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Students Hold Candlelight Vigil for Teachers' Strike

Lake Forest High School students demonstrate their desire for their teachers to return to class.

Students lined the sidewalk outside of Lake Forest High School this evening for a candlelight vigil to show support for the striking teachers as well as a desire to get back to normal school days as soon as possible. 

Kevin Doherty, a junior at LFHS, organized the vigil as a way to unite his peers and to demonstrate a non-partisan desire to get the teachers back in the school. He circulated a petition at the event for students to sign saying that they wanted their teachers back — he plans on making a copy for both the Board and the union.

"I miss my teachers a lot," Doherty said. "A lot of them are more than teachers to me — they're friends and mentors — and I really miss them a lot. This is my way of speaking up, and saying that we miss them and want them to come back." 

Read our full coverage of the LFHS teachers strike here. 

While Doherty acknowledge that candlelight vigils are typically used after a death or other tragedy, he said that he felt they were a good way to bring people together, which is exactly what he felt the school needed now. 

About 25 students showed up for the vigil, and the tone varied between light (with students laughing about the schedule in place for the last two days, or catching up with friends they hadn't seen recently) and somber, with students speaking about how LFHS teachers had changed their lives. 

"I wouldn't be the person that I am today without these teachers. They shaped me and inspired me," said Mollie Blahunka, a senior at LFHS. 

"We all have had that one teacher who really affects us. Even when they push us hard, we know it's for the best," said Caroline May, also a student at LFHS. 
While the teachers did not attend the vigil — they said they wanted it to remain as neutral as possible — they did send a message to be read there. It said, "You are with us in spirit. We want nothing more than to be back as soon as we can. We know LFHS is the best school to teach at, and that is because of the students." 

Lake Forest High School remained open today for its second mandatory attendance day during the strike. The school is staffed by a mix of certified teachers, assistants, aides, administrators and volunteers.

Although an earlier statement by the school noted that there would be a full day of quality programming, some students don't see it as worthwhile. 

"I honestly just watched movies all day," said Priscilla Muller, a junior. "I felt like it was just busy work. … I get tired of school a lot, but now I just want to get back to classes." 

"Our parents want us to go, but we don't want to. We try to sneak away," said Ben Schoeller, also junior. "It's like jail in there. … I felt scared." Schoeller noted that there were uniformed officers standing at every exit, so students couldn't leave as the pleased during the day. 

The Board and the teachers' union resumed negotiations at 3 p.m. this afternoon. As of publication, they remain in talks. A statement made on the Lake Forest Teacher's Facebook page read, "We can report that progress is being made." 

