*Editor's Note: Chance the Rapper announced on March 10th, 2017 that Davis Elementary will be one of the ten schools to receive $10,000.
I am Alondra Acuña, a Resource Coordinator (R.C) at Nathan S. Davis Elementary School in Brighton Park.
Two of our Davis 8th grade students had the opportunity to join BPNC and personally deliver over 300 student letters from Brighton Park neighborhood schools wrote to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the aldermen after not being able to testify at the Budget Committee meeting at City Hall. They were not able to read their letters which urged the aldermen to pressure Mayor Emanuel to stop cutting after school programs and laying off teachers. Students understand the importance of being at City Hall and representing all the students who have witnessed major budget cuts in their schools which in turn has spiked violence in their community.
Although they were not able to read their letters, they left feeling empowered and honored knowing that their voices were heard, that their letters made it to the mayor’s staff and that they made a difference in their community and school. CPS soon after announced $15M dollars would be going back to the schools. The fight to fund our schools is not over but it is a good start in the right direction.
A few words from Valeria.
My name is Valeria. I am 8th grade student at Nathan S. Davis Elementary. I wrote the letter to the Mayor because I am concern about my school and the neighborhood I live in. I am concerned because the mayor decided to take away $98,000 dollars from my school and that money could have been used for after school violence prevention programs to help out the kids in the neighborhood.
BPNC tried to deliver my letter to the Mayor, but his staff didn’t come out to take them, so I went to City Hall to read my letter to the aldermen. When I first got to City Hall, I was amazed, but when a sat and heard all those people that looked very important talk I was really unimpressed. Then we found out that the Mayor had pulled his proposal because he didn’t have enough votes. We weren’t going to get to read our letters, so we started chanting. They kicked us out of the meeting.
After we got kicked out of the meeting, we went and delivered the letters to the Mayor’s office. We were interviewed by the press. They wanted to know why we were there and what the letters were about. I felt that I was important because I got the chance to deliver over 300 letters that are not only from my school but from schools around my neighborhood. That also made me feel that I was actually making a difference in my community.
A few words from Francisco.
My name is Francisco, I’m in 8th grade and I go to Nathan Davis Elementary.
I wrote the letter to Mr. Emanuel and to the aldermen as it started to grow as a concern to me of how violence has become a very prominent thing in my community accompanied by how money and budgeting is being handled.
While attending the budget meeting, honestly, I felt a sense of excitement with a little bit of anxiety. It was kind of intimidating seeing everyone speaking in such a professional mannerism. Overall, the experience was very fun and informative. Basically, Mr. Emanuel decided to pull his proposal last minute where then we were unable to give our testimony. We were escorted out after some commotion happened, and some press decided to interview us.
The media was interested why we were there and why we wanted to make a difference. I personally felt very honored that I was selected to represent all the voices and opinion of other students. I felt delivering the letters to the mayor really made a difference.
Read Francisco and Valerie's letter to the Mayor.
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