Randolph School Memories

Tracy T Sanders-Opara I can name almost all the people in this picture Erika and Thomasina in the front, Tatinna, Jennifer and Zakiyyah . . . I know the other faces but cant recall the names.


October 31, 2015. I received the following message from Deitra Martin: Hello Mr. Lopatka!!!! It's great to see you retired and doing well! You were a favorite teacher for so many of us! We speak of you often in Randolph Memories.  Halley's Comet!  Best project ever!!!! Deitra Edwards was my former name.  Derrick Edwards (Ford on Facebook) is my brother. I went on to Marry Eric Martin and we have 4 beautiful children! We laughed at the picture that you posted of him a while back. #great memories! Wonderful childhood.  Thank you for being such and outstanding educator, you made learning so much fun!


One of my fondest memories came from creating the Randolph Nature Trail with my students. I enjoyed many hours of teaching in our outdoor classroom.  If you can help me identify any of these students, please e-mail me at:

 g.lopatka@comcast.net I am also looking for your memories.  I am always amazed at what students remember about me.  I just heard from Tomasina Gross.  She is in the play Mama Mia and flying high.

We went out there during all seasons.  Students used levers to move giant logs and railroad ties.  We set up an outdoor classroom where students could sit on logs and learn about nature that they never realized was right next to the school.

We acquired 4 truck loads of wood chips from the City of Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation.  We used wheelbarrows to spread the chips throughout the trail that is over 150 meters long.


The above article appeared in the Southtown Newspaper in 1993.

Memories of A. Philip Randolph School in Chicago

Here are some memories that I have received from former students:

  • Mr. Lopatka Wow......Cant believe its you.....
    Corey Clegg Sr. 8:14pm Jan 9
    Mr. Lopatka
    Wow......Cant believe its you.. just want to say Thanks for being the best science teacher in the world.. Im 36 years old now , married and live in Tampa ,FL I always remembered you for some odd reason. this is Corey Clegg class of 1990 A. Philip Randolph.....You're the best!!!!!!!!!!

    John Blaze Says Mr. Gregory Lopatka showing off the 24 inch pythons!

  • Greg Lopatka Hey John, Don't dis me, I had to lift a lot of beer glasses to get those pythons up to 24 inches.
  • John Blaze Says I like that about you sir lol
  • Greg Lopatka BTW, thanks Thanks for sharing that great story about Mr. Benford. When Dr. F. became the principal in 2000, she didn't realize what a treasure Mr Benford was. She made him teach Kindergarten in 2002 to try to get rid of him. He left Randolph a year or 2 after that. I only lasted a year with her then retired.
  • John Blaze Says Yes. Teachers like you , Mr. Benford, and Mrs. Spathies are absent now days. I feel bad for kids that never get to experience teachers like you three.
  • John Blaze Says BTW...I still own birds lol
  • Antoine No Seven Greetings Mr. Lopatka...long time coming...glad ur still in good health beloved...I enjoyed ur class out of all the classes in Randolph...ur class was the most rewarding out of all. U are one of the reasons why I love science and mathematics today...salute to u...teacher (last of a dying breed)...as u were!!!
  • Greg Lopatka Thanks Antoine No Seven It is always nice to hear from my students. What are you doing these days?
  • Antoine No Seven Farming (up in Michigan)...and making babies...applying the science that u taught me as a youth...lol...as u were!!!
  • Greg Lopatka How many babies? What are you growing? I get to Michigan once in a while when I bring some groceries to my granddaughter who is a student at Purdue North Central. My wife and I like the 4 winds casino buffet. We get a free meal then pay for it by playing penny slots. (Bad Math)
  • Antoine No Seven LMFO...u r still funny as hell...I got three children and we are growing navy beans...this year was very prosperous...as u were!!!

After I posted the following on the Randolph Facebook page, I got a reply from Latisha Collins that cracked me up.

I had a Randolph web page in the late 1990s before most people were asking, "What is the Internet" I was able to salvage most of the things that the CPS had archived. I then put it on my http://www.lopatka.net  site.

LaTisha Chavon Collins I remember asking "What is the Internet?" Mr. Lopatka taught me how to use it right in that Science Lab. I have a secret....LOL... I thought he created the internet!!! 