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Outsider September 22, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I am much more well informed than you believe and have been following this entire situation with interest given what transpired in Wisconsin. I never suggested it was about union busting. I only stated the facts about what happened in Wisconsin and suggested if your teachers were so terrible come see what happened to Wisconsin schools when anti-union tactics crippled the classrooms. How benovlent of you to call 3% a generous increase--what have your raises looked like in the last few years?. And they did not take your children hostage--it was a work stoppage and it's impossible to have a work stoppage when the classrooms are empty. Good thing you're not in the classroom (as a student) because becasue based on your single-minded carrying on--you're uneducable.
CatLoverr September 22, 2012 at 09:32 PM
@me. Wait a sec. Held your children hostage? Can you please explain your reasoning for saying that?
CatLoverr September 22, 2012 at 09:33 PM
@Outsider: You are...as your screen name states, an OUTSIDER. You don't live here so you don't understand the situation as much as the people who are living it. No offense, but you don't have much of a say in this conversation.
Stevie Janowski September 22, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Your an idiot if thats your personal belief. Glad you and 5 other liberal students showed up for the candle lighting. I wasn't aware a teacher died!
Me September 23, 2012 at 01:49 AM
@Outsider - For someone who is so well informed, you are severely lacking in some basic information. My conversation with you is finished. Good day. @cat - Just as a hostage taker might send a note that says "give me money or I will kill your child", I hostage taker might also send a note that says "give me money or I will kill your child's education for this year". This is especially true of the children in 12th grade who are applying for college. This is what the teachers did. They used the leverage of saying that it would only hurt them a little bit to hold out but the damage to the children would be immeasurable. Nice folks huh? Don't forget, these are the people who are "passionate" about your education.
JR September 23, 2012 at 05:46 AM
That is going too far ME. LF teachers weren't the only teachers in the US to strike. This is something that has been going on for decades. Teachers have 'lives' too and families to support outside of their jobs. They are not evil people taking people's kids hostage while they are on strike for a couple of 'DAYS'. They do care about the students whether you believe that or not. I can bet that most teachers sacrifice more of 'their' time than any other employee/er out there, except for maybe clergies and millionaire execs. who jet all over the world.
Me September 23, 2012 at 12:28 PM
@JR - You are either naive or you are lying to yourself. The teachers' union knows precisely what leverage it holds. That leverage is the child's education that is being withheld until the School Board caves in to their demands. Since YOU brought them into the discussion, when was the last time you saw the clergy go on strike because they wanted a raise? Your time sacrifice comment is laughable. If you compare the number of hours a teacher (or even a teacher/coach) spends at school, preparing lessons, grading papers, practicing and at games it would not even approach the 50+ hours that many similarly compensated professionals spend at their jobs. 50 hours a week times 47 weeks (that is 52 weeks less 3 weeks vacation less 10 paid holidays) a year is 2350 hours on the job in the private sector. On top of that, the vast majority of the taxpayers aren't millionaire execs. When I travel on business, I catch 6:30am flights out and I usually return home near 11:00pm. These hours aren't included in the calculation. Lets see you math that totals 2350 hours for the average teacher. However, this is not the issue. Our teachers are already in the top 1% in the state and we were offering 3% plus "lane changes". That wasn't enough for them and they used our kids as leverage to demand more. THAT is what this is all about.
Outsider September 23, 2012 at 01:16 PM
@Me - Maybe if your job was unionized you wouldn't have to catch such early flights, work hours without being paid, and possibly be a happier person who didn't have to spend hours writing posts haranguing a few students who simply wanted to be back in their classrooms (and not for aternatiave educations purposes) and who--for no other purpose--wanted to let the adult community know their position. There are other threads--other stories--you should take your comments there and leave the kids behind this story alone. Go ahead, write me off again--you don't listen to anyone but yourself anyway.
Jen September 23, 2012 at 01:52 PM
@ME, You are 100% correct, but are wasting your time on this site, where some folks simply refuse to see that the emperor has no clothes. They are so locked into their irrational world view that they react emotionally, not rationally, to your posts. You tried, but you really are wasting your time with them.
Gary September 23, 2012 at 03:18 PM
@Jen You are right about everything, except that ME is most definitely not wasting his/her time. You need to know this: "When discussing politics in a crowded room, you are not addressing the opponent sitting across the table from you. You are addressing all those within earshot who sit listening silently. They are the ones who will hear the message." The internet is a very crowded room with many silent listeners.
JR September 23, 2012 at 03:54 PM
How much money do you make for those hours ME? Apparently, enough to live in Lake Forest. Do you even have a Master's Degree? If you think it is such an easy and laughable job, why don't you teach high school? (or anyone else who has been up in arms at the teachers) With that horrible attitude of yours, you wouldn't last.
JR September 23, 2012 at 04:23 PM
...And by the way, as for the hours I mentioned working as a teacher -on another site, I did not have enough 'character space' to keep typing about all the other 'jobs' a teacher will have to do outside of just teaching classes and coaching. You really think that tutoring students, meeting with parents either by person, phone, or email, grading high level course tests-and not by scantron, going to daily and weekly team meetings, etc., and posting grades/homework, etc. on the computer (there are many more jobs I or any teacher can mention here) are all laughable and basically wasteful hours? Can you compare this to sleeping on a plane and driving to the airport a few hours a day?
Me September 23, 2012 at 04:26 PM
@jr - I earn about as much as Chuck Gress. I do have a masters degree and I have 25 years of experience in my field. From my salary, I pay into Social Security (risky investment at best), I pay into my own retirement account (plus 4% from employer) and I pay about $3,000 per year toward my health plan. On the remainder, yes, I am able to live in Lake Forest. Last year I also got 0% as an increase an a portion of the health care cost increases were passed through to employees. Was I happy? No. However, if I didnt like it, I always have the option of seeking employment elsewhere. Will I get a super big raise this year to compensate for last year? No way. That is how things work in the real world. Do I want their job? No, so don't make the juvenile comment that if I want their compensation I should have been a teacher. What I want them to be is PROFESSIONAL and to not use our children as pawns in their chess game focuses on getting fatter raises.
fact checker September 23, 2012 at 05:00 PM
