Junior seeks library card access for all EG students

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Junior seeks library card access for all EG students

Hailey Gray, Staff Reporter

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As a child, Robert DeMonte grew up without access to entertainment technology, such as an XBox or PlayStation.

He did, on the other hand, have access to books.

“I feel that the books I had access to made an impact on who I am today, so I feel that every student, regardless of their financial status, should have equal access and opportunities,’’ DeMonte said.

DeMonte, a junior at Elk Grove High School, has recently been working to make a change for the better within the District 214 community.

Starting off last school year, Robert was involved in the SLC Course, otherwise known as Sophomore Leadership Cohort, here at EGHS. Within this class, students work through service and learning experiences to make a better overall impact on our world.

“We believe that all students have the ability to take control of their own narrative,” SLC teacher Jim Arey said in an email. “We know that students can thrive when they are engaged in relevant, authentic learning. By integrating experiential learning and opportunities to serve the community, students will discover how they can make a positive impact on Elk Grove High School, their communities, and the world.”

Within this three-period class, DeMonte was inspired specifically by Arey to start working on a project of his choice.

“My job was simple,” Arey said. “I operated from the premise of a serving leader. What do you need? How can I help?”

Soon before this, Arey brought to DeMonte’s attention that unincorporated areas such as the Oasis mobile home park in unincorporated Elk Grove Township do not have access to many public benefits such as library cards. In other words, since these areas don’t pay property taxes to the township that they live in, they are excluded from the many benefits the township has to offer.

“It’s not even just library cards,” DeMonte said. “In fact, even when calling the police department, they try to shuffle through the different departments just to end up just sending the sheriff, making response times way too long.”

This prompted DeMonte to focus in on this area for his personal project. His goal is to allow every student of every area,  specifically the unincorporated ones, to have the ability to own and use their own public library cards.

Within this past year, DeMonte has met with both Township High School District 214 Superintendent Dr. David Schuler and Illinois Sen. Laura Murphy in hopes of gaining their support as well.

“With the help and support of Sen. Murphy, we don’t see how we can be denied,” Arey said in an email. “Teachers and students working together are capable of doing the impossible. We will not relent. We will not stop.”

The process has been slow, but it’s definitely made its progress and continues to do so. At this point, DeMonte is just waiting for the approval and support from the libraries including Arlington Heights and Niles to continue.

By the end of this process, DeMonte said he hopes for every student in Elk Grove’s boundaries to get a library card, and he will continue working to do so.

“I would like to thank Mr. Arey and Mr. [Ricardo] Castro, along with the entire SLC for inspiring me to do this,” Demonte said. “Without them, I wouldn’t even have had this idea to start the project.”