I replied:

LaTisha, you are killing me with laughter. You thought I created the Internet? Al Gore was accused of claiming to do that. I did get introduced to the Internet in the 1990s at a GLOBE workshop and I received a certificate that was signed by Al Gore. 

Hello Mr. Lopatka,
I don't think you remember every student that has passed through your class but I was really happy when my sister Blanca discovered the Randolph facebook page. My sister Blanca, My brother Rey and I have such fond memories of our time at Randolph, especially the science class where I remember spending extra time in lab because I loved it so much. It also made me smile when thinking about the Randolph nature trail and how I was able to help at such a young age. I haven't visited the school since I graduated but is the Trail still there and of use to the teachers there now?
I just wanted to thank you for such wonderful memories of elementary school and tell you that you were a wonderful teacher who I will always admire greatly.

Soraida Rivera


Jevette Robinson yessss I remember the balloon launch wow! 

Several former students mentioned the balloon launch, where we tied self addressed post card to helium filled balloons.  We did that at Beethoven School in the early 1960s, when I was just out of college.  That was a wonderful activity, as we received replies from many places in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and one even made it to Fullerton Ontario Canada.  We made many friends.  

Greg Lopatka

1963Summer.jpg (1217404 bytes)

This is me in 1963 working in the Head Start Summer Program at Jenner School.

Tracy T Sanders-Opara I have so many favorite times I should have majored in some kind of science but I was too lazy. 
1. You taught us about HIV before it became bit and how the pharmaceutical world really works. 2. I remember the trips to Aragon Laboratories. 2. I remember growing tomatoes on the Moon.

I live in Dallas Fort Worth area (Texas) working as a Business Analyst at Fidelity Investments. I have two kids Daniel (19 months) and Lillian (two weeks). Working on pursuing a PhD in Sociology / Economics.

Gregory Lopatka Tracy, You must have been a top student, I only took the best kids to Argon Lab. Tomatoes on the Moon? I think you are thinking about the tomatoes that we grew from seeds that were orbiting in space and exposed to radiation for 5 years. I got on Channel 7 news for my space tomatoes. Thanks for the memories!

Willie J Porter That Reminds Me Of The Time We Went On That Camping Trip Mr. Lopatka. Not sure what year It was, But I remember the day we were coming back, your daughter had just gave Birth and you wanted to hurry up and get back Home. That was the Best Camping Trip I Had Ever Had! science was one, If not my Best Subject & class There, I loved Your Class Mr. Lopatka

(That had to be around the year 1991 when my grandson Jeff was was born. Mr. L.)

  • Ana W Inta 11/7/2011
    • I was so happy to see one of my elementary school teachers on facebook and thought I'd stop by and say hi... I was one of the Arab kids attending Randolph at the time you were teaching science. My first microscope experience was in your class and I remember the balloon assignment we did where we tied notes to them and let them fly in the air in hopes of reaching pen pals from across the globe. Well now I'm all grown up and do those activities with my kids :):)
      Just want to let you know that you are a blessed man and I appreciate you.

      Kathy Mustafa


Tiffany Meacham-Armstrong 7:22pm Nov 6
I remember the day I came to school with a burn on my hand. You cut open your aloe plant and made it feel so much better.
Blanca R. Arteaga
Wow Randolph Magnet.. It's definitely been a long time. I still remember having my 1st crush there.
Mr. Lopatka was definitely one of my favorite teachers of all time.

Mr. Lopatka,

Hi this is John Snowden. Thank you for giving me a way to contact you! I am so happy to be reconnected to one of my favorite and most influential people that I have ever met. We will talk soon.

John Snowden 


Please give my email to Mrs. Spathies, I would love to keep contact

So far as memories, OMG where do I begin?? Well, I'll start with the most stand out memory.  That would be winning the Randolph science fair. I forgot what year that was, I will have to go back and look at the TROPHY! Anyway, I remember winning it on a science project that followed several pairs of parakeets (budgies) through pairing, mating, and the raising of their young. There was no other science project in Randolph that was quite as unique as that one. The funny part about it was, that project came out of nowhere. I think it actually intrigued every judge and students alike, because I kind of knew what I was talking about when it came to their questions. After I won that contest, it was on to the district competition. Mr. Lopatka challenged me everyday I stayed afterwards to make sure I was prepared for the contest. He also challenged me to dig deeper to find something else intriguing to talk  about and to be able to scientifically test my results. So I went home and came back with data of the different color combinations of the babies that came from particular parents. I knew enough to know certain color combinations brought up certain colors in the babies. So we went with that and Mr. Lopatka made me study it. I remember staying after school several times working on the display. I was very nervous at the competition and I remember Mr. Lopatka making jokes. When it was all said and done, I didn't win, I believe I was one of the runners up because I have the plaque for it still. Mr. Lopatka told me that he was proud of me and the effort I showed and my Mom was too, she was there. I think Mr. Lopatka took me to McDonalds afterwards too.  

