Students Learning History Make History


Students Learning History Make History
By: Wes Wallace

Dongola, IL - It's not too often students get excited about their textbooks.

However, a group of kids from Dongola, Illinois, not only like history, they're making it as they learn about the subject.

"I wanted to take the kids through a process I thought was important for them to have in their education," says Cindy Vines, a former Dongola teacher, who retired last year, "If I was going to leave them with any memories, I wanted it to be about how government really works."

More than a year ago, Vines and several of her students started "Project Citizen", a program to grow interest in getting people involved with government and politics. The group chose a project honoring Illinois native Jane Addams. The students did their research and learned there's not a holiday recognizing the efforts or achievements of a woman. That prompted them to construct a plan to approach state legislators to name a holiday for Addams, the first female Nobel Prize winner.

On Thursday, the kids and their former teach got quite a surprise.

"I thought we'd get done eventually, but I never thought it would get to this level this fast," says ninth grader Jennifer Medlin.

Inside a textbook delivered to the school a page outlining the Dongola students effort and process to try and establish Jane Addams Day.

"It's just great for other kids to look at it," explains Meddlin, "So many times, kids just wait for adults to do something, but this way it shows we can make a difference, no matter the age."

Even in her final year teaching, Cindy Vines took on a project that took up a lot of her time, as well as hours of after school work for the students.

"It's definitely the highlight of my career," says Vines with a smile on her face and pure joy in her eyes, "I think every state needs some sort of recognition for women, that must might be our next project."

While Jane Addams day probably won't be a state holiday, the Dongola students do have a house bill.

If passed into law, it would make it a commemorative day, where all Illinois students would spend time learning about the native civil rights pioneer.