Tag Archives: Chicago Public Schools

Target of ABC Project Students’ Anti-Smoking Project—Not Who You’d Expect


Haines Elementary School 6th-8th grade ABC Project Students point out the many cigarette butts that litter their school yard. Students are fed up with people smoking around their school. Not only are the students in this Chinatown neighborhood of Chicago sick of cigarette butts covering their school grounds, they are tired of walking out of the building and right into a cloud of cigarette smoke. The smokiest time of day around the building, according to the students, is right as school is dismissed every afternoon. The culprits, the students reveal, are parents and other adult relatives of Haines students picking up children from school.



Using the steps of the ABC Project, the students investigated relevant, existing rules in CPS. What students learned was that smoking is already not allowed on or around the school grounds and they realized that rather than pass a new rule, they needed to find a way to better enforce the existing one. After receiving the go-ahead from their school’s administration, the Haines ABC team attended a meeting of the school safety patrol squad. There they taught student volunteers polite ways to remind smoking adults to stay a distance from the school, or put their butts out. What happens if the smokers don’t listen to the patrol squad, you ask? That’s when they call in the school security guard, Mrs. Hunt. According to the students, you don’t want to mess with Ms. Hunt! To remind parents and students of the no smoking rule, students are using Infographics, a type of data visualization, to create signs that will be placed on school grounds and provide information about the negative effects of smoking and remind students and parents about the rule.

The Haines ABC team is also planning several activities that they hope will help prevent future smokers at their school. For the 5th-8th grade students at Haines, the ABC students are planning to hold an assembly in which smoking and its effects are the focus. For this, they’ll have a speaker from the Chinese Community Health Center talk to students. For the younger students, the ABC team will lead interactive lessons that help students learn the dangers of smoking, and they have a very engaging plan for doing this. Students will take part in grade-appropriate scavenger hunts in which the younger students search for clues—either ingredients of a cigarette (including Butane, Formaldehyde, and Tar) or the effects of smoking on the body (like lung disease, high blood pressure, bad breath) in order to win.

Using thoughtful and varied approaches to the problem at their school, the ABC students from Haines have learned that they can influence the way their school operates and parents behave, and know that they can serve as positive role models, for younger students—and adults!


Beautification from the Inside Out – How Chicago Middle-Schoolers are Changing the Bullying Culture in their School

Beautification from the Inside Out - How Chicago Middle-Schoolers are Changing the Bullying Culture in their Chicago School

How can you go wrong with a theme like “Beautification from the Inside Out”? Ms. Parodi’s eighth grade class from Richard Yates Elementary School would say that you can’t! This group of creative and enthusiastic students is participating in CRFC’s ABC Project: Action-Based Communities. Together they identified bullying as a problem in their school and together they devised a plan to help make Yates Elementary a bully-free zone.

The centerpiece of their plan is to create three murals throughout the school to help beautify everyone from the inside out. The students will need to raise some cash for paint supplies, and they’ll need to seek and get approval from the school administration. No matter the outcome, these students are learning how to be active and civically engaged members of their community. Their slogan is “Proud to be me.” Team Yates – we’re proud to know you!

The Cup of Sugar and Bad Cold Defense

by Anita Dellaria
Elementary/Middle Schools Program Manager
Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago

“‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in,’ said the Wolf. So he huffed and he puffed and he blew his house in.”

Students work closely with attorney volunteers to understand legal concepts
Students work closely with attorney volunteers to understand legal concepts

One of Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago’s civic learning  events is a jury experience conducted with 2nd and 3rd grade students in Chicago public elementary schools. The trial is State v. Wolf based on The Three Little Pigs and the outcome might surprise you.

We all know the story. A belligerent wolf pounds on the doors of the three little pigs, bellowing and demanding to be let in. When the pig with the straw house and then the pig with the stick house refuse entry, he huffs and he puffs and he blows their houses down. Only when he is faced with the sturdiness of the brick house and the ingenuity of the third little pig is the wolf defeated, ending up in a boiling pot of water.

Students weigh evidence
Students weigh the evidence

Time after time the unexpected happens. Despite his place in the popular imagination as a predator and all-around bad guy, the wolf is found not guilty. Out of 187 votes cast this year so far, the wolf has been found not guilty by 152 individual school children and guilty by only 35.

How can this be? Perhaps the answer lies in the wolf’s (a.k.a. B.B. Wolf) version of the story. According to his testimony, he had a bad cold and a great desire to bake a cake for his grandmother. When he knocked on Fran Pig’s door to borrow some sugar, he sneezed and blew down her straw house. He ran to Stan Pig’s house to tell him about his sister’s house, but he sneezed again and blew down his stick house. He then ran to Dan Pig’s house to tell him about his brother and sister and to borrow some sugar when he sneezed again, but Dan Pig’s brick home withstood his ferocious “achoo!”

The jury foreperson delivers the verdict
The jury foreperson delivers the verdict

Some might say his story is a bit incredible, but the defense produces a receipt for cold medicine, and it is this receipt that jury members consistently cite when asked to explain their not guilty verdicts. They also cite what they perceive as a bias against B.B. Wolf. Relying on Fran Pig’s admission during cross-examination that not only did she not know B.B. Wolf but that she didn’t want to know him, the students detect good old-fashioned prejudice. “After all, he is a wolf,” she stated.

As any attorney volunteer who has participated in this event can tellyou, the children are concerned with “getting it right,” and acknowledge the difficult choice they face. When asked what he learned, one student responded, “I learned that whether you want a defendant to be guilty or not you need evidence to prove it.” When asked what it felt like to be on a jury, one student responded, “Being on a jury is hard because you have to hear both stories and…it is a hard choice.”

The receipt for cold medicine is very convincing
The receipt for cold medicine is very convincing

We can think of all sorts of reasons why the wolf won, but we can’t completely discount that the wolf is found not guilty because 2nd and 3rd graders do understand the importance of fairness, rational decision-making, and the awesome responsibility that comes with having the power to curtail another person’s liberty.

How should a citizen feel when she sits on a jury? Let’s hope she feels like the third grader who said, ““I feel brave and alive.”

For more information about State v. Wolf, contact Jessica Chethik at chethik@crfc.org.

Preview the program here!