As a side hobby and sometimes a 2nd income, I have taken up photography. I generally deal in portraits such  as fashion and glamour. But every now and then I will venture out  to do something different. Here is a example of what I do in my spare time. If you remember my older sister Nathalie, she is the woman in the picture. 

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Shawn Parker
Shawn Parker 9:32am Oct 20
Hello Mr. Lopatka, I graduated from Randolph in 1992. Just wanted to let you know that you were an inspiration to me. Your lab helped spark my scientific interest.
Gregory Lopatka
Gregory Lopatka 7:02pm Oct 20
Thanks Shawn, that means a lot to me. What are you doing these days, I'm retired and spoiling my grand kids.
Shawn Parker
I'm currently an operations supervisor at Abbott Labs. I attained a BS in Chemical Engineering in 2002 and I'm currently at Northwestern University pursuing a business certificate in Finance for the purposes of pursing my MBA. I have two children myself. It's good to hear you're spoiling your grandchildren. I'm sure your children are envious of them. Lord knows my mother spoils my kids, giving them everything they want. However, I don't quite remember her being so much "fun" when I was growing up lol.
Hi Mr. Lopatka!
I'm doing well!  I'm so glad it's spring. I love this time of the year. 
I was just on Facebook again and several people would like to get in touch with you. You have had a tremendous impact on people pursuing careers in the sciences, myself included!
Jennifer Hymon asked me to tell you that you inspired her to become a pharmacist. She along with Jermaine Saunders and Shiana Knight are all asking for your e-mail address!  You are quite popular, respected and loved!
Take care,
Leticia Drakeford
Hello Mr. Lopatka, I am not sure if you remember me but I attended Randolph magnet school from 4th grade to 7th grade. I have a twin sister named Shiwana Knight.  I will be 27 in May so it's been a long time (lol)
I've been wondering how you were doing over the years, you stood out as one of my favorite teachers. I remember when you used to let some of the students take home guppies from your fish tank in the Science Lab and I also remember bringing you berries from the berry bush in my backyard. I also had a cousin who attended Randolph that you may remember, her name is Shamica Mcclay. 
I now have 2 kids, so does my sister. I just wanted to say hello and make sure that you are doing well. Someone by the name of Leticia Drakeford was nice enough to send your contact info to my inbox on Facebook. Thanks for being a great science teacher and staying in my memory over the years. Have a great day!!!


I sent Shiwana the following e-mail:

Dear Shiana,

Thanks for taking the time to send me some kind words. It always amazes me when students contact me and tell me what they remember.  I forgot all about those guppies, but I remember the berries, thank you.  Don't feel old at 27, I just had my 70th birthday in February. I retired in 2001, but my daughter Debbie is still at Randolph teaching 2nd grade.  I am in good health after getting 2 hip replacements.  I'm still playing ice hockey with my sons and grand kids.  We have 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.  I have many pictures on my website at: http://www.lopatka.net/

My granddaughter is playing softball on the Romeoville High School we enjoy going to all of her games.http://www.lopatka.net/Morton-softball/index.htm

 I have some links to Randolph School web pages that I posted in my final years there including Derrick Rose's basketball Stats: http://www.lopatka.net/Derrick-Rose/index.htm 

Please send me some other things you remember when they pop into your head, and feel free to share my e-mail address with any of my former students. 

