Maine East and Maine West high schools were both recently highlighted by the Illinois Democracy Schools Initiative for initiatives at each individual school.
The recognition for Maine East was for developing an internet forum for discussion of student issues. The school is hoping to use it as a platform for students to engage each other in discussion of issues and concern across all three high schools in the district. In addition, Maine East was recognized for sponsoring Anna Galland, Executive Director of Moveon.org, as a speaker during their lunch periods. She spoke with students about her civic action journey where she leads one of the largest organizations dedicated to promoting citizen action on issues. She also discussed how she sees the role of student involvement in current issues.
Maine West was recognized for recently discussing controversial issues through Gywnne Ryan’s sociology classes, where they engaged in a lesson on “Making Privilege Visible” to address head on issues of racism, class and gender in the school, community and country. In addition, they were recognized for Maine Township Government Day that was held on Friday, March 8th. Township Government Day is organized through the Township of Maine in which students from Maine East, South and West tour agencies that provide services to the Township and then work with representatives from the agencies to participate in a budgeting simulation in Township Hall.
In addition, Maine West recently participated in the following as part of the Illinois Democracy School efforts.
- Thirteen Maine West students participated in the Capitol Forum on America’s Future simulation on April 10-11. The program brings Illinois high school students together to learn about policy issues on human rights and empowers them to make their own decisions and take action. In advance of the forum simulation held at Illinois State University, students analyzed human rights case studies and deliberated possible solutions to global issues in their classes. The participation was led by Social Science teacher Diane Littlefield Lanham. Additionally, a group of sophomore A.P. European History students dedicated extra time to changing the world and getting people to recognize the importance of human rights. This year they teamed up with Journeys: The Road Home, an organization serving the homeless population in the northwest suburbs. The students organized a food drive and collected hundreds of non-perishable food items to be distributed locally.
- Maine West’s club for human rights, Voice for the Nameless, attended Amnesty International’s Annual General Meeting held at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago on March 1-2. Students from Maine West led a presentation on Human Trafficking. Additionally, Voice for the Nameless regularly participates in service work through Inspiration Corporation, Feed My Starving Children and Refugee One. The group’s sponsor is Randy Harper.
The Illinois Democracy Schools Initiative supports a growing network of high schools that are committed to civic learning experiences and empowering students to nurture and sustain the democracy. Approximately 75 high schools in Illinois are Illinois Democracy Schools including Maine East, Maine West and Maine South.