The Northwest Suburban Peace & Education Project formed in the spring of 2004. We all lived and worked in the community. Many of us had children in the public schools. As parents and community members we were concerned about the role of the military in our schools. This became very clear in the run-up to the Iraq war. The government was beating the drums of war and the military recruiters were all over the high schools trying to recruit young people. We felt the need to offer an alternative view.
District 214 is the second largest high school district in the state of Illinois. It includes the suburbs of Elk Grove Village, Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Mt Prospect, Prospect Heights and Buffalo Grove. There are six high schools. Together this includes about 12,000 students.
Starting in 2004 until 2019 we set up a table in the commons area in each high school usually once a month. We talked to the students; offered career alternatives; and tried to raise their awareness of the militarism in society. We often had a theme centered on a particular event – e.g. International Day of Peace, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day. We produced a zine which included submissions from District 214 students. And we hosted public events.
We had been losing members over the years. None of us have children or grandchildren in any D214 schools any longer. Then in 2019 the school district essentially made the decision for us by implementing a new policy which restricts all outside groups to one visit/semester. Although there were slight differences in how the policy was administered between the six high schools, it was a game changer for us. To be clear, the same policy applied to the military. In fact there was a rumor that the policy came about by a parent angry about the presence of recruiters at the school with free access to the students. Then the pandemic hit and access to students was limited. At that point we decided to disband. Our blog, which we started in 2010, follows.
Libby Frank June 2021