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Sam Mikaelian Fine Arts Fund Events

The District 39 Educational Foundation sponsors complimentary cultural arts events for the community through the Sam Mikaelian Fine Arts Fund (SAM Fund). This special endowment was created in 1998 in honor of the retiring Wilmette superintendent’s 31 years of exceptional service to the District.


Past Sam Mikaelian Fine Arts Fund events showcased include:

  • In the spring of 2021, the D39 Educational Foundation reached out to D39 students and families and asked “What is your Silver Lining?” The goal was to find and share the positive amongst the unknown of COVID-19. Learn more HERE .
  • 2019 WJHS “Empowered to Be Yourself” creative self portrait photography project. Using photography as a voice, they expressed their ideas, passions, and even fears. In an age where kids are constantly being compared to one another, this exhibit showed how diverse they all are…and why this is a beautiful thing.
  • 2018 Bathroom Wall Art Frames that display rotating art created by HMS and WJHS students featuring inspirational messaging.
  • 2017 Courageous People workshop with Swiss artist-in-residence Verena Brassel provided students with an opportunity to create a textural collage of a courageous figure from history while making connections across curriculum and exploring different world views.
  • 2017 ComedySportz improv for Highcrest Middle School 6th graders with focus on active practice of working together and respecting one another.
  • 2014 Rack It! Public Art Project D39 student-designed bike racks fabricated and placed at the Wilmette Park District and Village Hall. This project culminated in a community bike ride.
  • In 2011, our sixth and most ambitious SAM event was Wilmette does Shakespeare, complete with flash mobs, a performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and related celebrations at the library and Wilmette Theatre.
  • In 2008, The Second City improvisational group gave a tailor-written performance for the Village of Wilmette.
  • Our 2006 event featured the Holy Goat Ensemble and the Jubilate Children’s Choir presenting the music of West Africa.
  • In 2004, the community was treated to popular Broadway tunes in Broadway Ballyhoo.
  • In 2002, the Gus Giordano Jazz Dance group performed for the Wilmette community.
  • In 2000, our SAM Mikaelian Fine Arts event showcased internationally acclaimed violinist Rachel Barton.

Each SAM event is accompanied by a related in-school enrichment project or presentation.




With the help of District 39 students, the Foundation facilitated the fabrication and installation of two artistic bike racks in the Village of Wilmette.  The Rack*It Project began in the art classes at all six District 39 Schools this Fall when the children were invited to design a bike rack that represents the community of Wilmette. 

All designs were submitted by October 31st. Each school reviewed the designs submitted by the children and selected five designs to submit for consideration.  A Design Committee, comprised of teachers from the District 39 Art Department,  Foundation members, cycling advocates and community stakeholders chose three designs from those submitted by all six schools. After careful consideration and review, two designs were selected – one by Elle Linetsky from Central School and the other by Nika Chuzhoy from Highcrest Middle School.

The bike racks were created by metal fabricator and D39 alumni, Austin Bader. The Foundation hosted the Rack*It Bike Tour and unveiling presentations for the community on May 9th. One new rack was installed outside the Wilmette Village Hall and a second at the Community Recreation Center. Each bike rack design is unique and is a functional piece of art that represents the Wilmette community.