Mayor visits Libertyville classroom
Libertyville Village President Terry Weppler sits "crisscross applesauce" during a visit with Adler School kindergarteners Sept. 20. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2012 2:19AM
LIBERTYVILLE — It was a vexing question for a kindergartener, but Gwen Dinklenburg just had to ask, “Can a girl be mayor?”
Yes, she can, Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler answered. Then he proved it.
Setting up an impromptu village board, Weppler tapped six youngsters to act as trustees and Elise Nowicki as mayor. Arranging the board members on seven chairs lined up in front of the class, Nowicki took her spot in the middle, the same position Weppler occupies during village board meetings.
The Libertyville mayor visited the District 70 Adler Park School full-day kindergarten class Sept. 20 as part of a lesson on community members that also has brought police officers, veterinarians, firefighters and others to the classroom.
A lesson in how a village is run is an important one for 5- and 6-year-olds, Weppler said later.
That’s why he chose an agenda item for consideration to which he thought the students could relate: Should Libertyville have fireworks?
After a careful discussion of cost, safety and who would attend, clerk Caleb Sanders polled the board members for their vote. The decision passed 6-0 — all were in favor of fireworks.
“You notice she didn’t vote,” Weppler said, indicating Nowicki.
A mayor only votes to break a tie, he told the group.
“I’ve voted three times in three and a half years on 1,000 agenda items,” he said. “Our trustees are really important people on the board, because they make the decisions.”
If residents don’t like the decisions the board members make, “next time they can vote for someone else, because that’s a democracy,” Weppler said.
Weppler encouraged the youngsters to get involved in running a village, a park district or a school district, and to be sure to call him — or have their parents call — when they have ideas.
The visit to Adler was part of his job, Weppler said later. Speaking to students from kindergarten through high school is something Weppler has done ever since he took the oath of office.
“It’s the best part of being mayor,” he said.
Adler Park Principal Jon Bogie said he appreciates the visits.
“Government is a really difficult concept for kindergartners,” Bogie said. “Putting a face to that really makes it genuine for them.”
The lesson also offered a teachable moment on democracy, he added.
“They see they can have access to their elected officials.”~.