Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kelly Students Support Progressive Immigration Legislation

As part of Chicago Youth Service Day on Saturday, April 30, 2011, more than 100 Kelly High School students traveled to St. Nicholas Church on Chicago's southwest side to join immigrants, community leaders, and elected officials to raise their voice for progressive immigration legislation.

Kelly students have long been interested in the DREAM Act and have fought for passage of the act which would enable thousands of children of immigrants to access loans and scholarships to attend colleges and universities. Currently, children of undocumented immigrants are not able to attend college because of funding being denied.

A second piece of proposed legislation, the Smart Enforcement Act, would enable local governments to choose whether they want to cooperate with a federal enforcement program that targets hardened criminals but also has led to the deportation of undocument immigrants arrested for misdemeanor crimes.

Immigrant advocacy groups say they hope Illinois can begin to reverse the trend of pro-enforcement state measures that have been sweeping across the country.

By participating in the rally, Kelly students learned about first amendment rights to assemble and petition the government. They also learned to raise their voice for causes the believe in.

According to Service-Learning Coordinator Raul Magdaleno, Kelly students brought energy and spirit to the gathering on Saturday. The rally was sponsored in part by the Illinois Caucus for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Thousand Youth Join Chicago Youth Service Day

A thousand CPS middle school and high school students participated in the second annual Chicago Youth Service Day on Saturday, April 30, 2011. Students worked with senior citizens, restored natural areas in parks, wetlands, and forest preserves, served in homeless shelters, built community gardens, and advocated for immigration reform and passage of the DREAM Act throughout the city.

At the Linne Woods natural site north of Chicago, Lincoln Park High School students removed invasive growth and built natural erosion control mechanisms using downed invased treee species. Students also enjoyed the burn pile where they cast the remaining invasive plants which will make room for natural plant species.

At the Ruth Shriman Senior Apartments complex in Uptown, students from Von Steuben High School served breakfast, socialized, and played games with residents seniors.

Three groups of Amundsen High School students traveled to Pilsen to help with the annual Dia de los Ninos celebration and parade, to Foster Avenue Beach to continue work on their adopt-a-beach site, and to the Just Harvest organization to assist with the food pantry, while 100 Kelly High School students participated in a rally to advocate for immigration reform at St. Nicholas Church.

Curie High School students teamed up with students from Gary Elementary to develop a mural about the enrivonment while Dyett and Fenger students partnered to assist at the Roseland Boys and Girls Club. Middle School students at Jackson Language Academy created a memorial garden to honor a teacher who recently passed away.

Countless partner organizations including BuildOn, Chicago Cares, Friends of the Parks, Alliance of Great Lakes, Public Allies and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County provided opportunities for students to be involved in service throughout the day.

All participating students traveled in the afternoon to McCormick Place for a spectacular Civic Action Rally highlighted by community partner tables, 15 activity stations including hip hop dancing, art, spoken word, and theatre, and a rally featuring the outstanding and amazing dance performance by FootWorkingz and spoken word performance by the Half Pint Poetics of Kuumba Lynx.

As emcee Steve Mayberry noted: Now don't let today be the end of your journey. Let it be the beginning. Let generations to come look back on this day and say something bold and proud and beautiful was let loose on the City of Chicago on that day, April 30, 2011, and the city was never the same again.