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Impact Networking and Pickard Elementary: The Road to Springfield

Impact Networking and local Pilsen school, Pickard Elementary, have had a relationship for the past 11 years. This year, that relationship went a little further—actually it went all the way to Springfield.

On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, students and their chaperones – seven Pickard staff members, two parents and Pickard’s two 8th Grade teachers, Deborah Brogan and Marina Mantel—were to report to the school by 4:45am. Mantel, however, pulled up to a surprise.

“I thought I was getting to school early at 4:20am, as students were to report to the school at 4:45am.” Mantel said. “When I pulled up, not only were the buses there, but our students, along with their parents, were lined up outside the school anxiously awaiting our departure.”

After a 3-hour drive, the group arrived in Springfield and the students’ busy day finally started. Following a quick visit to a bookshop for souvenirs, they went on to see Lincoln’s Tomb, The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield’s Historic Neighborhood, The Old State Capitol and Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, which is a reconstruction of the village where Abraham Lincoln spent his early adulthood.

The biggest highlight for the students was the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. They loved seeing two virtual movies about Abraham Lincoln that featured actors and sound effects, and enjoyed the tour of the 17-room White House featured within the Library as an exhibit.

Brogan even said, “The library was amazing!”

Students buzzed about their day throughout dinner and their bus ride home.

“I’ve never seen my students so engaged with history/ historical sites as I did on this trip,” said Mantel. “Impact has opened the eyes of my students to what’s possible in the world and given a gift that they will endure for their entire life!”

For the past 11 years, Impact and Pickard have been working together during the Christmas season to bring presents and a school-wide pizza party to Pickard students. This year, Impact wanted to become more involved in student development and education, and in turn used the surplus from the Christmas event –a total donation of $7,500—to help send the entire 2016 graduating class, 57 students, to their first-ever Springfield fieldtrip.

“In the long run, education is everything,” Impact Networking Partner and Document Solutions Account Executive, Nate Robinson said. “We absolutely love seeing the children light up during the Christmas season, but when you can help them get the same excitement for their education and future, that is the most rewarding thing we can offer.”

When the eighth grade students found out about the donation, they made sure to express their appreciation by writing letters to Impact. The reminisced on their younger days at Pickard, the Christmas gifts they have received from Impact, and shared their excitement and for the trip and being able to spend time with their peers.

“You gave us this opportunity that 99% of us would not have gotten without you,” Jenova said.

“We will be the first class from Pickard to go to Springfield,” Bernice said. “Everyone was so excited and happy knowing that no one will get left behind and we can all go.”

“A lot of my best memories here at Pickard have been because of your generosity,” Esmeralda said. “What would we do if you guys did not help us to earn money for our trip? Thankfully, we will not have out find out that answer.”

Impact is working to become a staple resource for students throughout their journey at Pickard and are planning to have a Career Day to expand students’ career horizons, offer advice and help them learn what it takes to have a successful career.

“A Career Day at Impact would be a great experience for the students,” Pickard Elementary teacher and Impact/Pickard relations coordinator Patrick Rand said. “From meeting some of the people that are a part of their Christmas experience, to possibly finding a career that sparks their interest; it’s an exciting opportunity that we are hoping will prove beneficial to their futures.”

During Pickard’s 8th Grade Graduation this past June, Robinson was asked to be a guest speaker.

“It’s incredible to see how far the students have come,” Robinson said. “When I first started helping out with Letters to Santa, I never imagined our relationship would have grown as it has. Seeing the students grow the past 10 years has been a great experience, especially knowing that Impact, as well as myself, have been a part of their education and some of their fondest memories at Pickard.”

Pickard recently created an award in honor of Impact, given out to the student that made the biggest impact to their peers and teachers. It was unanimously given to graduating 8th grader, Leonardo Loeza.

“It was a unanimous decision to name the award for Impact and to choose Leo as the first recipient,” Rand said. “He has all of the character, integrity, leadership skills and generous spirt that Impact exemplifies in their daily work.”