2011 Distinguished Alumni

Joseph G. Peterson, Wheeling Class of '83

distinguishedpeterson2011Joseph G. Peterson is a writer, a publisher and a reader. His writing career began at Wheeling High School when he started writing stories and poems and publishing them in student magazines. Peterson studied philosophy, literature and French and received his B.A. from the University of Chicago. He received his Masters Degree in English from Roosevelt University. Since 1989 he has been working in academic publishing at the University of Chicago Press. 

In the early 1990s, with the artist Mike Brehm, Peterson began publishing a small literary magazine called StoryHead that emerged with the 'zine revolution.' StoryHead's mission was to combine the work of writers and artists in a riffing sort of way reminiscent of jazz improvisation. StoryHead published several important stories, some dealing with the war in Bosnia and the fall of the bridge over the Drina River. StoryHead also published the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Peterson has published numerous short stories and poems in small periodicals and in 2009, his critically acclaimed novel, Beautiful Piece, was published by SwitchGrass Books, an imprint of Northern Illinois University Press. In the fall of 2011 his epic poem, Inside the Whale, will be published by Wicker Park Press, and in the spring of 2011 his novel, Wanted: Elevator Man will be published by SwitchGrass Books.

Peterson lives in Hyde Park with his wife and two daughters.


John C. Haas, Wheeling Class of '68

distinguishedhaasJohn C. Haas graduated from Wheeling High School in 1968, with the first graduating class to attend WHS all four years. He was valedictorian of his class, served as the freshman and sophomore class president and served four years on the student council. Haas also was a member of the football, basketball and track teams. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from University of Illinois, Champaign. 

Haas is an attorney who has been engaged in the private practice of law in Mount Prospect since 1975. His practice is concentrated in the areas of real estate, estate planning, probate, wills, trusts and corporate work. He is a member of the Illinois, Chicago and Northwest Suburban Bar Associations and is a founding director and officer of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers' Association.

Haas is a frequent lecturer in his areas of specialization to local groups and at continuing legal education seminars.  He has also been active with many community organizations, having served for years as director of the Mount Prospect/Prospect Heights United Way and the River Trails District 26 Education Foundation. He has always supported the cause of education, having assisted with establishing of the District 214 Community Education Foundation and representing the District with the acquisition and sale of properties for the District's Practical Architectural Construction program. John also serves as trustee and treasurer of the WHS Bomber's Scholarship Committee, which raises funds and awards college scholarships to Wheeling High School seniors who would not typically qualify for scholarships under programs with conventional criteria.

John was born and raised in Prospect Heights where he presently resides. He is married and has three children and three grandchildren.