Spartan Historians earn Illinois School of the Year

I talk a LOT about how awesome my kids are. About how hard they work for a school project and about how many hoops they jump through in the name of excellence and doing it right. Their collective hard work was recognized on a state level when Illinois History Day recognized us as the NHD School of the Year. Not all students can earn the honors they deserve, but this award is meaningful as it captures the excellence of ALL of our students, including students who have helped develop this program and build the excitement which now surrounds it.

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In addition to this school honor, 8 students (EIGHT!) earned a Superior rating at State. This is the highest number Lakeview has had. They are:

  • Brenna Humprhis & Ryan Rosignal (Exhibit)
  • Bella Chlada, Anna Bastuga, & Katie Bastuga (Exhibit)
  • Cassie Repole (Performance)
  • Hajira Choudry, Emily Reyes & Adriana Loconti (Website)
  • Michael Joseph (Website)
  • Ysabel Pakowski & Nathan Nowak (Website)
  • Allison Ford (Research Paper)

Lakeview was also invited to visit our State Senator from the 41st District, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno. She and her Legislative Assistant Mary Lou Frank secured a tour of the Capitol as well. An already special day was enhanced by the generosity of our Senator.

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Last but CERTAINLY not least are Lakeview’s very own 2017 NATIONAL HISTORY DAY QUALIFIERS: Brenna Humprhis & Ryan Rosignal! Ryan and Brenna will take their show on the road to College Park, Maryland June 11-15 to take part in an INTERNATIONAL celebration of student historians. Only 2 group exhibits from the state get to advance, so this is an unbelievable honor and accomplishment. I couldn’t be prouder of these kids!



Bringing 20% Projects to Lakeview 7th Graders

7th graders have begun a new project in ELA, Science, and Social Studies. This interdisciplinary project serves as a capstone for 7th grade, combining the skills students have practiced and learned and putting them to use collaboratively. The 20% Project is modeled after Google’s philosophy of giving employees 20% of their time to pursue projects they are passionate about. This freedom has lead to the development of ideas such as the autonomous car. While we don’t expect students to be inventing anything, it’s empowering for students to have the opportunity to use the design process along with their research skills, resourcefulness, and empathy to pursue a passion of theirs. Schools around the country have begun to adopt this project as a way to develop the 21st-century skills our students need.
Kevin Brookhouser is credited as a pioneer on this topic. Here are his students sharing what they’ve done with his support and guidance. Our students don’t have the time to do the same (yet), but here’s a sample of what’s possible when students are empowered to use their skills:
While we expected this project to be embraced by students (as the “WOW Day” was in 2011), I think we’re all surprised how quickly students took ownership of this project and took off with the planning. Here are some examples of student projects:
  • Create a YouTube channel to make videos on how to fix computer and software problems
  • Create a book for incoming 6th graders or new students to help with their transition to Lakeview
  • Create care packages for active duty military overseas to let them know people care about them. Use extra toiletries from hotels
  • Have a book drive to give underprivileged kids an opportunity to have books to read
  • Would like to learn Serbian so he can communicate with family and build better bonds with them. Would like to dub a tv in Serbian as his product.
Students will be given all of ELA/Science/SS, every Friday, to develop these plans. Mrs. Screenshot 2017-05-03 at 9.03.26 AMGemmell has designed a document students are using to organize their ideas. A critical part of this project is the “Design Thinking” component, in which students reflect to understand how their project can be improved. This includes realizing the plan won’t work, being rejected, and/or failing. That “failing forward” mentality a crucial 21st-century skill, which is why we’re supporting students through this process.
The final product could look like one of three things:
  • A successfully completed product, project or creation.
  • A successfully planned or constructed project which will be completed at a later date.
  • A project or idea which failed, with reflection on what could be improved in the next iteration.
This project will conclude on June 1st and 2nd – the last two days of school – with students sharing their projects and reflecting on the process. It’s exciting to see the students so electric about school and using the skills they’ve learned all year.

Thirteen Reasons Why: Helping Vulnerable Children Navigate Difficult Topics

downloadI’m stepping out of my comfort zone and writing about a TV show many of our students are watching: Thirteen Reasons Why (Netflix). Jay Asher’s book has been popular for several years, but the Netflix series is controversial for its depiction of real, awful events. Knowing that many of our students are watching and that some schools have advised parents not to allow their children to watch, my wife and I took the weekend to watch the series and educate ourselves. I can’t help but share my reaction as a parent and teacher of students at a very vulnerable age.

I have not read the book. The series, though, isimages a painful emotional tour of the events
which lead a girl to commit suicide. Its visual nature makes the content of the book even more real. Hannah Baker is an intelligent and creative girl, and the show’s slow march towards her death is heartbreaking. It’s hard to watch the show and not think of the students who are watching this show and processing what it all means.

I don’t suggest middle schoolers watch this show due to the scenes depicting sexual harassment of Hannah and other girls, two scenes which show graphic rape, and the very real and visceral scene in which Hannah kills herself. All this overshadows other concerning calls for help – Tyler is building an arsenal of automatic weapons and a deep resentment of his peers, Alex contemplates suicide, and Justin has an abusive mother and is growing violent himself. Heavy stuff. However, many Lakeview students have watched this show, and a conversation with them is important to help them process what they’ve seen. Many of our kids identify with the characters in the show, but they don’t yet have the intellectual or neurological ability to process it properly.

If your children have watched this, it begs a conversation with them. Difficult, yes, but I can’t imagine a 13-year-old watching this and processing its content alone. Or with google, social media, or any other path to misinformation. If you don’t know how to approach topics like suicide and rape, I’ll leave some sources below. Professional advice or guidance from me would not be appropriate, but I recommend you reach out to our leaders at school (such as Mrs. Horeni) if you need help talking to your children. Watch the series, educate yourself, and prepare if necessary, but don’t let your children tony-13-reasons-whynavigate this alone. If anything positive is to be gleaned from this series, it’s the power of friendships and positive thinking. Be cool to people… you have no idea what’s going on between the ears.


Sources from experts about the topics in Thirteen Reasons Why: