IVC Everyday Leadership Class assists Chillicothe Historical Society

Justin Miller TimesNewspapers
IVC seniors Kyle Walden and Gary Skillestad help move heavy cases to make room for changes inside the Chillicothe Historical Society Fourth Street Museum.

Students at Illinois Valley Central High School are leading by example in the Everyday Leadership Class.

This was evident as class members swarmed the Chillicothe Historical Society Oct. 15 to complete tasks an increasingly older volunteer group either could not do or would have taken them longer.

“The goal of the Everyday Leadership class is to establish and promote leadership qualities such as tolerance, risk taking, turning conflict into cooperation, motivating a team, leading, not just following and making choices for others to benefit,” teacher Matt Chapman said. “We hope students take an approach of serving others and taking quality risks when no one else will while striving to make a difference and impact for others.”

The class, which meets every other day for 86 minutes like other classes at IVC, is comprised mostly of juniors and seniors but has tried some sophomores in the past.

“We ask students to wow us and wow themselves,” Chapman said. “They do. They come away different students willing to go the extra mile in leadership even when it doesn’t look cool.

“They also come out of their shell. Some that seem meek in the first few weeks of class take risks and stand up for things that mean something, like anti-bullying.”

The class works on various projects throughout the year that help area residents.

“We have had the class do class projects such as working at the Midwest Food Bank, blood drives, benefits and such,” Chapman said. “The students also have individual projects that can be done on their own or with partners.”

The class has also worked with the local grade schools for Peace Day, Sept. 21.

“We received notification from (superintendent) Dr. (Nick) Polyak that (the historical society) needed help and we responded,” Chapman said. “We assigned two team leaders and they got the ball rolling, making all the contacts and decisions for the group. This project was totally student driven.”

Over the hour the students worked there they moved maple tree logs and limbs to a trailer, cleaned leaves and debris from a storm drain, dug up trees and bushes, pulled weeds, trimmed shrubs, scraped old flaking paint from the front porch and steps, raked leaves in the parking lot, backyard and from the ivy and moved heavy items.

Trevor Hawksworth and Sierra Hohulin were the student leaders who helped organize the project at the historical society.

“Denise Passage from City Hall emailed Dr. Polyak and asked if any organization or club would like to help the Historical Society out,” Hawksworth said. “Dr. Polyak sent it to Mr. Chapman and he brought it to the call to vote on, and we all voted yes that we would love to help them out.

“Mr. Chapman asked if anyone would like to take the lead on this and be in charge, and I said I would love to, along with Sierra Hohulin.”

Things like helping the historical society are what Hawksworth said he likes about the class.

“What I like about the class is when we do our service projects, we’re not just doing it to get a good grade,” Hawksworth said. “We are doing it because we love to make a positive impact on the community, and we love to see all the smiles we put on people’s faces.”

Over the four years of the class, the students have worked on a variety of projects.

“There have been many examples over the past couple of years of different types of projects that were really amazing,” teacher Mark Kosinski said. “For example, last spring’s class sponsored the Josh Pilger benefit, which raised almost $8,000 for a scholarship fund in Josh’s name. It was obvious how proud those students were of themselves for pulling that off.

“We have had groups rake leaves for the elderly, refurbish trails at PAWS in Peoria, have a benefit concert to help a fellow student raise money for a wheelchair.”

For the future, the class has no plans of slowing down on service projects.

“We are really looking forward to the individual service projects of this year’s group,” Kosinski said. “The IVC Athletic Booster Run on Nov. 10 is one of those activities. There are many others including a winter celebration at the high school, a food drive, Thanksgiving dinner with the elderly and a benefit dance.”

While the class may be hard work for all involved, Chapman said it is worth the effort.

“It is very rewarding when we see students’ perception change from ‘it’s all about them’ to ‘it’s all about serving others,’” Chapman said. “It’s also awesome to see the change and confidence of those that appeared to be silent and then have the confidence to have their voice heard and take positive action.”