Thanks, Greg Lopatka http://www.lopatka.net/

Shiana replied below to my e-mail

OMG Mr. Lopatka! You look the same exact way as you did when I was in grammar school!! lol
Thank you so much for the links, you have a beautiful family and everyone seems to be very happy. I enjoyed the older pics of you and your fam. I also enjoyed the pictures of the old cars and televisions.
I also checked out the pics of Steve Baskerville. I remember him visiting the school and I  can't remember what I asked him but you told me later "that was a great question" I also remember the nature trail!! I really enjoyed it. I remember sitting on the logs and everything. I remember you taught the students to make a bottle rocket out of a 2 liter pop bottle. I am not sure if you remember but my father made a stand for the bottle rocket and you really liked that idea. You liked it so much that you asked if you could keep it to show to other students in other classrooms :)
I have to dig up some pics of how you may remember me and my sister and email them to you one day soon. Until then, here are some pics of me, my sister and kids. My son tries to look "cool" on pictures and does not smile at times lol. I hope you have a wonderful day and I really appreciate you responding back to me. That means a lot.  Shiwana

knight-twins.jpg (881763 bytes)  

I replied:

Girl!!!! Don't you be thankin me for respondin to you!  (Sorry for the poor spelling, but I slipped back into my Randolph speak)

I want to thank you for digging some old fond memories of my days at Randolph.  Students like you with caring parents were a joy to have and many times you were neglected because the "Knuckleheads" kept us teachers busy.  I do remember your Dad's rocket launch pad and he will happy to hear that I made one for myself.  I am going to launch some rockets at 2 schools in Naperville next month,  Tell your Dad thanks.  I also do a rocket launch for my Grandson's school in Romeoville.  He brags to his teacher and then I get a call. 

Thank you for the Nature Trail Memory, I attached a picture of the article that Hilda (That wonderful clerk) laminated for me.  You never would think that was Trail was in Englewood. Do you remember what that Nature Trail sign was made of?  We were lucky to have Mr. Washington, (God rest his soul) who a wonderful Principal that let me work "Out of the Box" If he was still there, I might still be working.  When he retired, I knew it was time to move on after a year of teaching "in the Box" and I am glad I did move on, I'm having the time of my life.  I just got back from playing hockey in Nashville with my sons. I even scored a goal! Pictures are posted here  http://www.lopatka.net/2010-03-12/index.html

 I see you got into my Memories Page, I am going to start a Randolph School Memories thanks to you. Please tell your friends to dig into their brains and send me some thoughts and memories.  I love pictures too, BTW,  you and your sister look great, May I use that picture on  my Randolph School Memories page?I have a Memory page for my Grade school in the early 50s and my High school days in the late 50s.This one will let you see what I was like in grade school.  http://www.lopatka.net/St.Mark/index.htm You won't want to miss this one, it has my future wife an me at our1958 Senior prom http://www.lopatka.net/50threunion/stories.htm Now don't tell me I still look the same! LOL

Shiana replied:

LOL, well my bad Mr. Lopatka! You know i know the lingo, feel free to revert back to "Randolph speak" whenever you want! I love it! 

I love seeing older pics. It is indeed a treat that I did not expect when first contacting you. I bet you guys had a lot of fun in Nashville with your boys. You scored a goal? I bet that was exciting! 

I am glad you remember the bottle rockets, I had fun with that. It is cool to see that you are still into that. Makes me smile. Thank you for that article about the nature trail, it brings back great memories. I always looked forward to it each time we went back there. I do remember Mr. Washington and was sad to find out through facebook that he passed away. He seemed to be a great guy and it was nice of him to see your vision and let you "do you" (i hope that made sense)

I don't mind you using our pic, I would be honored to be included in what you have in store. I am also happy that I inspired you to create a  Randolph school memories page thanks to me, that would be great. There are 194 members in the Randolph school group on facebook, I will be sure to spread the word to other students in the group. I can't wait to see what you put together!!!  


Hanan posted something on your Wall and wrote:

"Wow you still look the same. I remember your class like it was yesterday, I enjoyed everything that you taught us. I graduated in 93 and I so miss everyone."
Dionne Cooks July 19 at 1:21pm
Hi Mr. Lopatka, This is Dionne Cooks, I won 3rd place in Randolph's Science Fair, thanks to you. I still have my trophy. I did the difference between Natural and Synthetic Fibers. I hope you remember me, you were a big impact on my childhood. Thanks Mr. Lopatka for everything! The school system today needs more Mr. Lopatkas

In early  April, 2011, I got a Facebook Friend request from Aaron Riddick

  • I asked Aaron for some Randolph Memories, He sent the following reply:

    Aaron Riddick Well 1st of all I'm an independent contractor with C.R.S.T. I've been a truck driver for 8 years now, I even trained my wife.

