Monday, April 30, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Northeastern Illinois University made its pottery room available for Mather students and teachers to create the bowls. Students spent 5-6 hours at the university creating bowls for a community event to take place on May 04, 2012. At the Empty Bowls event, Mather staff, community members, students, and families, will gather to share a simple meal and learn more about food insecurity issues in the Chicago and around the country. All proceeds from the dinner will be donated to the Lakeview Food Pantry, an organization working to provide emergency food aid to individuals and families.
Jennifer Brown, an art teacher at Mather who organized the project, received some start-up funding through Donors Choose, an online opportunity for teachers to raise funds for special projects. Ms. Brown was assisted by other Mather faculty at the event.
We already look forward to the Empty Bowls dinner at Mather on May 04, 2012.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
I had an awesome week! I was one of the two advocates from Chicago that won a scholarship to Washington D.C. to attend the Save the Children 10th Annual Advocacy Day. The point of Advocacy Day is for us, the young children, to go speak to our Congressmen and Senators; and let our voices be heard about what they can do to help the malnourished children around the world, as well as here in the United States. It was a success!! There were many children from around the US participating in the two day event.
The first day were workshops where everyone got to know each other and work together to make posters showing awareness of what is going around the world and what we, the people, can do to help. Unfortunately my flight was canceled on the night before the event started. I was stuck in New York City for the night, and I needed to be in Washington the next day at eight in the morning. So yes, I was stressed at first because I didn’t know anyone who was going to attend the event and I was going to arrive real late to the workshops. Although my flight was canceled, I got to explore New York! Especially Times Square, it was AWESOME! The next day I got on a flight at 10:30 a.m. to Washington. I had butterflies in my stomach on my way to D.C. I was excited yet nervous about meeting new people.
I finally arrived to D.C. at 1:00 p.m I had missed the workshops and all that was left for the day was a luncheon with all the participants for Advocacy Day and the Staff of Save the Children. There were also special guests in the luncheon, such as Jonathan Capehart, who writes about politics for the PostPartisan blog, and Alex Wolff, a musician from Nickelodeon.
In the luncheon Jonathan discussed the upcoming elections and how teenagers and younger children feel like their voices aren’t being heard. Personally, in my high school many seniors are about to be 18 years old, meaning they’re able to vote, they think that the Congressmen and Senators won’t pay attention to what they have to say about ways the Congressmen can do more for their community. But in reality, we the children are the ones that play an important role for change. The Congressmen care more about our opinion, rather than the adults. You see, we’re the future, we are the ones who will create more in life and they know that. That is why the next day the participants were divided into groups depending on where their hometown was. Each of the participants was going to go speak to their Congressmen and Senators from their location back home in the Capitol Building.
The goal was to speak to them about why they should not cut the budget on the School Lunch Program here in the United States. Not many children are going to be able to receive free lunch in school with these cuts. Just last year 3.5 million children experienced food insecurity, so now if they cut the budget the number will increase.
Another budget cut the government wanted to do was lower the percentage of how much money would go overseas to help the malnourished children in developing countries. I got to speak to Senator Mark Kirk, Senator Richard Durbin, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, and Jesse White Jr. My partner, Helena, and I succeeded with our speech. All of the Congressmen and Senators agreed with us; they were in favor of not cutting the budgets.
This was truly a mark in my life, a trip I will NEVER forget! Especially because I got to go inside the tunnels under the Capitol building to get to the four different offices of each Senator and Congressmen and I had the chance to speak directly to them. One of the great moments from the trip was also making new friends from different states. I got to meet teens from Philadelphia, Tennessee, Texas, and from many more. Thanks to my avid teacher, Mr. Hardin for getting me, and my classmates, involved in the United Nations Millennium Goals and to Mrs. Walker for introducing me to the Save the Children Scholarship. Both of my teachers have truly blessed me with this wonderful moment! I hope that one day we will all step up and have our voices be heard, together we can all make a change!
Curie Metropolitan High School
Monday, April 16, 2012
Friday, April 6, 2012
In preparation for their meeting with the alderman, students participated in an activity called Speaking Truth to Powerful People. The activity asks students to name a issue that is of concern to them, devise a solution or strategy, then identify the person in power who can help them get what they want to build the common good.
Students identified student leadership programs in every school, and curricular relevance strategies as issues of concern to them. In mock meetings with decision-makers, students were tested (not the standardized variety, but authentically) to see how they presented their ideas to a powerful decision-maker. The students learned quickly from one another and did a great job.
