school’s longevity that included the opening of the school’s historical exhibit, a coat drive, a forum on the topic of diversity, Grandparents Day and incidentally the announcement of retirement plans of Preckwinkle and Wishne, who plans to retire in 2015.