Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer of Service and Leadership Kicks Off in 21 Schools

50 teachers and college students gathered on June 4, 2011, for a professional development seminar to prepare them to launch the 4th Summer of Service and Leadership - a four-week leadership and service-learning experience for rising ninth graders.

Summer of Service and Leadership (SOSL) engages students in 21 high schools around the city in team building and leadership development experiences that prepare them to serve their communities. Students are currently examining the issues of aging, poverty and environment and then serving at locations throughout the city by working side-by-side with senior citizens, assisting and food pantries and restoring natural habitats.

In addition to the great service work students do through the program, SOSL is also a great transition program for 8th graders as they embark upon their high school careers. With the help of teachers, college mentors, and community partners, students are able to build new relationships with teachers, fellow students, and leaders in the community. They also have opportunities to explore college with the support of the college mentors.

The following high schools are participating in SOSL this summer: Amundsen, Chicago Academy, Clemente, Gage Park, Harlan, Kelvyn Park, Kennedy, King College Prep, Kinzie, Richards, Roosevelt, School of Social Justice, Solario, Steinmetz, Taft, Upflit, Von Steuben, Washington, and Whitney Young.

SOSL will culminate on Friday, July 22, 2011, at the UIC Forum. 500 students will come together to share their fantastic summer experiences. Look for a rainbow sea of colors as students report on out on their great work this summer.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Curie Students Explore the Amazon as Global Citizens

Ten Curie High School students and their teachers flew from Chicago to Iquitos, Peru to begin their Amazonian rain forest adventure with Global Explorers. Teachers Josh Parker and Erin Faulkner led the students through a week-long exploration of Amazonian nature and culture from June 22 - July 1.

Students encountered the legendary pink river dolphins, the only fresh water dolphins the world, fished successfully for piranha, encountered boa constrictors, tarantulas and macaws, toucans, and parakeets, heard the magical calls of the oropendula birds and spotted a tailless whip scorpion on the rain forest floor at night time.

But students also got to meet villagers from Yagua and Santa Isabel where they learned about the medicinal properties of trees and plants from a shaman, participated in tribal ceremonies and were able to purchase native jewelrly made from plants and fish bones.

Undoubtedly for most students, the highlight of the trip was a day of service in the tiny river community of Santa Isabel. Students delivered bi-lingual children's books to start a library in the school, built book shelves, painted the school, and create a playground area for the community's youngsters. Students were in awe of how the villagers work together without the benefit of electricity and machines to build, create, and cook what they need to live.

In the closing days of the trip, students were able to ascend 200 feet into the forest canopy to enjoy the Amazon from on high. Students navigated the canopy walk among 18 different trees. It was an amazing way to complete the exploration of the Amazon. It was a life altering experience for the students. All returned more committed to continue to engage in meaningful service-learning work in their own communities. And, they all vowed to return one day to the Amazon.

Thanks are due to Pearson Foundation, Global Explorers, and AFAR Magazine for this absolutely incredible opportunity for CPS students!