TF South celebrates fourth annual Signing Day

Fourth Annual College Signing Day

Students announce their decisions, and recipients of inaugural scholarship announced at Signing Day


LANSING, Ill. (May 9, 2022) – Thornton Fractional South High School hosted its fourth annual College Signing Day last Thursday. Students announced their name and post-high school decision, followed by signing the event’s sign and posing for a photo.

Students decided to either continue their education, go straight to work with a trade or career, or serving the country in a branch of the military. Throughout the event, there were various raffles for prizes including gift cards to a few local restaurants, a chromebook, and a 43-inch television.

Class of 2022

This year’s graduating class earned a combined $7.4 million in scholarship money as of the day of the event, with more expected to come. This year, TF South was one of the participating schools in the country that attended classes taught by Harvard University and Howard University professors. 30 students finished top in the country, including some of the graduating seniors.

John O’Rourke, Assistant Principal for Pupil Personnel Services, led the event. O’Rourke, along with Speech Pathologist Ayanna Dowd and Assistant Principal for Pupil Personnel Kim Taylor, started the event to honor students moving to the next chapter of their lives.

Though the event has been streamed the past two years, O’Rourke was excited to get back together in person this year.

“We continued through the pandemic, but nothing is like hearing a crowd of students, teachers, and family cheering,” said O’Rourke.

Inaugural Lori Potacki Memorial Scholarship

Three student athletes received the inaugural Lori Potacki Memorial Scholarship, named after former TF South teacher and coach Lori Potacki, who passed away in 2020. The scholarship was created to provide financial opportunities to three current TF South students. This year’s recipients were Mya Durr, Aliza Olivares, and Nidia Hernandez.

Guidance Counselor Nicole Burk and Social Studies Teacher Jamie Sawyer presented the scholarship awards. The memorial scholarship was established by the parents of Potacki. During her 14 years at TFS, she worked in various departments including physical education, math, guidance, English, and special education. She was the coach for the Girls Swim team and Associate Head Coach for the Girls Softball team.

Student reflections

Nicholas England will be going to the United States Marine Corp. England chose this path because of its fitness, discipline, and structure benefits.

“I’ll miss the different social structures in high school,” said England.

Zabdiel Silva Tapia will be attending Johns Hopkins University, where he will be majoring in neuroscience on a pre-med track.

“Johns Hopkins was my medical school, and I’ve been given this humongous blessing to be able to attend John Hopkins University and hopefully get a shot at their medical school program,” he said.

Korey Ziemkowski will attend South Suburban College for two years for a degree in Business administration, followed by Elmhurst University for a nonprofit program.

“I chose South Suburban so I can continue to run my micro-pantries out of Lansing,” said Ziemkowski.

Audrey Ortega will attend University of Illinois at Chicago to major in Accounting.

“I think I’ll miss the teachers here because they are all nice, caring, and push you towards education,” said Ortega.

All graduating seniors will be receiving a “freshmen essentials” basket. The baskets will be filled with items that students will need their first year of college, such as cleaning supplies and school supplies.

TF South is located at 18500 Burnham Avenue in Lansing.


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Quinton R. Arthur
Quinton received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Northern Illinois University and his Master of Science in Journalism from Roosevelt University. In addition to reporting for The Lansing Journal and the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, he volunteers with 100 Black Men of Chicago, Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Burst Into Books, and various other organizations. A south suburban resident since 2004, Quinton is passionate about telling the unsung stories of the community.