At Eli’s, we always have a special place in our hearts for Bridge Elementary School.
Diana Moles, our Director of Product Development and Quality, was a graduate of Bridge and lived just blocks away from Eli’s and Bridge when she joined us in 1988. Diana’s homeroom and science teacher was Edwin Gale, who later became Principal of Bridge. Today, Mr. Gale’s daughter-in-law, Mary Gale, is head of the Eli’s Cheesecake Foundation, and is married to Lt. Jeff Gale of the Chicago Police Department.
For that reason, it was an honor for Marc Schulman to be invited to be the Commencement Speaker at the 2007 Bridge Graduation. The remarks to the graduates were summarized in the article below that appeared in the Harlem-Irving Times.
There were 73 graduates in the Class of 2007 at Bridge Elementary.
Dr. Christopher Brake, Principal of Bridge, recognized Montel Williams and a number of other graduates for their achievements at Bridge. The young women in the graduating class celebrate the day with a song.
Marc Schulman congratulates the graduates. On the right, Marc is pictured with Mary Gale, daughter-in-law of the late Edwin Gale, and Principal of Bridge, and Ryan Carroll, son of Eli’s Patti Carroll and a 2007 graduate of
St. Priscilla’s in the Eli’s neighborhood.
If it’s June, there are graduations. If there are graduations, there are speeches.
On June 11 Marc Schulman, president of Eli’s Cheesecake World, 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, in Chicago, addressed the 73 members of the Class of 2007 at Bridge Elementary School, 3800 N. New England Ave., in Chicago.
“I was honored to speak to your class because of your amazing record of achievements,” Schulman said, adding Bridge Principal Christopher Brake had told him the school had gone from a top 25 percent ranking among the 700 Chicago public schools to a top 5 percent rating.
Bridge School was one of only three Chicago public schools to be named to receive both the Illinois State Board of Education’s Honor Roll of Schools
Academic Improvement Award and its Spotlight School Award, Schulman added.
Eli’s and Bridge have been neighbors for 23 years, Schulman said. Eli’s moved to 6510 W. Dakin, half a mile from Bridge, in 1984. Now, Eli’s is a mile north, on Forest Preserve Drive.
The school has also impacted Eli’s, Schulman noted, adding that Diana Gentile, a member of Bridge’s Class of 1978, heads Eli’s product development and quality operations. Her homeroom and science teacher, Edwin Gale, spent 38 of his 47-year career at Bridge, serving as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. Schulman’s executive assistant, Mary Gale, is married to his son, a Chicago Police Department lieutenant.
Schulman offered hope to those who weren’t among the Class of 2007′s award winners. He didn’t “click” either, until he reached his junior year at Niles
North High School, he said.
“Recently I found my seventh-grade report card, and the comments were pretty harsh,” he admitted. “Science — homework, lab and test scores unsatisfactory; math — very low test scores, poor quality of homework; social studies — much lower than he is capable of; reading — homework poor and incomplete.”
Several years ago, Schulman added, he was named Niles North’s outstanding alumni of the year. He went on to the University of Denver and Northwestern University’s School of Law.
The turning point for him was a junior-level class called Chicago in American Literature. He began touring the city with his father, Eli Schulman, a Chicago historian/resource. At 17, Marc Schulman became one of the Chicago Architectural Foundation’s youngest docents. He credits contact with young professionals and speaking to the public with changing his life. Suddenly, his classes became more interesting as he acquired the ability to relate his education to his outside interests, he explained.
“What if someone had judged me in eighth grade and written me off?” Schulman asked. “That is something that I don’t want to see happen to the graduates of Bridge or other schools. We need the strongest public education system possible that continues to open doors for you. Education should build upon itself as your achievements make it better for future generations of students.”