Celebrating High Society






With a tip of a top hat to Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby’s 1956 musical, the English Speaking Union’s June Ascot Ball celebrated the spirit of High Society.


High Society (1956).

Pointing out that the star who would became Princess of Monaco always looked perfect in pearls, private jeweler Peter Martino donated a pair of south sea pearl and multicolor gem earrings as a raffle prize.


Jackie Thompson and Courtney Pitt.

ESU President Courtney Pitt noted:

The Lester Lanin orchestra added to the old society glamour that was a perfect part of the High Society theme. The atmosphere at the Four Seasons was amazing. We brought together new friends and old to celebrate education scholarship and understanding and raise vital funds for Chicago area teachers and students who participate in our nationally recognized Shakespeare competition, courses abroad, and international exchange studies putting English in action.”

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition provides teachers across the country with a performance-based program for the study of English Language Arts and Shakespeare. It is a school-based program serving Grades 9-12.


High school winner, Ann Urbanski, with ESU board members, family, and Deputy CG, Martin Whalley, celebrate at the Newberry Library on February 22, 2017.

Since its inception in 1983, the competition has engaged more than 300,000 young people, who have not only developed communication skills as a result but an appreciation of the power of language and literature.


Vonita Reescer surrounded by Ascot guests.

Vonita Reescer served as the Ascot chair, with Scott Spasojevich as Junior Committee Chair. Laura Ekstrom, Kimberly Gleeson, and Edmund Lester are officers.


Larry Ekstrom, Peggy Scoville, and Laura Ekstrom.


Kimberly Gleeson, Cheri Lawrence, and Reute Butler.

Honorary ESU Governors are Council Generals to Chicago: Roger Price, Australia; Roy Norton, Canada; Murka Tomar, India; Stephen Bridges, Great Britain; and Andre King, Barbados.

The Ascot Ball always celebrates summer in style, from the toast to the Queen to a bevvy of frolickers on a crowed dance floor. Crosby, Sinatra, and Kelly would certainly have approved.


Lakesha and Jim Rose.


Karen Zupko and John McCahon.


Courtney Kennedy and Sean Eshaghy.


Robert and Leslie Zentner.


Mary Clare and Joe Starshak.


Joan Craig and Peter M. Ruggiero.


Jennifer Arquilla Bocik and Dan Bocik.



Photo credit: John Reilly Photography