AURORA, IL - The City of Aurora's African-American Heritage Advisory Board (AAHAB) recently hosted its 14th Annual Heritage Dinner at Gaslite Manor, 2485 Church Road.
The crowning event of Black History Month, this annual celebration presented scholarships to achieving high school seniors, recognized community members for their contributions to Aurora and feted AAHAB's 2018 African-American Leader of the Year, Dr. Darrell Echols.
African American leader of the Year Dr. Darrell Echols (left) with area business leader Roger Chawla during the recent African American Heritage Board dinner.
A longtime educator in Indian Prairie School District 204, Dr. Echols served as a teacher at Hill Middle School, dean at Waubonsie Valley High School and principal of Hill Middle School. In 2014, Dr. Echols took on the helm of leadership as principal of Metea Valley High School. During his tenure, Metea Valley has received several awards, including US News and World Report Best High Schools in America, Chicago Magazine's Best High Schools in DuPage County and a Grammy Award for its music program.
“Dr. Echols has helped to create an environment of excellence at Metea Valley High School,” said Mayor Richard C. Irvin. “Through his students, staff and community initiatives, that culture has permeated throughout Aurora. We are a better community because of his leadership.”
Mayor Irvin also presented the 2018 Mayor’s Lifetime Achievement Award to Ms. Avis Patterson Miller for her decades of work as a community organizer and educator in East Aurora Schools.
Avis Miller (left) with area photographer Donnell Collins
AAHAB’s 2018 Nia Awards was presented to Angie Richardson, Director of the Information Resource Center at IMSA, and Charmaine Peterson, Founder of the Dream Dance Academy.
During the ceremony, Aurora high school students received the Henry Cowherd Scholarship named in honor of longtime community leader and 2008 African-American Leader of the Year, the late Mr. Henry Cowherd.
“Seeing these kids really gives me hope for the future,” said Cowherd during last year’s heritage dinner.
He passed away last summer. A special commemoration was presented in Mr. Cowherd's honor at the event.