Recognizing another round of Rory Award winners
While Barry Bakal’s more recent support of The Rory David Deutsch Foundation revolved around his golf swinging stamina, his involvement with The Foundation stretches back to its beginnings. He takes pride in having initiated and sponsoring an award that for ten years has recognized students whose artistic expression reflects the noble character and good citizenship Rory displayed in his short life.
The Rory Award complements the “CARE” program at Indian Trail School in Highland Park, which Rory attended. The “CARE” program nurtures a giving spirit by providing Indian Trail students with support and activities that ensure that they feel valued and respected. “Each year the school chooses a pillar of character to build a school theme around,” Barry explains. “Through the program, students submit essays or artistic drawings based on the theme and then two extraordinary submissions are selected, and those students receive The Rory Award.”
The two Rory Award winners in 2008 went to girls at Indian Trail. Fifth-grader Ali Fraerman took the honor for her written expression of good citizenship, and first grader Reece Elowe for her artistic work. “The Rory Award is a big deal at the school, and students always look forward to it,” says Barry. “Every age group is aware of the award and of Rory. It’s the same way in the surrounding community. When you mention Rory in the Highland Park area, everyone knows who you are talking about.”
This is particularly true at Indian Trail, where a special area in the school library honors Rory’s memory. Greeted by a sign that reads, “Rory’s Reading Room,” this intimate space is decorated, as Rory would have wanted, with a galaxy of stars, planets, and moons. “Students often read stories in this space, and I’m sure they think of ideas for their Rory Award project,” says Barry. “It’s hard to believe that the first Rory Award winners are now in college. That’s just another example of the impact Rory has had on the lives of so many.” Through The Rory Award and Rory’s Reading Room, there are sure to be many more that will be inspired by him as well.