Merv Roberts (center) with current Board of Education President Steve Frost (right) and former board president Bruce Lubin.
Merv Roberts, the longest-serving member in District 125 Board of Education history, received the 2019 Heritage Award during a ceremony Monday, Aug. 19. He was honored by current and former board members and administrators, previous Heritage Award recipients, retired and current faculty members, and alumni.
The Heritage Award is given annually to individuals who have made a significant impact on Adlai E. Stevenson High School. Since its inception in 1985, Heritage Award recipients have included former faculty and staff, community members, and alumni. Their contributions have been vast and varied, providing powerful legacies for the current members of the Stevenson community, and for those to come.
Roberts is the longest-serving member of the Adlai E. Stevenson High School District 125 Board of Education. He served on the board from 1981 to 2018, and was president from 1984 to 2000. His 37-year tenure is the longest in the district’s 53-year history. Roberts guided the school board through an extraordinary time of change and growth at Stevenson. Among the highlights from his presidency:
- Stevenson earned three of its four Blue Ribbon Awards for Educational Excellence from the U.S. Department of Education, in 1987, 1991 and 1998. Stevenson was the first Lake County high school to earn the honor.
- In 1998, SHS was one of seven high schools in the country selected by the U.S. Department of Education for its New American Schools Award. The award recognized high-achieving schools committed to high standards for all students.
- Stevenson’s enrollment exploded, growing from 1,641 students when Roberts began as president to 3,728 when he handed over the gavel.
- District residents supported a 1993 referendum that allowed Stevenson to remain as one school and expand it to accommodate a growing student population, rather than building a second high school in the district. The result was a 225,000-square-foot East Building expansion that was twice as large as the original school building. The project also added such notable features as the Performing Arts Center, Patriot Aquatic Center and 60 classrooms.
- Stevenson made multiple appearances in national high school rankings produced by publications such as U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, the Washington Post and Redbook.
During his time as school board president, Roberts also spent 10 years as director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, from 1991 to 2001. He also was active with the IASB’s Lake Division, serving on its executive committee from 1983 to 2001, and as division chairman from 1987 to 1991.
In 1996, Roberts received the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award from the Illinois Association of Schools Boards in 1996. The award recognizes the state’s outstanding local school board president and is named in honor of the late chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education.
His leadership helped the Board of Education earn the American School Board Journal’s Magna Award in 2002, one of only three school boards in the country to earn the honor. The board was chosen because of its pursuit of success for every student by replacing a sorting and selecting approach with a commitment to help all students achieve high academic standards by providing extra support and time for students and staff.
Prior to his election, the longtime Lincolnshire resident served on the village’s plan commission from 1976 to 1981, and was its chairman his final three years. As chairman, the commission approved the creation of the Lincolnshire Corporate Center, and developed a zoning ordinance that protected environmentally sensitive areas of the village while helping to maintain its character. He was named Lincolnshire’s Citizen of the Year in 2011.
District 125 Heritage Award Recipients
Merv Roberts (former school board member)
Nancy Nichols (resident)
Dr. Timothy Kanold (former superintendent and administrator)
Adlai E. Stevenson III and Nancy Stevenson
Paul Swan (former teacher)
Diane Holder and Les Raff (former school board members)
Dolores Fischer (former teacher)
Aaron Elster (resident)
Chris Franken (former teacher, administrator)
John and Dottie Westerberg (residents)
Oscar Muniz (former staff member)
Dr. Richard DuFour (former superintendent and principal)
Elliott Hartstein and Barbara LaPiana (former school board members)
Sam Ritchie (former teacher and academic division director)
Richard Cromartie, Roger Nelson, Travis Nelson, William Salzman, Daniel Schuffman, Lorenz Schmidt and George Weiland (founding school board)
Tom Hoyne (resident) and Bill Misik (former teacher)
Andrea Jaeger (alumnus)
Tom Baumann and Jim McGrath (former teachers)
Inez Freed (resident and former Patriot Parent Association president)
Kelly Cox (former teacher and athletic director)
Pat Wilder (former school board member)
Dr. Harold Banser (first superintendent)
Frank and Verna Clayton (former school board member - Frank)
Dr. Milton R. Herzog (former superintendent)
Bill Salzman (former school board member)
Dave Hanson (former teacher)
Ralph and Bev Valdes (residents)
Bill Ebenezer and June Bergquist (former teachers)
Alice Moody (former school board member)
Ed Ellis (former business manager)
William and Virginia Park (residents)
Conrad Thorne and Gloria Helke (former school board members)
Lydia Jesse (former staff member)
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Ward (residents)