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Students Get on "Soapbox" to Urge Changes in Town

A group of sixth graders got on their 'soapboxes' and made impassioned pleas for change in the city of Hickory Hills.

Fortunately, they had the right person's ear to bend as they delivered those impassioned speeches: Hickory Hills' Mayor Mike Howley. The speeches were part of a change in the sixth-grade social studies curriculum on democracy. Conrady Team Leader Adie McHugh said the idea came from the C-3 Social Studies Standards that stresses inquiry.

"The idea was to show students what democracy was all about," McHugh said. "We wanted them to know they can have a voice in their community."

All 11 students who spoke praised the city for being "a great community with lots to offer." However, they said there were some changes they would like to see made. They made it clear that raises taxes to pay for the improvements was no object at all. How their parents think of that idea may be a whole other story.

Yosef MuYosef Muhammad hammad said while "Hickory Hills is an amazing community," he would like to see additional surveillance cameras in town to help prevent crimes. He cited a study from a town in California that added surveillance cameras and saw a significant drop in crimes which they attributed to the additional cameras.

Yosef suggested holding fundraisers to raise money for the cameras.

Sammi Kavaliauskaite asked Mayor Howley to call for a tax increase to install additional red-light cameras at more intersections. "We have one red-light camera in Hickory Hills," she said. "I think we need more."

Natalia Tyrala urged the mayor to call on the community to conserve water. "Water is a natural resource that is needed to survive," she said. "People take water for granted."

She suggested people shut off the water while they are brushing their teeth and to take quicker showers.

Omar Shatat suggested the city needs more public art. "It seems that we only have art displays inside public buildings," he said. "We have such diversity in this town that we need to have different artists represent that diversity and show it off around the city."

Omar asked Howley to "raise taxes for eight to 12 months to pay the artists."

Howley listened attentively to the speeches and thanked the kids for their input. He said he would share the students' concerns with the city council at an upcoming meeting. 

Sammi Kavaliauskaite