Maine East gifted students unwrap partnership with hospital
Members of the Maine East High School Junior Lyceum. Juniors and seniors in the Gifted Lyceum program are giving back to hospitalized children at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital this year. | Contributed photo
Updated: March 4, 2013 1:50AM
PARK RIDGE — Sometimes a little hard work goes a long way.
For the next two years juniors and seniors in Maine East High School’s Gifted Lyceum Program will partner with the Child Life Program at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. In doing so, the students will work to enrich the lives of children and teens who are spending time in the hospital’s pediatrics unit.
“I’m really excited because health care and working with kids is something I’m passionate about,” said Alex Plezia, a junior at Maine East and member of the Gifted Lyceum Program. The program involves students who score in the top 5 percent of their class and there are currently about 100 members.
Plezia said the members of the gifted program are planning to hold a Santa’s workshop before Christmas so they can help wrap gifts for the children. She added that there is a lot of musical talent in the class so another idea the group has is to hold music days for the patients. Days dedicated to craft projects are also proposed.
Lyceum students held their first bake sale and money raised from the sale will go towards creating activity boxes filled with crafts for the children and teens in the hospital. All of the activities and programs provided by the Gifted Lyceum are paid for through fundraisers.
“We’re really excited that they picked us,” said Michelle Stern, certified child life specialist with the Child Life Program at Lutheran General. “I think it is a great partnership.”
Stern said the Child Life Program provide emotional support for the kids and tries to make the hospital as normal and routine as possible, alleviating stress and anxiety that could come with a hospital stay.
“We do a lot of play-based therapeutic activities,” Stern added.
During their first year in the Gifted Lyceum Program, Maine East students learn about subjects such as cultural anthropology and ethical problem-solving. Sophomores learn about current affairs and humanities and junior and senior years are dedicated to sculpting leadership skills for life.
“It’s about developing civic awareness and giving back to the community,” said Judy
Tyler, director of the Gifted Lyceum Program.
During their last two years in the program students participate in 80 service-learning hours, Tyler explained. It is during this time that they have an opportunity to share their talents with the world outside of school and learn the importance of helping others.
Each year, juniors make proposals for projects and two are chosen. The students do the research on the organizations they want to assist and work to put their proposals together.
The proposals are selected by the superintendent, assistant superintendent, the principal and assistant principals, as well as the students. They use a presentation rubric that contains categories such as goals and objectives, a mission statement, and viability and planning to help decide which proposals become actual projects.
In addition to the Child Life Program, the other proposal that was selected this year is People Matter, a suicide awareness program.
“People Matter is an organization that wants to raise awareness of adolescent depression and help to prevent teen suicide by educating Maine East students and decreasing the stigma of depression,” Tyler said.