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Monday, April 14, 2014

CPS on spring break

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Worlee over at The Sixth Ward notes that while there is no school this coming week the Chicago Park District will be open in addition to other options. While there will be activities for young people during their break from school, there are many who won't have any supervised activities. Everyone should be vigilant this week.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

LSC elections & thoughts on the state of education

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Monday and Tuesday are days for LSC Elections. Monday was LSC election for elementary schools and Tuesday are such days for the high schools.
It was my intention to post the above flyer over the weekend unfortunately it seems I kept running into a snag with regards to posting it online whether through Blogger or the FB page. Anyway if you're living at least in the Roseland Heights or West Chesterfield area you may have found this in your screendoors or mailboxes. Sharon Banks-Pincham represents the community on the LSCs for both Gillespie Elementary and Harlan Community Academy.

Hopefully you were able to be informed of the LSC elections on Monday and were able to vote. Hopefully you're able to vote on Tuesday for LSC members at your local high schools.

Speaking of education, on Monday Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax ranted about the state of education in Illinois. Many of us are concerned about the state of education in Chicago especially for the K-12 set. So he starts out with a piece comparing charter schools with the neighborhood public schools and states:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

DNA Info: Wi-Fi Hot Spots, Laptops to Be Loaned by Libraries Under Pilot Program

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What do you guys think of this idea? Is this workable in the longterm?
The Chicago Public Library is planning to lend out wireless hot spots and laptops in one of the first programs of its kind in the country.

"Wi-Fi lending is a pilot program that we are interested in exploring in order to make the Internet available to people without this technology at home," said Brian Bannon, commissioner of the library system.

The system's "Hotspot at Home" initiative has been in planning stages for a while, but received a boost when the library decided to apply for funding through the Knight News Challenge grant competition earlier this month.

The details of the pilot program are still being hashed out, but will likely start out at 12 branches that are in communities where home broadband usage rates are the lowest.

As with checking out books, DVDs or fishing poles, anyone with a library card in good standing would be able to take home the devices.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Found my old 8th Grade graduation tickets

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I'm so ecstatic right now! I found my two spare tickets from my 8th Grade graduation which was held at the Bennett School auditorium. Alas I have no other photos from this event, but I was glad to have finally completed my time at Bennett-Shedd. It was time for me to get out of there and it was time for the next great unknown - Harlan High School.

Hopefully I have some other memories around the house of that day. Mainly the program for the exercises, but at this point I'd have to search far & wide for it. Hopefully it will be found because I barely remember most of it.

At the same time I still have my tassel, kente scarf, even a medal that we wore during our exercises. That medal is a treasured possession of mine that fell apart in recent years, but had gotten repaired. The ribbon was red, black, and green like the "Black liberation flag". It's probably the only medal I will ever get!

And yes, this means that my 8th Grade graduation took place 20 years ago! That means I have just shown my age, sheesh!

Anyway, in between keynote speakers and other formalities we had to perform songs. One written specifically for our graduation and based on a popular song. And of course the Bennett School hymm. I just need to figure out why our teachers would torture us like that. LOL!

I think our keynote speaker was Bill Campbell who a major figure at WLS-TV channel 7 - our local ABC affiliate. Beyond some of those minor details I no longer remember our commencement. Although surely someone has some memories somewhere, yes?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Had the chance to see the Glee Club, however...

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Glee Club and Morehouse Alumni sing college hymn on stage
I posted about the Morehouse College Glee Club coming to Chicago recently, unfortunately due to  being unable to get off work that night I wasn't able to make the show. However, I did get a chance to see them a little over two years ago at the Harris Theater. I wrote this post originally on March 7, 2012.

It hits me that 2011 and 2012 marks a milestone in my own personal history with Morehouse College. In 2001, I was accepted to Morehouse for the first time and Spring 2002 marked my first semester there. Back then I was talking a good game about supporting Morehouse, however, I have yet to put my money where my mouth is.

Anyway it's been 10 years since my acceptance and my first semester there. And of course after dropping out for a year and half due to money and it took me some time to finally graduate from Morehouse. I can't believe that it's been that long already. Where has the time gone?

Last night, I saw current Men of Morehouse perform at the Harris Theater. The Morehouse Glee Club came to Chicago and performed and impressed a lot of people who never got to see the Glee Club perform. This is the first concert I've been to involving the Glee Club. They often performed at college functions such as crown forums or even baccalaureate and commencement. Sometimes they perform at events such as that for the King Memorial.

