Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CPS Students Kick Off Cesar Chavez Month of Service in Chicago

Students from Al Raby, Roosevelt, School of Leadership, and Chicago Academy kicked off the annual Cesar E. Chavez Month of Service today by participating in service projects around the city. Each of the 70 service projects organized for the month of March reflects the issues and commitments of farm worker organizer Cesar E Chavez. Chavez struggled throughout his life to organize, build solidarity, and raise the voices and concerns of oppressed farm workers during the 1960's, 70's, 80's and 90's. Chavez was concerned about worker's rights, environmental degradation and health hazards, food issues, and justice and equality.

True to his spirt, the CPS Service-Learning Initiative has developed curriculum that reflects the life and work of Chavez as preparation for 70 service projects from March 1 - 31, 2011.

On Tuesday, March 2, students from Chicago Academy and Al Raby High School spent the day being trained on the principles and practices of peace circles. Cesar Chavez was a fierce advocate of non-violent action and resistance and even fasted to implore his co-workers to stay true to the principles of non-violence. Raby and Chicago Academy students spent part of their day strategizing about how they will take the training back to their schools to promote a greater sense of peaceful interaction among peers at their schools.

Meanwhile, students from the School of Leadership traveled to the Greater Chicago Food Depository to sort and pack food for distribution among Chicago's hungry. Chavez' working life was dedicated to those who work with food. He was a leader in campaigning for the rights of and better working conditions for farm workers.

Finally, Roosevelt students traveled downtown to receive training from the United States Hispanic Leadership Council. Subsequently, students hit the streets to register new voters for upcoming elections. In the last citywide election, only 40% of the registered voters bothered to vote. When students who are not yet eligible to vote, spend their time registering new voters, we believe it can inspire greater civic participation. This was important to Cesar Chavez. Si se puede!

Hundreds more students will be involved in service during the month of March and then come together on March 26 for a culminating event at Juarez High School in Pilsen. Thanks for the teachers for engaging their students in such meaningful and powerful ways. Viva la causa!

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