Friday, March 30, 2012

Foreman Students Honor Chavez and More through Service

Foreman freshman headed out to Erie Neighborhood House on March 2nd to interview recent immigrants about their stories as part of the Cesar Chavez Month of Serivce. The interviews were practical English langugage lessons for the adults students and great learning opportunities for Foreman students. Subsequently, the students wrote and told their stories on the air at Radio Arte at on March 29th!

Foreman students also made a successful visit to World Vision on Wednesday, March 14, and went again the following day for the service-learning trip. World Vision is a community organization that accepts donations of new products from big box companies and re-distributes them among schools and community organizations.

To wrap up their Chavez Month of Service, students also participated in the Chavez Day of Reflection on Saturday March 24th. Students joined hundreds of other students in exploring Chavez through the arts and participating in the march commemorating the 46th anniversary of the 350 march from Delano to Sacramento by Chavez and the United Farm Workers.

Foreman Peer Jurists are also busy at work with Peace Week . Students sold white ribbons to raise funds for care packages for our troops in Afghanistan and Thursday students held a Day of Silence in honor of those lost to violence.

Foreman Peer educators were excited to win the Mikva Teen Council Health Grant, and they will teach HIV/AIDS awareness to freshman homerooms and make contraceptives available to all our students.

On the advocacy front, all entire sophomore class conducted a letter writing campaign to our state senators to oppose HB 14 which would legalize concealed weapons in Illinois.

During the month of February, the senior board and class raised funds for the Pennies for Patients through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We raised 500 dollars and are eligible for a pizza party for our winning homeroom.

Foreman students and teachers have been extraordinarily busy during the past months engaged in service and civic action. Congratulations!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Koya Receives Outstanding Educator Award

Saswati Koya, Science teacher and Service-Learning Coach at Chicago Academy High School, received an Outstanding Educator Award from the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, run by Dorothy Brown. During the Women's History Month Celebration at the Chase Bank Auditorium on March 28, Koya was one of nine educators, and the only current teacher, to receive this recognition.

In her comments, Koya named the opportunity to engage students in new ideas and new opportunities as a wonderful part of her job. In particular she recalled her trip to New York City's central park with 25 students as part of the Outdoor Nation Conference. Subsequently, her students traveled to Minneapolis for a regional Outdoor Nation Conference during the summer of 2011.

Ms. Koya will continue to expose her students to new experiences this summer, having been chosen as one of five teachers nationally to travel with Global Explorers to Costa Rica. She will accompany 10 Chicago Academy High School students for an amazing rain forest adventure in August.

In her address Koya praised the profession of teaching and said she could not imagine a different profession for herself. Congratulations, Saswati. We are proud of you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hundreds Gather to Honor Cesar Chavez

Hundreds of CPS middle and high school students gathered at Benito Juarez Community Academy on Saturday, March 24, to celebrate a month of service activites to honor the spirit and legacy of Cesar E. Chavez.

Throughout the month of March, 24 schools and 23 community partners engaged 1680 students in 56 service and action projects throughout the city of Chicago. Students learned about immigrant rights, food and environmental issues, the labor movement, and the civil rights movement then worked across the city with community organizations to put their knowledge to work.

Saturday was the culminating event for the students. Following a stirring opening ceremony by Danza Azteca-Mexicana, students worked in the arts - developing posters, drums, street theatre, spoken word, and murals - as preparation for a commemorative march through the streets of Pilsen. Forty-six years ago, Cesar Chavez and other labor rights activists marched 350 miles from Delano to Sacramento as a pilgrimmage to express their commitment to the cause and demonstrate to the world the injustices suffered by farm workers in the southwest. Students marched in the spirit of the Delano-Sacramento pilgrimmage so many years ago.

As they marched, students displayed their posters calling for peace, justice for workers, and invoking the spirit of Cesar E. Chavez. Thanks to all our magnificent workshop leaders and artists.

Friday, March 23, 2012

CPS Students Serve as Election Judges

As the Illinois presidential primary and various other congressional campaigns ended on Tuesday, March 20, so did the almost semester-long efforts of students from around the city. CPS students learned about the electoral process and participated in supporting the elections.

This school year hundreds of students participated in a program called Elections in Action, which is facilitated by Mikva Challenge, a non-partisan, non-profit group that works to increase student participation in our democracy. Students spent several sessions, either in class or in after school programs, working through curriculum covering the importance of voting, how elections work, and understanding the ideology of major and third parties. Students also identified their own personal ideology and what they believe about issues that face our democracy.

From there students examined why people do and do not participate in elections and what makes a good candidate. Finally, students identified a candidate, or several candidates, they wanted to support.

In order to fulfill the requirements of the program students had to have three campaigning experiences lasting at least two hours. This was a great opportunity for students who were at first too intimidated to even call a volunteer coordinator to find themselves phone banking for one or going door to door across Chicagoland to canvas for their candidate. Once completed students write a reflective piece about their experience.

This first-hand and ground-level view of democracy is one that empowers students to recognize that the electoral process is one that they can play an important part in, both as volunteers and, hopefully one day soon, as candidates!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

CPS Students Honor Chavez Throughout March

All through the month of March, CPS high school students are serving throughout the city of Chicago in ways that recall the values, commitments and spirit of Cesar E. Chavez, the great farm worker organizer. The CPS Service-Learning Initiative organized more than 60 service opportunities throughout the month. To culminate the month of service, Juarez Community Academy will play host to the Chavez Day of Reflection and Commemorative March through the streets of Pilsen. More than 350 CPS students are expected to attend and through the arts encounter the values and spirit of Chavez.

All students who will attend the culminating event will also have participated in at least one service project around the city. Students will advocate for the environment, assist immigrants as they prepare for citizenship, register and mobilize new voters, teach elementary students about Chavez, work with senior citizens, and serve in food pantries and shelters across the city.

Chavez was deeply committed to non-violence, self-sacrifice, the good of the whole community, and foundational principles of social justice. Chicago Public Schools continue to live out the spirit of Cesar E. Chavez in many ways. Viva la causa!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

CPS Students Create Memory Bridges

Students from Hancock, Brooks, and Taft High Schools have been spending their last 10-12 weeks working with senior citizens with Alzheimer's. The program, Memory Bridge, helps student learn about the physical and social implications of Alzheimer's then develop relationships with senior citizens at care facilities. Memory Bridge has been active in Chicago Public Schools has been active for the past five years, enabling hundreds of students to learn much about the human brain, Alzheimer's, and their own capacity to engage in meaningful relationships with senior citizens in their communities. Students come away from the experience with new outlooks on their own skills, interests, and relational abilities.

During the final visit to the senior center, students prepare a gift for their senior citizen buddy, present these mostly hand-made gifts, then sing together with the seniors. Music is a powerful source to connect people with their memories and with each other.

Many thanks to the teachers - Catherine Yackee, Lynn Santoyo, Donald Davis, and Katrina Vafakos for their extra time and effort in facilitating such an important and powerful program with their sudents.