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Martin Luther’s dream is carried on at La Salle-Peru Township High School. L-P’s second-hour history students Austin Prybylinski and Brittany Salazar tape 95 Theses “Ways to Improve LPHS” on principal Deb Nelson’s door.
NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
Making the school better
Adrianna Zeman, freshman: Clean the pool “You can see the oil on top of the pool like a layer.”
Austin Prybylinski, freshman: Have drug testing for all students, not only those in extracurricular activities “I don’t think it’s fair that only people who are trying to do something more should have to take the drug test.”
Brittany Salazar, freshman: Does not want swimming in winter “I have to exit the building while my hair is not completely dry; it’s still wet.”
Jack Shields, junior: Serve more food for C lunch period “On a day like pasta day, there’s not much left — they have to scrape it up, and sometimes it’s cold.”
Swimming in an oily pool, going hungry through lunch and having no time to pursue extracurricular activities are some of the tribulations that plague La Salle-Peru Township High School students.
Two world history classes made these and other grievances — along with their proposed solutions — public on Thursday by posting them on the office door of principal Deb Nelson in an imitation of 16th-century German church reformer Martin Luther’s public posting of his 95 theses challenging church doctrine.
“It’s good to start putting into the community right away,” said freshman Chris Sheehan-Jago, who just moved to the area from DeKalb. “I want to improve the school — anything I can do to help improve the school is good.”
Teacher Rob Clydesdale emphasized that the project wasn’t meant to make trouble, but pointed out that as Luther was originally part of the Catholic church and wanted to reform it, “you can still love L-P and think, ‘things can be better.’”
Each of the two classes came up with a list of “95 ways to improve LPHS.” The ideas range from “no finals” to “teachers should be more aware of bullying” to “make the lockers red and green.”
Sheehan-Jago said he would like an eighth period to pursue more extracurricular activities.
“Next year, I’m taking all required classes, and I won’t have room for electives,” he said.
Junior Jack Shields agreed, saying he would shorten all the periods by five minutes to make room for an eighth.
“I feel the class periods run a little long,” Shields said, adding that he would like the option to use an eighth period for a study hall as well as elective classes.
Freshman Alicia Ellerbrock thinks students should have access to tablets with their textbooks loaded onto them.
“Sometimes, on weekends, I take my instrument home, along with two of my heaviest textbooks,” said Ellerbrock, who plays the clarinet. “Having a two-pound tablet with everything on it would be a lot nicer.”
The school’s swimming requirement is a trial for freshman Brittany Salazar, who described pool conditions — the water oily from students’ makeup and hair products — with disgust.
“If they had the pool cleaned out a little more, it would be easier,” she said. “You can see the oils on it; it’s gross having to swim in it.”
Freshman Austin Prybylinski argued that the C lunch period needed more food.
“After A and B lunch, most of the food is gone, so you’re limited to fewer choices at C lunch,” he said. “They don’t make a lot for C lunch.”
Freshman Adrianna Zeman enjoyed the opportunity to voice her views.
“The teachers and principal don’t always see it from our perspective and know what’s hard for us,” she said.
Salazar also liked that the students could publicize their opinions.
“Our ideas are being shared throughout the school,” she said. “I think it’s great to share ideas.”
Nelson said she had not yet seen the students’ lists, but that she planned to meet with the two classes to discuss their ideas and “take them into consideration.”
“We do that all the time with our students,” Nelson said, mentioning that this is the first year that — in response to student requests — water bottles are now available in the cafeteria line for purchase with students’ debited meal money, as opposed to being only available from vending machines.
“This school belongs to our students — we want the students to feel like this school is their own,” Nelson said.
She said some suggestions wouldn’t be possible to implement, but that “I have no doubt there will be some items on that list that we can look at and talk about. I hope this is a lesson that students understand — there are healthy and productive ways to share their concerns.”
Clydesdale expects the conversation to indeed be healthy and productive.
“She (Nelson) does take the suggestions to heart, and she’ll work with the students to change what needs to be changed,” he said.
For Sheehan-Jago, the opportunity to improve the community is the main point.
“I like the idea of Martin Luther seeing things that were wrong in the community and putting them out there in the public,” he said.
Rachel Stella can be reached at (815) 220-6933 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014
Article comment by:
I didn't know conditions at LP were so deplorable. Maybe the students could go to Sochi for a few weeks so they could swim and drink all the yellow water they want and they wouldn't even have to bring toilet paper because they wouldn't be allowed to flush it.
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