Following the mock meetings, students met with Alderman Cappelman for an hour sharing their experiences with the alderman and insights about the community. In a lively and free-wheeling back and forth discussion with the alderman, our students raised questions of economic development, curricular relevance, youth and arts programming, and adequate support for the disenfranchised, particularly those experiencing homelessness.
During an afternoon reflection experience led by the Center for Civic Reflection, students contemplated the question: Does one need to know anything about the person(s) you are helping/serving? and were asked to complete the statement: A helpful person needs to....The thoughtful and engaged discussion that ensued demonstrated the power of experiential learning. Students were able to dig deep into their experiences to engage in thoughtful conversations with one another.
The Alternative Spring Break culminated with a celebratory barbecue where students share their final presentations, musical talents, and new friendships with each other. The final question on the lips of many students? When will this happen again?
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
On 3/3 a small group of students met me at Juan Diego Community Center (Centro Comunitario Juan Diego) on 88th and Commercial to help pack food for their food pantry. When we arrived we were deeply saddened to see that number of families waiting for food and learn about their near bare cupboards. We were only able to give about 8 cans of food to each person. When our group reconvened for our reflection, we decided we needed to collect food for them and stock their pantry. In four days our little cooperative designed and put up posters around the school, spoke to their Division Teachers and collected HUNDREDS of cans of food, boxes of pasta, rice, and other non-perishables. We followed up by returning the next Saturday, 3/10, to deliver our goodies to them and help sort and hand out bags again! It was great, we were able to help, in just two Saturday mornings, over 100 families.
In the meantime my Spanish I classes were learning about the work of Cesar Chavez and what he meant to the Hispanic community. On March 8, we went to El Instituto del Progreso Latino, and our students paired up with an adult student going through the Citizenship process. We interviewed them, quizzed them, worked with them and we learned A LOT. When we reflected on this the students went wild; they loved it and they wanted to stay longer. They have been asking to return ever since. We wrote stories about the adults and on March 21 and took a follow up trip to Radio Arte 90.5 in Pilsen. We recorded our stories and 6 students read their stories in English and Spanish LIVE on air. We even had several that our adults that we interviewed listen to the program as we recorded.
On March 14, a group of seniors interested in going into teaching once the get into (and out of) college, went to a Kimochis training. Kimochis teaches high school students how to teach appropriate social-emotional skills to little kids. They went to training at 320 N. Elizabeth. New Service-Learning Coach Lucia Estrada and I took 4 girls to receive the training and Ms.Estrada is now leading these girls, recruiting more students to participate and we are still scheduling with our local elementary to implement the amazing opportunity! Keep on the lookout for more about Bowen and this project.
On March 20 a group of dedicated seniors led and sponsored a blood drive at the school. Not only did they students coordinate the event, work and recruit, they also registered students and helped them after blood was drawn, distributing snacks, water, and ice packs! It was a great job, and we helped save over 109 lives.
On March 26, we had a wonderful math teacher, Mr.Shawn Espinosa, take a group of students to the Marilynn Rabb Foundation where they worked with hunger issues and sorted and packed food and handed them out to needy families at the Laribee Police Station.
Lastly, and the most exciting part of this month, was the Celebration of Cesar Chavez at the Reflection Day at Benito Juarez High School. Ms. Estrada and I took students who participated in at least one of the above listed events. We watched an amazing cultural show then split up and participated in workshops with other schools. We were even fortunate enough to be asked to lead a workshop which other students attended that talked about Propaganda and Protest art and how Cesar Chaves influenced that movement through his peaceful protests! We culminated the great day with a march through Pilsen, carrying signs and yelling chants to commemorate the 350 mile march that Chavez did in his protests.
Six community organizations based in Chicago's diverse Uptown community benefited from the talents and energy of CPS students participating in the first annual Alternative Spring Break program of Chicago Public Schools.
CPS students served at Chinese Mutual Aid Assocation, Sunlight African Youth Center, Grassroots Curriculum Network, Kuumba Lynx, Christopher House, and Cornerstone Community Outreach.
Students planned and implemented activities for children participating in spring break programs at Christopher House, Sulight African Youth Center, and Chinese Mutual Aid Association. The students were in awe of the high spirited energy of the children and left the day having learned much about what it takes to organize a high quality youth program. Students also helped the Kuumba Lynx program build a studio for community use, supported the food distribution programs at Cornerstone Community Outreach, and organized historical materials to create a new Uptown study curriculum that is student-friendly and speaks the truth.
During their final day of the alternative spring break, students will meet with 46th ward Alderman James Cappelman and share their insights with him. To cap off their experience, students will gather for a barbecue and share their thoughts about how the week has impacted them. We're looking forward to an exciting culmination.