To date, I have pretty much not said anything about Urbana. To be honest, this has nothing to do with my perception of this fine School District – the issue is that I simply focus my radar on a few things. I mean, there is a ton of stuff going on in Unit 4 I never touch, either.
Today, my radar skimmed over the geographical boundaries and landed upon the Urbana High School. Or more specifcally, the UHS Social Justice Committee. I would link the site here, but the only thing on the page at the moment is a video (a fairly good one at that). So I’ll include the link later on with a bunch of others.
Ms. Ellen Dahlke, a UHS English teacher, has been the more public of the co-chairs of this committee. I have been rather impressed by their involvement so far. I mean, let’s start with the video. It is titled “Think Before you Speak” and covers how certain words set off a chain of emotions and reactions in various people groups. When used in vain, these carelessly tossed hand grenades might set people off. So, think about it first. Ms. Dahlke also convinced two students to join her on a Steve Shoemaker WILL radio show, and they covered many aspects of the Committee (“not a Club”). It is awesome, in my opinion, how they are getting 15-30 folks to show up at Committee Meetings; a group comprised of students, staff (from Urbana and even the University), professionals, parents and community members at large. The lack of intimidation and level of acceptance of these “safe environments” bring my mind back to Dr. Aber’s oft repeated recommendation that Unit 4 create similar “safe environments”.
The Social Justice Committee has been involved in several community service projects such as the Disability Expo held at Lincoln Square, A Woman’s Fund, and Center for Women in Transition, and the Champaign County Nursing Home. In November, the Social Justice Committee was closely involved in planning the East Central Illinois Safe Schools Alliance forum held at Parkland College.
I love this stuff. And now I want to be a part of it. 🙂
- NG article advertising YMCA Friday Forum series: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2011-09-05/friday-forum-series-address-public-education.html
- Ms. Dahlke’s U of I whitepaper: https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/edahlke2/UIWP/index.html
- WILL Steve Shoemaker podcast with Ms. Dahlke & students: http://will.illinois.edu/keepinthefaith/show/ktf110515/
- Urbana High School “Think Before you Speak” video and Social Justice page: http://www.usd116.org/uhs/activities/SocialJustice.htm
- UHS review of the Social Justice Committee: http://www.usd116.org/index.php/2010/01/uhs-social-justice-committee-looks-to-impact-school-and-community/