@JR You seem very involved and passionate towards the complete health of this community where you live and work hard to afford to live here (overall misconception being it all came easy). Curiosity forces me to level the playing field and "ponder out loud" as is my background & nature... what would those in favor of the strike for 'justified' (excessive) raises think of a police or fire strike? They serve the community (both parents & children) and have pay scales that are based on those of neighboring communities . This is not big city but LFHS is not CPS. They are college educated and some have chosen to live in the community with kids @ LFHS who (I met a couple last monday & tuesday). Now before being called ignorant, I am aware that their contracts prevent them from the ability to strike but beyond that there are a good deal of 'service sector' similarities except 3% cost of living raises are acceptable to them and they stay for careers. Beyond the bitter aftertaste left from a ticket I still could (and will) argue, they are very genuine & caring people with great community relations. Hmmmmm food for thought yes?
fact checker September 23, 2012 at 05:05 PM
PS. ME & JR am I wrong or are you two arguing against each other from the same side? Sure appears that way.
fact checker September 23, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I probably should have resisted bringing that to this thread & kept it to why I signed in. I wanted to say thank you to the students who's behaviors & responses have been both educational & helpful. A final thought to the students would beto be honest with yourselves and to Kevin's mother. Replace 'scared' with angry and frustrated Ben. The 'police officers @ the doors' were parent volunteers who informed you that if you left school without parental permission you could be caught & cited for truancy (and yes we were well aware that some left & weren't caught). The presentations were not just 'movie watching' Cat but you opted not to find any interest as was your choice. You students arrived @ school having been told by the teachers 'what a joke' this was & we were there to threaten & muscle them back (that was what was said to me from teachers) and some of you treated the volunteers as 'the enemy' not polite but unfortunately anticipated. Your choice for the vigil was healthy, your words and actions towards those who offered help was not. So be it. Back to school you are so enjoy. Til we meet again....
CatLoverr September 23, 2012 at 07:07 PM
1. More than 5 students showed up. 2. Don't you dare call me an idiot. 3. I'm not a liberal. 4. A teacher didn't die, don't worry.
CatLoverr September 23, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I agree with JR completely.
CatLoverr September 23, 2012 at 07:09 PM
@Outsider: I agree completely. @Jen: We're reacting emotionally because the entire vigil was an EMOTIONAL event.
CatLoverr September 23, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Not to mention that they also have personal lives to worry about. Kids that get sick, families that need to be taken care of.
CatLoverr September 23, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I never said they were movie watching. I was not quoted in this article, by the way. The teachers did NOT call it a joke. They called it "the best the board could do on such short notice", and that is exactly what it was. I know that the presentations were not movie watching. They were just boring. We weren't interacting in a classroom, being taught by amazing people who are passionate about what they are teaching us. Thats the problem. How can you be excited to learn when the people teaching you aren't? I'm glad we have our teachers back. They are amazing people and I love each and every one of them. And if they were here to help me defend them they could tell you how passionate they are about their work and their students. Earlier someone said that they make about as much as Mr. Gress. Good for you. But I doubt you deserve it. Mr. Gress is an amazing teacher, even though I have only known his for a month or so. Though I do not know/ care about the salaries of my teachers, I know they deserve every cent they make. As JR said before, it's hard to be a teacher. It really is.
CatLoverr September 23, 2012 at 07:24 PM
(second half) I mean, anyone can stand in front of a classroom and preach all they want, but it takes years of college, experience, and passion to be able to stand in front of a class of teenagers, teach them, grade tests, conference, deal with parents, deal with the occasional disrespectful kid, go to meetings, everything that JR mentioned, and do it all with a smile on your face. These teachers love us and only did what is right for us. Don't you dare insult them ever,because they are wonderful people that deserve nothing less than your utmost respect.
LF Mom September 23, 2012 at 08:03 PM
CatLoverr-The only reason I check this is to be sure you are OK. Not that I don't don't think you can handle yourself it's just that there seems to be no low adults will go to try to get the upper hand with you. You will never get these people to understand so maybe it's time to walk away. No one can ever change what was in your heart and you have demonstrated what a fine person you are. My next post will be a bit long, keep what you did in mind when you read it.
LF Mom September 23, 2012 at 08:12 PM
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. Words to live by from Mother Theresa.
CatLoverr September 23, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I agree, LFMom. You're right. These adults have no standards and are definitely not above insulting minors behind a screen name. Thank you for looking out for me.
Louis September 23, 2012 at 09:09 PM
@LF Mom: I heart you. Glad there are some decent people posting here. @CatLoverr: I agree with @LF Mom that walking away from rigid, abusive people is always best. It will save you peace of mind. Some people are closed for good and you won't reach them no matter what you say. Dialogue and exchange of ideas only work when there's some openness in the humanity of your partner. Clearly, that humanity is lacking in some here, evinced by their willingness to go after others. I won't say they are behaving like children, because most kids I know are a lot kinder. No, they're sad little reprobates. Go lead a better life. Cheers.
CatLoverr September 23, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Will do. They aren't worth my time anymore.
LF Mom September 23, 2012 at 09:45 PM
factchecker-If 1 or more teachers told you the alternative ed days were a joke and that the volunteers were there to threaten and muscle the students can you tell me how many teachers said that and which children were told that as well as when? How do you know the students treated the volunteers as the enemy? And, how many students exactly did that? Honestly, your post sounds like gossip more than fact. You want to stick to the facts than please do that. The biggest problem with all this is the distortion and manipulation of information. Please do not tell these students they need to be honest with me about how they felt. I respect their feelings for the way they found to express them. I'm in the book and would welcome a call if you would like to discuss this FACTUALLY.
Pat Lyon September 23, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Sincere thanks for that quote. True words to live by. Period.
JR September 23, 2012 at 11:24 PM
I apologize, I should have mentioned that the police, fire dept., and all of our service men and women here and overseas sacrifice a great, great deal too and should be compensated way better than they are, everywhere in the US. I thought of that after I wrote my other blog. It is very sad that Illinois cannot come up with a better way to pay for education, etc. I know we live in the suburbs of Chicago, but still... I'm not even sure if we are behind New York City & suburbs in property taxes anymore. California may be the only state that is ahead of us if I'm even right...? I could be wrong, but that is what I heard once on the news. I haven't checked that fact lately, but maybe you could 'fact checker'. The stress due to our property taxes, high mortgages, gasoline, basic "cost of living" in this area (whole northeastern half of Illinois) is definitely showing now.

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