Wilmette, Community

Fourth-graders tackle the big issues and take their ideas to their legislators

Parents visit school for first time since pandemic began

Recent work by Avoca West Elementary School students caught the attention of state and federal legislators, and the students got to show it off on Wednesday, May 25.

The school hosted the Global Change Exhibition Wednesday, May 25, when fourth-graders presented their action plans to combat significant issues — such as hunger, climate change and animal endangerment — facing society today.

In addition, 17 of the students developed proposals to solve for climate-based problems, like flooding and invasive species, and sent them to the Illinois General Assembly.

Ill. Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) and Ill. Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview) visited the school Wednesday to hear more about the projects, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) authored a letter in support of the students’ efforts.

State Sen. Laura Fine talks with Olivia Ayodele about food insecurity during the event.

For the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, school parents were also invited to visit the school and enjoy the students’ work.

The fourth-graders could research a topic in one of four categories: life on land, life below water, good health and wellbeing, or climate action. The projects were based on the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals, according to Janis Michael, an Avoca West teacher.

The presentations were on display throughout four rooms at the school on Wednesday, and the students answered questions and explained their projects to guests.

Safiya Pathan chose to explore the future of vaquitas, an endangered porpoise in the dolphin family. She said she did not know about vaquitas, but once she found out she wanted to help save the species, only 10 of which may be left in existence.

Olivia Ayodele presented about food insecurity and said that in Nigeria, where her family is from, access to nutrition is a widespread concern. In fact, food shortages are a problem for millions of Nigerians, according to the World Food Programme. Olivia even interviewed staff members of the Wilmette Park District about local food pantries and social programs that combat food insecurity.

Jonah Grant learned about children across the country who have limited access to youth athletics. He said all children should be able to play sports if they want to and thinks more fundraisers and charities should support the issue.

“This is a wonderful event. These kids are going to save the world with these ideas,” Fine said.

The Record is a nonprofit, nonpartisan community newsroom that relies on reader support to fuel its independent local journalism.

Subscribe to The Record to fund responsible news coverage for your community.

Already a subscriber? You can make a tax-deductible donation at any time.

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

Related Stories