CPS Senior Athletes Honored With Classroom Surprise After Standing Up For Student Runners During Teacher Strike

Ariel Parrella-Aureli
December 07, 2019 - 3:23 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – Two seniors from Jones College Prep and Taft High School received a public honor and a surprise gift for their community efforts in supporting student athletes sidelined during The Illinois High School Association state playoffs while the Chicago Teachers Union was in effect.

Jones College Prep senior Ian Bacon and Taft senior Sydney Partyka were two of the faces and voices of CPS student athletes heard consistently during the CTU strike this past fall.

On Dec. 6, the students received a surprise gift to their classrooms: tickets to the B96 Jingle Bash and to the Chicago Blackhawks game, as well as $100 checks to donate to their preferred local community-based charities to help enhance the lives of others by the Making A Difference On and Off The Field campaign, presented by Buddy’s HELPERS and the PepsiCo Showdown Sports Series.

“With grace, the duo consistently stood up for all student athletes throughout Chicago impacted by the strike, as they tried to help all players and teams sidelined during the IHSA state playoffs,” said Joe Trost, executive director and founder at Buddy’s HELPERS.


Sydney Partyka, a three-time state qualifier in girls cross-country and an MVP of girls track, won tickets to the B96 Jingle Bash as a thank you from Buddy’s Helpers. (Joe Trost)
Trost said.

The Taft senior volunteers at organizations including the Chicago Pet Rescue, PTA and CPS’ freshmen connection and said this kind of community work, including standing up for the student athletes impacted by the CTU strike, is important.

“Making a difference in the lives of others is extremely important to me, even if it’s the smallest thing,” Partyka said. “Allowing others to have a better opportunity then I ever could makes me feel good — especially when it comes to unfair policies that inhibit kids to pursue their dreams.” 

Bacon, the cross-country team captain at Jones, qualified for state in boys cross-country and track during his IHSA career, Trost said. He’s seen as a mentor to student athletes in his community, specifically helping students with disabilities, he said.

Ian and classmates
Ian Bacon received a surprise gift Dec. 6 to his classroom: a big check and tickets to the Blackhawks. (Joe Trost)

Bacon said he likes to make others happy by standing up for what is right and creating support through student communities.

"It feels great to be able to contribute to your community, and see the impact of it day by day," Bacon said. "If you stand up and use your voice to advocate for what you believe in you and for the things that you love, you can really make a difference.”

The senior also volunteers for Camp Invention, an engineering camp for first to fifth graders and helps with a program called “Recyclery” and local dog shelter.

In October, the two students were on the frontlines of the legal battle between IHSA and CPS students fighting to compete in the state cross country playoffs, despite the ISHA laws prohibiting student athletic playoffs while school was not in session.

Jones College Prep senior Ian Bacon and Taft senior Sydney Partyka
Jones College Prep senior Ian Bacon and Taft senior Sydney Partyka received media attention as two of the faces and voices of CPS student athletes heard consistently during the CTU strike. (Joe Trost)

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But after heated pressure from students, lawyers and organizations like Buddy’s, a judge allowed several schools to run and IHSA dropped its appeal against CPS students. The announcement came hours before the regional tournament was set to begin, a day after after the strike was over.

“I am fully relieved and extremely excited that I will be able to compete in the state meet without any hindrance,” Partyka told reporters Nov. 12 after the ruling came out.

The IHSA originally said CPS students could not compete in Illinois state cross-country meets because of a teachers’ strike last month. CPS students then sued the IHSA and CPS for denying them eligibility to compete, saying it was not fair; it was squashing their careers and their college potential, like Partyka's.