Niles North Announced its 2023 Distinguished Alumni!


* * Distinguished Alum 2023 * *
Jody Cassman Gitelis, Niles North Class of 1969

Jody Cassman Gitelis graduated from Niles North in 1969.  As a student she served on student senate and on many committees including those for pep assemblies, homecoming, and girls’ dress code. Thanks to her work on the dress code committee, Niles North adopted the option for girls to wear pants to school.  Jody was a PE leader, cheerleader, and homecoming queen. She graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in Education.  She married her high school sweetheart and together they have three children.

Jody has spent the last 47 years coaching girls’ track and field at the high school level, spending the last 36 years at Barrington High School. She has coached numerous individual All Conference athletes and State Medalists; two of her teams have achieved the State Runner-Up Title.  She has been inducted into the Illinois Track and Cross Country Association’s Hall of Fame, selected by Illinois High School Association as Girls’ Track and Field Coach of the Year in 2008, and guided the Barrington High School Fillies to the state championships in 2007.  She has had a tremendous impact on the hundreds of girls she has coached both on and off the track.

Her former students have said, “Running has shaped my life,” and the Track & Field program Jody cultivated at Barrington High School fostered not only a love for running, but a desire to want to better oneself and overcome challenges.  She coached the entire athlete with compassion, not just focusing on improving speed or technique or winning meets, but focusing on improving mental strength and having a positive outlook.  She motivates, empowers, empathizes and believes in her students.  Jody teaches the value of creative problem solving and the importance of considering the input of others’ who have more experience and wisdom.

Jody’s guidance and positive coaching style continues to produce teams that come together to achieve so much more than they ever could have without her at the helm.  Her tireless work ethic and commitment to student growth and development have helped countless students meet their potential and face challenges they were experiencing outside of school.  She has been shaping the lives of young women, helping them achieve their dreams and be successful in life, empowering them to be strong and to believe in themselves.

It is important to remember that Jody’s role as a female head coach was not common 45 years ago. She has been a forerunner and her name continues to be legendary in Illinois when it comes to coaching Girls’ Track and Field and her impact on her athletes has led some of them to become successful coaches in the state as well. Those women always make it a point to come and see Jody and reiterate what a great role model they had and their own hope to impact the lives of young women just like she did for them.

Jody Gitelis undoubtedly engraved her mark, whether through the visible records set and awards achieved, or through invisible thumbprints imprinted on countless young female athletes’ hearts and minds. She is a perfect representation of what a Niles North Distinguished Alumnus exemplifies.

Niles North Distinguished Alumnus Award 2022-23 Nomination

Niles North High School is seeking nominations for the Distinguished Alumnus award. Nominations shall include supporting documentation about the nominee such as achievements in their field, significant contributions to their community, and their association with Niles North.

The award recipient will be requested to attend our annual Awards of Distinction program to accept their award and give a brief speech about their experiences in high school and post high school. The 56th Awards of Distinction will take place in May, 2022 (Exact Date, In-person or Virtual, TBD). At this ceremony, current students are also recognized for their accomplishments in areas of athletics, scholarship, and community engagement.

Previous nominations are taken into consideration each year. Nominations are accepted until February 28, 2023. Questions about this award, the nomination process, or selection process can be sent to [email protected].

Selection is made based on the following criteria:

  1. Graduated from Niles North.
  2. Attended at least three years of high school at a District 219 high school (this can also include Niles East).
  3. Has made a significant contribution to his or her field and/or in the community, and
  4. Had a meaningful experience as a student at Niles North High School.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
(1989 to Present)

2023 – Jody Cassman Gitelis, ’69
2022 – Lori Andre, ’76
2021 – Jayesh Rathod, ’93
2020 – Dr. Roxanne Henkin, ’69
2019 – Jose Moreno, ’02
2018 – Gregg Fleisher, ’79
2017 – Dr. Mark Rasenick, ’67
2016 – Marina Pazin, ‘00
2015 – Maxine Winer, ’79
2014 – Julie Smolyansky, ’93
2013 – David Ko, ’97
2012 – Dr. Michael Ruchim, ’72
2011 – Michael Kim, ’74
2010 – Dean Klassman, ’74
2009 – Pankaj Sharma, ’98
2008 – David Walton, ’94
2007 – Marc Silverman, ’89
2006 – Ross Deutsch, ’79
2005 – Carrie Hightman, ’75
2004 – Paul Toback, ’81
2003 – David Rosengard, ’70
2002 – Michael Jay Margules, ’78
2001 – Lynn Schreiber Price , ’73

  • “I was honored as a Distinguished alum several years back. Very touching. Most wonderful moment was I didn’t realize it was being televised on the local TV station. In my acceptance speech, I talked about three NN teachers who made a difference in my life. Turns out one of their friends was watching the show, called her, and subsequently I received a letter from her.
    Wonderful to be able to say thank you so many years later. ” – Lynn (Schreiber) Price, -73

2000 – Marc Schulman, ’72
1999 – Howard Friend, ’69
1998 – The Hon. Louis Lang, ’67
1997 – Edie Turovitz Kasten, ’75
1996 – Michael Krasny, ’71
1995 – Jay Footlik, ’83
1994 – Allen Sutker & Mark Polinsky, ’79
1993 – Neal Sabin, ’74
1992 – Irene Suzukida, ’70
1991 – Capt. Daniel L. Ley, ’77
1990 – Paul Lisnek, ’76
1989 – Dr. Steven Gitelis, ’69