Area students get involved in good causes (Sun-Times Media)

by Emily McFarlan Miller

CARPENTERSVILLE — Joseline Farias of Carpentersville watched the video online, like more than 104 million people around the world.

Unlike many of the people who took action this week on “KONY 2012” — the most viral video ever made, according to Visible Measures — Joseline didn’t share the video on Twitter or Facebook.

Joseline is only 11 years old — too young to have a profile on either social network. She had watched the video posted online last month by nonprofit Invisible Children, calling for viewers to make Joseph Kony famous, to raise support for the arrest of the Ugandan rebel who kidnaps children into his Lords Resistance Army, with her mom.

Her mom, she said, “got heartbroken.”

“She said if we were in that situation we would want to be heard. That’s what it’s called — Invisible Children. Nobody hears them, and this has been going on for years,” Joseline said.

The fifth-grader also was heartbroken. So she asked her teacher at Lakewood School, Terie Stephenson, if she could show the 30-minute, documentary-style video to her class during their writing time. They ended up watching the whole thing, then asking if they could show the rest of the school.

And while more than 3 million people pledged online to “cover the night” Friday with posters produced by Invisible Children in cities around the world, fifth- and sixth-grade students at Lakewood School in Carpentersvile covered their building with their own handmade posters.

One blue construction paper poster taped to a locker last week in the school hallway read, “Kony 2012. One thing we can all agree on!”

Except it’s not.

The video immediately was criticized online for oversimplifying the issue, for making Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell as famous as it did Kony; the organization, for how it spent its money. The pushback reached a crescendo when Russell was arrested and hospitalized last month after a public meltdown.

And Trish Molley, a science teacher at Larsen Middle School in Elgin, said teachers need to be “careful” when dealing with emotional, passion-fueled topics in the classroom.

“When you teach I think it’s important that you teach things factually,” Molley said. “You don’t want your emotions to guide your teaching. I want my students’ emotions to come out, but I don’t want mine to be persuasive. That’s inappropriate.”

Still, just this past week, students in both Elgin School District U46 and Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300 were building awareness and raising money for a number of causes at school.

Environmental clubs at both Larsen and Eastview Elementary School in Algonquin learned more about recycling in their areas and were recognized for their recycling efforts. Eastview also wrapped up its annual fundraising efforts for the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation with its Kids Run for the Bear Saturday and continued Autism Awareness Month activities.

Streamwood High School planned a blood drive Wednesday, and Dundee-Crown High School, an activism fair featuring about 55 different groups Friday, inspired by the WBEZ Global Activism Expo next weekend in Chicago.

“It’s great. I get a sense of pride for what we’re trying to teach them, other than academics,” Eastview Principal Jim Zursin said.

For the rest of the story, read Area students get involved in good causes (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.