Believe it or not, I hadn't planned on going. My mother just decided this was something she wanted to do and she had tickets through her job so we went last night. It was a great performance and say what you will about them the Glee Club has talent.

Here's an example of what they perform. They performed this very song last night in fact, "Betelehemu" [VIDEO]
This has encouraged my mother to support schools like Morehouse College. She may give a donation in the future and I would also be interested as well although I've yet to find a "Morehouse Man job". Also I have other goals as a function of being a Morehouse Man that I think would be valuable but I'll save that for another post.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The hope dealers

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Last week students of Morehouse College went on spring break. Also last week a group of 14 Morehouse students led by Roseland resident & Corliss High School alum Corey Hardiman came to Chicago forgoing the usual spring break rituals - i.e. going to the beach - to engage in service on the South Side of Chicago. I'm going to share some of the media that I have found of these young men doing good in Chicago in early March

Mary Mitchell discusses these young men in a recent column:
Corey Hardiman and his crew could be kicking up sand this week in Florida.

Instead, Hardiman and 14 other students from the historically black Morehouse College are in Chicago shoveling snow — and delivering hope — to young people who have been impacted by the violence on the Far South Side.

Hardiman grew up in Roseland where he attended Lavizzo Elementary School and Corliss High School.

Now about to graduate from Morehouse, where he attended on a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship, Hardiman returned to his alma mater this week as an alternative to the spring fling most college students are enjoying.

“Dope has plagued our community for so many years, it is time to give out hope,” Hardiman told me. “Dope is for sale, but hope is free.”
...
Hardiman, 22, raised about $4,500 to pay for the bus tickets
Hardiman said he was inspired to do this by a literacy project he did in Philadelphia as stated in the Mitchell's column.

Also this article from the Tribune also discusses this service project. Below it's illustrated how well students who go to Roseland area high schools perform on the ACT tests:
In Roseland, the picture for black males is even more dire than the national portrait. According to Chicago Public Schools data, there arefour high schools that serve students in Roseland. At Corliss, Harlan, Fenger and Julian High Schools, only a little more than half of the student bodies went on to graduate in 2013, statistics show. The average ACT score at those schools was about 14, which is considered poor. The average score in the state last year was 20.
Wow, it's been years since I took the ACT and well my score was slightly above the average score for thos local high schools and much lower than the average score for this state. Although let me just admit that it's been years and who knows how they score the test these days. Assuming the ACT changes like the SAT.

Now here's some other media. Audio and some videos!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thinking about the past after a recent visit to a courthouse...

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Looking outside of the courthouse
Recently, I was summoned to jury duty at the Cook County criminal courthouse when it hits me that many years before had been my first visit actual visit to this area. My 8th grade class at Bennett School took a field trip to the adjacent Cook County Jail where we were met by the inmates who's apparent goal was to scare us straight.

They made a unified statement telling us to think about it. Some of us smirked to which some of these inmates let us know that there was nothing funny about what they said. Some of us were passionate as whatever these inmates were saying struck a nerve. Some were in tears and others had an outburst.

Many of them tried to relate to us tales of what happened to put them in jail and some of my peers were finding themselves in the same situation anyway. In fact, I'm sure this experience probably saved a few of us that day. Unfortunately in spite of this trip, there is at least one classmate who was headed for trouble back then who is no longer walking among us today.

In fact that experience was the first time I realize that some of my peers were in gangs. It was a revelation that was only the beginning as I headed to one of the worst high schools in the city at the time. If I had no clue they were in a gang when I finally got to my assigned high school that fact would be thrown in my face.

Hopefully the youth of today don't have a trip such as this, one of the most unusual during my time in public school. Although perhaps a trip such as this should be reserved for the ones who are known to be trouble. Although if only we had a true crystal ball for the ones who's future are either dead & buried or constant trouble with the law.

If anything I'd rather hope we sent our youth to the courts for a tour of a courthouse. If only my grammar school had arranged for that back in the day instead of a trip to the jail. Perhaps someone in my class - especially myself - could've been inspired to be a lawyer or judge. Or the future 8th graders could be inspired to have a career in the law.

All the same, I'm satisfied only with having to make a rare trip to a Cook County Courthouse for jury duty. Thankfully no brushes with the law that would land me at either Cook County Jail or in a courtroom at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse. And I hope to keep it that way!