Winner of several contest awards from the Wedding Photojournalist Association including photographer of the year in 2012, Steve Matteo still remembers his early days as a news photographer for a small suburban weekly, rushing back to the newsroom to watch the film slowly develop and a sliver of history take shape. Though he went on to tackle more exciting assignments and career changes—working at the Daily Herald, compiling images for UIC's yearlong City 2000 photo project, and photographing Princess Diana's visit to Chicago in 1996—one thing hasn't changed: the thrill of knowing that his camera has memorialized a story forever.
Today, Steve is equally at home shooting for Fortune 500 companies and clients such as Northwestern University as he is creating individual portraits. When he photographs a wedding, he uses the same ingenuity and photojournalistic eye that he honed while working as a sports photographer for HBO Sports and as a news photographer for the Associated Press. His wedding photography, meanwhile, has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, garnered a 2012 Bride's Choice award on WeddingWire.com, and won the 2012 WPJA Photographer of the Year.
At Classico Cooking School, home chefs of all ages, experience levels, and diets learn to travel the culinary world from the comfort of their kitchens. Lessons from a catalogue of more than 160 subjects and culinary styles are tailored for children, teens, and adults, and might take the form of a group class, a private party, or a corporate team-building exercise. The calendar boasts cuisines from regions ranging from Argentina to Japan, and dishes for vegetarians, meat-eaters, dessert lovers, and pie throwers, alike.
The seasoned staffers at Make-A-Messterpiece nurture creativity and critical-thinking skills by guiding children up to aged 12 through messy hands-on activities. Aspiring chemists can mix their own concoctions at the Experimentation Station or explore gravity at the Bubbleology area, and future chefs can dabble in gastronomic delights at Creative Kitchen. Whereas Lil' Sprouts activities teach pint-sized crafters do-it-yourself projects, the custom-designed Drum Roll studio gives children the chance to splatter paint with each drumbeat, just like Carnegie Hall during renovation season. For little ones who would rather create aesthetic masterpieces, Splat-Tacular Tables furnish the tools they'll need to draw, paint, sculpt, or decorate their own creations.
Make-A-Messterpiece also goes beyond everyday activities to host school field trips and children's birthday parties with artistic activities, food, and goodie bags. For frequent messmakers, the center offers family memberships replete with perks such as everyday access to the studio, discounts on classes, VIP passes for special events, and consultations with Jackson Pollock's ghost.
A PADI five-star dive center, D. D. Dive outfits novice swimmers with all the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary to swim beneath the waves. Their courses are made up of classroom sessions, pool work, and open-water excursions to prepare each student according to PADI guidelines. The instructors also offer classes in rescue diving and diving-instructor as well as dive-master training, all of which are useful skills when working to open a dive school for dolphins. Once certified, new divers can go with the school on a globetrotting trip to a diving mecca such as Bonne Terre Mine, Kona, or the Galapagos Islands.
The Academy's sage chefs coach aspiring cooks ages 4 to 14 through recipes that rotate weekly, covering entrees, sides, desserts, and a host of preparation and presentation techniques. Divided into KinderCooks classes for ages 4–6 (age 3 permitted with adult supervision) and Junior Chefs sessions for ages 7–14, each 90-minute lesson teaches kitchen safety and etiquette before burners are fired up, reminding kids to respect hot or sharp objects, each other, and the last will and testament of broccoli stalks. Students summon two dishes per session from various ingredients, with time set aside to taste their handiwork at the end. Offerings are seasonally themed around available ingredients and upcoming holidays, with September featuring a recipe for Roly Poly stromboli and October pairing jack-o-lantern quesadillas with sinister salsa and Halloween candy pie, which can be offered as a mask to one's least favorite friend.
When Director Tony Youhanna and George Solomos founded Little Legends Soccer Academy in 2009, they found themselves filling a niche. At the time, the North Shore offered no quality soccer coaching for youngsters interested in the game. Their first session was a success, drawing thirty eager players, but it didn't prepare them for the popularity that was to come. Since that day, the academy has ballooned: more than 300 children ages 24 months to 8 years old are currently enrolled in its various programs.
Each clinic helps kids build soccer fundamentals such as foot skills, passing, and receiving in an environment that encourages fun and teamwork. Very young players—24 to 36 months—start off in the Born to Kick program, which couples soccer skills with mind-nurturing topics such as shapes, colors, and vocabulary. As children get older and their skills progress, they move into clinics aimed at more advanced techniques, eventually putting them to work in games. The academy's Space program—standing for speed, agility, core, and endurance—does away with the soccer ball altogether, focusing instead on exercises to improve footwork, speed, and balance.