Friday, December 9, 2011

Foreman Students Serve at Historic Northwestern Settlement House

The Northwestern Settlement House, in existence since 1891, hosted Foreman High school students on Friday, December 9, 2011. Students participated in activities with the "Golden Agers", a group of senior citizens from the community who come to the settlement house regularly for activities and services.

In the tradition of Jane Addams and the settlement house movement, the Northwestern Settlement House seeks to be a community center that provides opportunities and services for neighbors of all ages.

Foreman students led a rousing game of bingo then socialized with the seniors, many of whom access the settlement house as one of their few social opportunities of the week. The Golden Agers were thrilled to see the Foreman students and have them join in the activities.

Following the activities, Foreman students were able to tour the facility and learn about the important, and uniquely Chicago, history of the settlement house. For the past 120 years neighbors have been accessing the unique blend of opportunities. For our Foreman students it was a great opportunity to literally step into history and learn more about how individuals and organizations are civically engaged in the city.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Harris Fellows Host 7th Annual Leadership Conference

More than 350 CPS high school students came to DePaul University on Saturday, December 3, for the 7th Annual Harris Fellows Leadership Conference. The conference theme - Education: Shape Your Future; Shape Our Future - encouraged students to take control of their own education and use it to collaborate with others to build a better world.

Students found that the messages about college education are too frequently about winning the ability to make more money. Harris Fellows student leaders wanted to explore in more detail how post secondary education could lead to a different kind of fulfillment that creates a more just world and a deeper sense of personal fulfillment.

Throughout the conference, students participated in student-facilitated workshops that enabled them to identify and build on their own skills, passions, and fires, and then work together to create a different kind of a future based on the issues they cared most about.

Students were excited to attend the conference and were enthused about the workshops, opportunities to meet other student leaders, and the chance to have some fun during the lunch session which featured great music and dancing. One student reported she learned that "social networks are important and you have to feel comfortable in your own skin." Another said: "I built my confidence." Another said: "This [conference} should keep going on cause it's a good thing to inspire people."

The Harris Fellows Student Leadership Conference is unique in that it is conceived, planned, and implemented by student leaders. The adults take the back seat for the day. It was amazing to see the students plan out and facilitate their workshops and witness how favorably other students responded.

At the conference, four student leadership groups were recognized as members of the Harris Fellows Network: Phoenix Brotherhood, Foreman Peer Jury, Phoenix Sisterhood, and John Hope HS Brotherhood. Each of these organizations enables student leaders to make a real difference in the lives of fellow students at their schools.

Vaughn Students Serve in Tradition of Jane Addams

20 wonderful Vaughn High School students served in the tradition of Jane Addams today by preparing lunch and socializing with seniors citizens at The Kenmore Apartments as part of the CPS Jane Addams Week of Service.

During the week of December 5, students from across Chicago Public Schools learn about the important work of Jane Addams, a turn-of-the century reformer and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, then serve at various settlement house and community locations throughout the city. Addams built settlement houses as a strategy to develop community among and support the aspirations of newly arriving immigrants. But Addams also advocated for justice in those communities.

CPS teachers attended a professional development workshop at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum in November in order to prepare for the week of service which culminates on Saturday, December 10, with Addams' birthday celebration. Teachers help students learn about the progressive movement at the turn of the century and the work of Jane Addams and other reformers then accompany their students as they serve in communities across Chicago - just as Jane Addams herself did. On Jane Addams' birthday students from Curie, Hancock, Foreman, and Dyett will be working with immigrants, serving and getting to know seniors, and learning community organizing skills.

Today, Vaughn students displayed great teamwork, positive energy, and a wonderful spirit of community as they prepared lunch for 30 senior citizens then settled into play games with a very diverse group of Uptown senior citizens.