    As far as what I remember about you and your class? The fun projects. The meal worms, the solar system, the plants u let us grow.  I even remember the pen pal project, it was you who filled my balloon with helium. It was you who informed me that helium was lighter than air.  I even remember you along with some of the other teachers doing yall's own personal version of the SUPERBOWL SHUFFLE. (THAT WAS CLASSIC) `Purely Love  replied, "I remember that too!!!"

    I replied, "Thank you so much, that made me laugh. I was the "Punky QB, Jim McMahn"


This picture was posted on Facebook by Jessie McknightMr.  Alexander  with Rick Williams, Jennifer Smith and Louvina Sargent

Tiffany Edwards lol. I would really like to know what word the photographer told everyone to say on the count of 3! Everyone's mouth is open, lol.

This picture was posted on Facebook by Jessie McknightThat is me with my 4th grade class

Kwick Pittman said," That's me in the brown sweater in the front row." Kawauna Pittman

Third Grade Class Picture with Mrs. Warfield. Front Row (L to R): Bobby Roberson, Paul White. Second Row: Karen Perkins, Jennifer Vannoy, Franchesta Tyson, Denita Forrest, Shinic Davis, Aisha Webster, Latierra Pargo, Stefanie Newell. Third Row: Aaron Riddick, Shawn McKay, Hamilton Boswell, Casey Lockhart, Reginald Rose, Tommy Young, Dwain Brooks, Ishan Rashid. Last Row: Tanya Bennett, Francine, Leticia Drakeford, Latrice Mathies, Lisa Jacoby, Artrice Bunzy, Marie or Maria Smith, Tonisha Brown, Lachonda Cook.  with Aisha Ollie.

December 28, 2011 

Fourth grade class picture. Constance Banks was our teacher.
Front row (L to R): Paul White, Little Eric, Bobby Roberson, Aaron Riddick. Second Row: Constantine, Virginia Macon, Karen Perkins, Jennifer Vannoy, Franchesta Tyson, Denita Forrest, Sandora Tyler. Third Row: Jason Kuri, Kenneth Yarn, Ishan Rashid, Shawn McKay, Orlando Franklin, Tonisha Brown, Leticia Drakeford, Tanya Bennett, Tiffany Fulton, Stefanie Newell, Latierra Pargo, Aisha Webster. Last Row: Selena Cook, Juanita Flowers, Artrice Bunzy, Latrice Mathies, Lisa Jacoby, Reginald Rose, Rodney Wilson, Othello Johnson, Tommy Young.
  withLachonda Cook in Chicago.

Fifth grade class picture. Collette Meus was our teacher.
First Row (L to R): Paul White, Jason Kuri. Second Row: Constantine, Karen Perkins, Virginia Macon, Franchesta Tyson, Denita Forrest, Mary Ann Sullivan, Sandora Tyler. Third Row: Bobby Roberson, Ishan Rashid, Orlando Franklin, DeJesus, Kenneth Yarn, Rodney Wilson, Reginald Rose, Aisha Webster, Latierra Pargo. Last Row: Tiffany Fulton, Stefanie Newell, Leticia Drakeford, Keisha Douglas, Marie or Maria Smith, Latrice Mathies, Lisa Jacoby, Jennifer, Deneen Davies, Tonisha Brown, Tanya Bennett.
  with Aisha Ollie and Tanya Bennett in Chicago.

Jennifer Gigi Hillary Hi Mr. Lopatka.. I'm studying to become a pharmacist!! Thanks for introducing me to science.  Wow!  I remember when we first started the Nature trail... The best period of the school day...c/o94

Mr. Benford's Class of 1996 Thanks to Sparkle Culley

Randolph School Links:

Basketball Stats when Derrick Rose played for Randolph 

Other Randolph Pages that I posted in 1999 and 2000


NASA Grant
School Profile
Nature Trail
October News
November News
December News
January News
February News
March News
April News
May News
June News
Eclipse 2000
Star Lab
NASA Project Conference
Region 5 Science Fair 2001
Region 5 Science Fair 2000
2001 Randolph Science Fair
January 1999 Randolph Science Fair
December 1999 Randolph Science Fair49th CPS City Science Fair 1999
51st City Science Fair 2001



To E-mail Greg Lopatka, just click here! g.lopatka@comcast.net

You can e-mail your mrmpries to me.



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