'Lincoln'... and the United Students of Evanston

Patch columnist Christine Wolf ponders the gravity of the moment as a diverse group of 7th graders from Nichols Middle School attend a screening of the movie 'Lincoln.'

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

At this time of year, many of us stop to ask what we cherish most. It's not uncommon to hear the following top the list: family, friends and neighbors, good health, a paying job, or a roof over our heads.

In addition to the abovementioned, this year I'm especially thankful for having seen Nichols Middle School 7th graders attending a special screening of the movie Lincoln on Friday, November 16th.

As I peeked in the theater before the house lights went down, I stood in awe, looking at the multitude of faces, races and cultures represented in those seats, reminding myself how fortunate we are to live in such a diverse community. The kids may have thought they'd earned a fun, Friday field trip to the movies, but I knew better; the outing afforded them an opportunity to look back at history and understand part of the reason why they came to sit together in the first place.

According to the Illinois Interactive Report Card (IIRC), Nichols Middle School's 2012 student body is:

  • 40.6% White
  • 27.8% Black
  • 19.7% Hispanic
  • 3.6% Asian
  • 0.4% American Indian and
  • 7.9% Multi Racial

According to the IIRC, 46% of the school's 554 students come from low income households, which is 5% higher than the district average.

The U.S. Census results of May 2012 remind us that "minorities" in America are now the majority. On Nov. 16 in Evanston, IL, 147 years after the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawed slavery, there was, quite simply, a group of children eating popcorn together while watching a movie.

John C Thomson November 28, 2012 at 12:39 AM
The movie had its educational points but the swearing and deragatory references would have needed further instructional sessions as to what was then and what is now. The language was unnecessary. Did you really keep those kids attentive to what was an awfully long movie?
JT November 28, 2012 at 03:40 PM
To Mr. Thomson, My son is one of the kids in that group from Nichols. Trust me when I tell you there isn't a middle-school kid around who hasn't heard swear words and/or derogatory references. As a parent who has chaperoned several field trips for this same group, I can assure you that every since trip has been vetted carefully by the school, and every experience is covered in depth after the event, in large- and small-group discussions. I am very glad that our children have the opportunity to not only see movies like "Lincoln," go to museums, plays and other events, but especially to do so under the tutelage of their instructors, in the company of their peers. Where else to gain understanding and perspective of what can be complicated social, emotional, political, historical, and geographic issues than in a diverse environment? How better to do it than with the guidance of their teachers, accompanied by various parents and guardians? To gain a good understanding of what our children experience in the schools, I suggest that curious bystanders ask parents, ask the administration, and keep posting questions in public forums where others can respond. Every community member deserves to know what their taxes support. In my case -- as a parent of three kids in District 65 -- I am very pleased with what I see my children are getting out of their school experiences.
Christine Wolf November 30, 2012 at 04:44 AM
JT, thank you for your thoughtful response. I couldn't agree more.
John C Thomson November 30, 2012 at 05:38 AM
I am glad JT my question allowed you to articulate the broader ramifications of the students involvement in the seeing of the movie. I still find fault with the movie's choice in the use of immoral language. As a resident of Evanston for the past 35 years I consider myself a little more than a curious bystander, COE-Pops, Ceda Neighbors at Work, former candidate for Ridgeville Park District, former candidate for City Council, AYSO volunteer coach, Forum Organizer for the study of conditions for released prisoners, plus personally apprehending the perpetrator of a man who assaulted a pregnant woman on Dempster might suggest to you than I am a concerned citizen. I am a father of three and grandfather of four.
John C Thomson November 30, 2012 at 05:48 AM
Oh, one more thing, since I've listed my community resume, the funnest (taking liberties with the English language) thing I did was for three years taught a combination class of creative writing, geography and math at Robert Crown using nothing but baseball cards. The Traveling Secretary of the Chicago White Sox came to our class and to our year end Banquet, A trip to Comiskey Park was included.


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