Saturday, April 12, 2014

Go Green for Ghana!

We are going green again!  In celebration of Earth Day, we are going to try and get the McCracken community to use ACT items instead of throw away items!  So check out our color changing cups, sandwich cases, tote bags and more for your everyday needs!  The items are only $1 a piece and will be on sale at April Show-ers and in advisory! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Dance Marathon!

On Friday, April 4th, Student Council and ACT are hosting the 2nd Annual Dance Marathon for Rustic Falls!  We are excited for a Decades themed dance to raise money for Rustic Falls!  We hope to see everyone there.  Advisors are handing out the forms this week!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Leap for Ghana Speeches

Thank you to those students who volunteered to speak at the concert. Your speeches were heartfelt and really made an impact on the people gathered that night. Here are the three speeches made by students at the concert:


Good evening, everyone.

My name is Karen, of ACT and also McCracken Singers. On behalf of Ms. Ciok, Ms. Blades, Ms. Nyzinski, and all the members of ACT, as well as all of our beneficiaries in Ghana, I would like to welcome you to the 3nd annual Leap for Ghana Concert.

I’m sure most of you know that ACT is a charity organization here at McCracken, run by Ms. Ciok and supported by 8th grade service learning work overseen by Ms. Blades. This organization is populated by students of all grades here. We are a small branch of the real orphanage in Ghana run by A Better Life for Kids, started by Ms. Shelly Nyzinski. We have been working very hard through our years here to raise money for the orphans. Our money, every cent of it, goes directly to the children and their needs across the sea. It funds many different things, which you will hear more about later, in order to fulfill the orphans’ everyday needs such as food, water, home, medicine, as well as more advanced issues such as education. ACT continues to set goals for the future to do more with less, and do as much for the children in Ghana as is humanly possible.

Tonight, you all came to see a concert. Yes, the singing is important and wonderful, yes you came to have a good time and support your kids or friends. But the real reason you are here is much simpler. The reason you are here tonight is because you want every child to have a good life. To have food, everyday. To have a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, a roof over their heads. To be able to have an education, and to be happy. So yes, you came for the concert, but really, you came because you saw the chance to give some nice child out there that you’ve only heard about a good life, just because you know its right. You wanted to make sure there was a better life for kids. I want to thank all of you for donating your time and money to our performance, and to assure you that even though it seems small to you, your donation is making someone happy. With your help, we can aid the children together. It’s that simple, yet it’s true. So thank you all for coming, and I hope you enjoy our show!

ACT Events:

How are you liking all this wonderful music so far? Good evening, to you all, I’m Beatriz, and I have had the great opportunity to be a part of ACT. This school year we have raised a little over $2,100 so far this year thanks to you guys!

November 15th, we hosted a delicious spaghetti dinner before the Wizard of Oz. There we raised $1,406! We were able to have a great meal, raffle off some cool prizes, and watch a fabulous production! We wouldn’t have been able to host such a grand event without the help of Organic Life, and all of our gracious donors, so thank you so much to all of you guys.

One of our greatest contributors and partners is Chicago Fire soccer superstar, Patrick Nyarko. By himself, he has graciously donated $500, as well as a signed jersey! We felt so fortunate to have him attend our spaghetti dinner!

We have also raised money February 12th at hearts for Ghana, a special Valentine making session with a photo booth. Thank you to Ms.Gammeri, Ms.Kopp, and Ms.Monak for making this great event happen! We raised $104 and had so much fun!

Yesterday, ACT took a field trip to the Holocaust Museum for Student Leadership day. Our guest speaker was Hudson Taylor, NCAA Division 1 wrestler and Columbia University coach. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, NCAA stands for, “National Collegiate (co-leej-ette) Athletic Association. Hudson Taylor founded Athlete Ally, a non-profit organization that helps change sportsmanship, and the interaction between athletes. He taught us the power of words, and the impact we can have, both negative, or positive. The impact we have on these children in Ghana is remarkable. Not only do we aid children together, we transform lives. ACT is more than an organization that provides basic needs. It provides food for the starving, education for the uneducated, medical attention for the ill, assistance for the helpless, and most importantly, hope for the hopeless. Not only are you supporting these talented singers, but thanks to all of you guys, we are able to provide these children with a bright future, and that’s something they will never forget. Enjoy the rest of your evening, and thank you once again for your support.


