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District 225 Celebrates 75 Years of Excellence

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District 225 Celebrates 75 Years of Excellence



Glenbrook High School District 225 debuts its 75 Years of Excellence celebration for faculty during its annual Glenbrook Day.

On April 12, 1947, voters in Northfield Township approved the establishment of District 225 after District 29 in Northfield voted to remain a part of New Trier High School District 203. Before the establishment of District 225, students attended other area high schools, including Deerfield-Shields in Highland Park, New Trier in Winnetka, Niles, Maine High School, Carl Schurz, and Northbrook High School.

In honor of the 75th anniversary, District 225 is asking alums to share stories about their time in District 225. Please submit a video and or image with a quote about a favorite event, a story about a memorable staff member, or an experience that impacted your life. 

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As part of The Glenbrook Days celebration, the district welcomed Glenbrook North class of 1986 alumn Brian Abrams and Glenbrook South class of 1993 alumn Matt Saffar to speak to staff and share how their experiences at the Glenbrooks helped shape who they are today.

Abrams spoke to district staff about his feelings about being an ‘invisible’ student throughout high school. It, ultimately, was a teacher who went above and beyond to give him the courage to get out of his comfort zone. “The confidence to try, the resilience to fail and pick myself up without fearing what others think started here at GBN 40 years ago. It taught me that stepping outside my comfort zone could be exhilarating and have great results.”


After college, Abrams created the start-up company 'Corporate Imaging Concept LLC, where he served as the CEO and Board Chair until its sale. In 2016, he earned the industry’s entrepreneur of the year. Abram and his wife are the co-founders of Beacon Academy, the first Montessori-based high school in Illinois, where he serves as the founding board chair. Abrams serves on the Board of United Way Worldwide and is an entrepreneurship and corporate strategy professor in Loyola’s MBA program at Baumart Center. 

Saffar spoke to district staff about the impact after-school activities, clubs and sports have on students, which he called the 3:30s. “I am proud to say I know many alumni from both the Glenbrooks who are Broadway actors, rock stars and best-selling authors. The Glenbrooks are special because those 3:30s allow people to become the person they dreamed of in high school.”

Saffar currently is the Principal of the Law Offices of Mathew M. Saffar, head of the Guides and Princess program, president of the Factory Theater, and founder of ‘A Time to Ace NFP.’ In addition, Saffar serves as the Glenbrook Foundation chairman. His son is a GBN graduate and his daughter is currently a student. 

Superintendent Dr. Charles Johns said, “I am amazed at a large number of accomplished alumni the Glenbrooks have produced over the last 75 years. It is a tremendous testament to our outstanding staff, community support, and excellent students. It has been gratifying to learn how our graduates used what they learned in our schools as a foundation for success in various fields and careers that impact their communities. We look forward to highlighting and celebrating our alumni with stories throughout the year.”

Dr. Johns is only the seventh superintendent of the district. The first was Dr. Norman E. Watson, who served from 1947 to 1964. Watson also served as principal for Glenbrook North High School until 1960, when the school hired its first full-time principal, Dr. Francis Trusty. 

In an article published in the Northbrook News (Jan. 28, 1949), Watson said, “We do not wish, in the Northfield Township High School, to copy any of our neighbors entirely. We are surrounded by many superior high schools, which constitutes a challenge to our planning. At the same time, however, we do not deem it wise to copy a plan. We should be grateful for those splendid ideas developed in all of them, but we do hope on our own initiative to develop a school which will best serve the people of Northfield Township.” 

Even though the district was established in 1947, it wouldn’t be until September 8, 1953, that Glenbrook High School would open for the first time in a building now known as Glenbrook North High School.


Glenbrook North Class of 1974 graduate Ed McNally reflected on how Northbrook evolved from a community of farms to a newly minted post-World War II suburb, “It’s a unique place different from Winnetka and different from Wheeling. The number of people from this high school who conquered the world in many different fields in many different parts of the country is absolutely astonishing.”

McNally is a former United States Attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney appointed by President George W. Bush following the September 11 attacks as the nation’s first General Counsel for homeland security and counter-terrorism. He is currently an attorney in the Southern District of New York.

McNally wrote Glenbrook North’s Creed and helped create the first student association board that is still used by the school today. 

According to Glenbrook South High School’s 50 Titans Strike Gold, a population study done by the University of Chicago in the 1950s, incoming residents would double the size of Glenbrook High School. The study laid the foundation for the opening of Glenbrook South High School in 1962. 

Glenbrook South’s first principal Dr. Sydney Salt said, “Glenbrook South is more than the name for an 80-acre cornfield I visited in early 1961. It means ‘community team’ in my reflection. Students, parents, elected officials, citizens with or without children, educators, and all others - yes, even our planned rivals at Glenbrook North - were an open-minded team, helpful in defining the ‘School of the Future.’” 


Throughout the years, staff members have impacted generations of students. One such staff member was Ms. Carolyn Glass, a  paraprofessional at Glenbrook South from 1968 to 2005. At a pep assembly, she got the nickname ‘Mama Glass’ when the principal announced, “Rock and roll has Mama Cass; Glenbrook South has Mama Glass.” According to Glenbrook South High School’s 50 Titans Strike Gold, Glass was chosen as one of eight Chicago women by the Midwest Region of the International B’ nai B’rith organization as a recipient of its Women of Valor Distinguished Achievement Award. 

Glenbrook South Class of 1984 alum and current GBS teacher Matt Whipple said Mama Glass rescued him on his first day of school, “She escorted me to my first class, which was biology.”

Whipple was not the only student who took what he learned and excelled. Glenbrook South 2007 graduate and host of the Food Networks cooking show ‘Girl Meets Farm.’ Molly Yeh said she uses a lot of what she learned as a high school student in her career.

“I think about GBS all the time. I learned so many things there that I use daily. I use math that I learned from Ms. Flenner’s precalculus class to develop cake recipes. I use grammar that I learned from Mrs. Middleton and Mrs. Meyer to write cookbooks. I use chemistry that I learned from Mr. Doody to make my blueberry muffins stay blue and not turn a weird color of greenish gray,” Yeh said.

Glenbrook District 225 is confident it will continue to produce alums who significantly contribute to the world.

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