On November 17th, 2017, 6 students from the West 40 Regional Safe School testified during the ISBE Budget hearing. Essentially, they told their story, shared how alternative programs changed their lives, thanked the Board for supporting alternative programs and requested consideration of increased funding. The Board and the State Superintendent, Dr. Tony Smith, were noticeably moved as the students concluded and shook every member's hand.
Frank Giosa, Middle School principal, shared his thoughts: "I believe that it was a pure act of generosity on behalf of the students as they “put themselves out there,” shared intimate details of their world... their traumas that have influenced choices that did not reflect their best selves. By doing this, they were at-risk of opening the door to judgement from people they should not feel safe with and yet, they did this for the benefit of future students to come, not only in West Cook, but throughout the state who they will never meet. These six amazing, intelligent, extremely courageous young men took on this responsibility to advocate for things that they may never directly see or experience the impact. They shared their story for others to benefit, for others to have the same opportunity that they have been given for more than a second chance, but a second family (for some, maybe a first “family”). Generosity in its purest form."