"Responsibility" is the Pillar of the Month in January at Garfield School, and students put their money where their rhetoric is recently when they took up a collection for tsunami survivors and raised $457.28. Fifth grader Colleen Mullen first asked her teacher if she could conduct a collection in her class, then a few days later expanded it to include the whole school.
They weren't alone. Field-Stevenson Principal Bob Giovanoni said they started an "Every Penny Counts" collection a few years back following 9/11 and decided to revive it following the killer tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Penny by penny, they collected $562 over four days. The PTO plans to put in funds as well, Giovanoni said.
At Betsy Ross, a similar effort raised $540.74 (first graders rocked, leading the effort with $193.65, followed closely by the third graders at $173.42).
Grant-White is in the middle of a PTO-sponsored fundraiser to battle leukemia, said school secretary Teresa Giglio, so they're waiting on the tsunami relief front. The student council, however, will take up the prospect at their next meeting, Giglio said.
All of this is heartening, and especially important since Forest Park's St. Paul Lutheran hosts a Thai-American congregation. But even without that local connection, the spontaneous compassion shown by students would deserve congratulations.
Students learn many things in school. Not all of the subjects are academic. And sometimes, the students have a thing or two to teach the rest of us.
Getting beyond politics
It's also reassuring to see Mayor Anthony Calderone appoint a local citizen to the Plan Commission who has been a vocal opponent of the last two developments approved by the village council (and supported by the Mayor).
It's one thing to say you're capable of rising above politics and another to demonstrate it. Calderone showed that he isn't petty, he also proved that he's committed to quality by naming Martin Tellelian, an engineer, whose expertise should benefit the Plan Commission.
Citizen commissions, especially in the era of accelerated development, have become critical elements in local governance. A village like Forest Park needs a strong Plan Commission as well as a strong Zoning Board of Appeals.
Tellelian should be a positive addition, and Calderone was smart to recognize that.
Maximus education in D91
Given the results of last year's ISAT tests, District 91 clearly has work to do on certain fundamentals like math and science. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for some creative electives such as Latin.
We admit it's not your average elementary school subject, but that's just the kind of curriculum creativity school districts need. Latin is at the root of so many English words, not to mention Spanish, so it makes a lot of sense from a language arts perspective. And, as its proponents say, it disciplines the mind, which is what education is all about.