National College Decision Day on May 1, 2020, brought a round of celebrations for the Class of 2020 and a virtual visit from alumni speaker Mark Dinos ’95, who spoke about how his MPA experience laid the foundation for success in college and beyond.

After graduating from Morgan Park Academy, Dinos earned an undergraduate degree in communication arts from Benedictine University in 1999 and a Juris Doctorate from John Marshall Law School in 2002.

He is a founding attorney of the Klauke Law Group in Chicago and has worked as an attorney focusing primarily in workers’ compensation matters. He has represented both petitioners and respondents in complex matters for more than 17 years. He has litigated before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and various circuit courts and appellate courts throughout Illinois.

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At his church, Dinos served as a parish council president from 2016-2019. For more than 20 years he has coordinated the annual Metropolis of Chicago Junior Olympics event, in which approximately 2,000 youth athletes participate. Last year he was elected to be a Metropolis Council member for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.

He and his wife, Olga, live in Lockport.

A transcript of his remarks:

To the MPA Class of 2020:

Here you are, just about five weeks away from a milestone that you have worked nearly your entire life to achieve: your high school graduation. As of today, you’ve reached another milestone by selecting the college you will attend as you navigate the next stages of your education. Congratulations to each of you. You should be proud of what you have achieved.

When I was originally asked to speak on this College Decision Day, I was given three simple directives: 1) share an experience or two that I had when I attended MPA; 2) offer a few words of advice; and 3) keep it short.

While I can’t promise to keep it short, I can offer you a story and some thoughts.

I could share stories about senior pranks, the antics that we displayed on a lot of our class trips, or the time our baseball team got into a fight with one of our rivals and the colorful language used by our coach to address his players. If I did, though, I don’t think I’ll be invited back again.

Instead, I will tell you about how MPA prepared me for seven more years of education after I left these hallowed grounds.

My freshman year at MPA, I took chemistry with Mr. [Mark] Linnerud. It was a steep learning curve from what I had experienced in middle school science class and required a lot of work. In between trying to cash in “mole bucks” for silver plated Coke bottles, learning about covalent bonds, and tons of lab work, I managed to do well in the class.

Fast forward more than five years later to the summer between sophomore and junior year of college. I took a chemistry class, and even thought I hadn’t picked up a chemistry book in that entire time, I managed to remember everything from Mr. Linnerud’s class. There were no topics in this college-level class that I hadn’t learned and retained from my freshman year of high school. I actually walked into the final exam needing to get only 7 out of 150 multiple-choice questions right to get an “A” in the course.

A couple years later when I entered law school, critical thinking, issue recognition, thought development, and advocacy were the most important concepts that permeated all areas of law. Those concepts were cornerstones at MPA and helped me adapt immediately.

MPA has prepared students for nearly a century and a half for life after high school. This will become evident to you when you start college and already know how to manage your coursework. You will be amazed to see how far ahead you will be compared some of your new classmates.

As for offering advice, I’m a little bit at a loss because the world today is drastically different that the one we knew just 60 days ago. Our priorities, responsibilities, perspective and the way we view the world have changed in 60 days.

Our definition of the words “essential” and “important” have forever been altered. The cashier at the convenience store making little more than minimum wage is more essential than the professional athlete earning $30 million annually. Cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer are more important than the next billion-dollar blockbuster movie from Hollywood. The thoughts offered by infectious disease experts are more essential than anything even the biggest A-list celebrity can tweet.

MPA has a very proud tradition and its alumni include doctors, CEOs, CFOs, COOs, entrepreneurs, scientists, educators, artists, attorneys, restaurateurs, philanthropists, business leaders, and many, many more. Those alumni made their mark in a world that existed before the term “social distancing” became part of the lexicon.

MPA works to create “Independent Thinkers and Global Leaders”. The class of 2020 is now the first to be challenged to be those independent thinkers and global leaders in a world where quarantines exist and pandemics are real events, not hypothetical textbook discussions.

Your goals, hopes, and dreams don’t need to change. Your focus doesn’t need to be altered. Maybe, though, you can step away from any tunnel vision you may have and look at things from a broader perspective. The lessons of the past 60 days have placed a different lens on the landscape that is before you. Some parts of the view of the world have become blurry while other parts are more crystal clear than at any point in history.

You are going to be part of a long history of MPA graduates who have left their mark on their communities. We look forward to seeing what your legacies will be.

Congratulations to you all for your choices on College Decision Day. Good luck as you approach the finish line of your high school careers and good luck on all that you do in the future.