When I first met Mrs. Nizynski, I was in second grade. She was an amazing teacher, but I was most fascinated in the sign language she taught our class. We learned the entire alphabet and even learned how to sign a song from The Jungle Book. A few years later I heard about the organization she was starting, A Better Life For Kids. I wanted to get involved, because I heard that there were orphaned children in Ghana who couldn’t even eat three meals a day. My brother was adopted, so the fact that there were children could be like he was, without a family and that they weren’t being fed and educated broke my heart. I have been in ACT for the past to years, and I feel so honored to finally be able to participate in Leap for Ghana. Being in Act has taught me so much about how the children in Ghana are being treated, especially the deaf children. I think that the sign language that Mrs. Nizynski taught our class and the children in Ghana has made so much of a learning difference here and there. I love the idea that being in ACT is helping the children in Ghana survive, and stay educated. ACT also made me realize how lucky I am, to be able to go to school and learn. What Mrs.Nizynski is doing is amazing and I’m so happy to be a part of it.

Together as a McCracken community we have learned about charity and giving back, and it has changed us forever and made us all better people. We would like to thank Ms. Ciok and Mrs. Blades for guiding, teaching, and helping us through this journey. We would also like to thank Ms. Nizynski for showing us what it really means to be a good person. Another shout out to the administration of McCracken and District 73.5; they have given us this opportunity to give back and help others. If you would like to know anything else about ACT, please visit our blog at or a Better Life for Kids at Thank you so much for coming tonight; you have all made a difference.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Leap for Ghana

I couldn't be prouder of the the student's successful effort at the Leap for Ghana concert.  On February 27th, A.C.T. and the 8th grade choirs raised almost $2000 to benefit A Better Life for Kids.  Beautiful music performed in groups or solos, along with heartfelt speeches, capped off a wonderful night.  Thank you to everyone who helped make the evening a success!  And thank you also to Klein Printing, Organic Life and Custom Print Graphics for your generous donations year after year.

Check out the pictures below, along with an article by Mike Isaacs that captures what the night is all about!

And for more information about the Eggs for Kids campaign, see this article: 

Ms. Blades pops popcorn for sale!

Ms. Nizynski with her students
Ms. Ciok and Ms. Nizynski

Ms. Keipert directs the choir in warm ups!

The NNHS students return for another event!

And what a successful night!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

7th and 8th grade Student Leadership Day

On February 26, 2014, ten of us had the privilege of attending Student Leadership Day at the Illinois Holocaust Museum Education Center.  Throughout the day, we learned the power of words and how they help to shape our identity.

At the beginning of the day, we started with our own names and what they mean to us.  We then moved on to the words that describe and mean something to us.  After figuring out our mission statements for the day, we heard Aaron Elster speak about his horrific experiences during the Holocaust.  He shared the impact of the words of Nazi Germany on his psyche and how hard it was to overcome those awful experiences.  He challenged the students to speak up to family and friends if they hear injustice, make a difference in the world, do good by taking small steps, and taking a chance!
Aaron Elster:  Holocaust Survivor

After that, we had a chance to explore the museum.  Our goal was to find ways that words were used to hurt others and ways they were used to make positive change.  We explored the Harvey Miller Youth Exhibit and the permanent exhibit.

Hudson Taylor:  Founder of Athlete Ally

Then we had a chance to hear Hudson Taylor from Athlete Ally speak about acceptance on and off the field.  He spoke about becoming a champion of inclusion and victory through unity.  His message included standing up for the dignity of others and that it's "cool to be kind".  He left everyone wondering how we could make the world a better place by saying that we are "always in a moment where we can take action; the question is will we?"  He gave students and teachers four principles:

1.  Treat others as they want to be treated.
2.  In everything you do in life, you should seek to maximize happiness and minimize suffering.
3.  You should always act so long as the burdens of that action do no outweigh the benefits of that action.
4.  You are responsible for whatever history of which you are a part.  The culture you create today effects the students of tomorrow!

Hudson also gave some tips:
1.  Be educated
2.  Be explicit
3.  Use your virtual voice and share what you believe in
4.  Wear your beliefs on your sleeve
5.  Fix the broken windows because our environment shapes our conduct

Hudson reminded us that there has never been a successful social movement without the support of the majority.  "Create a place where people can thrive, not just survive.  Change is what you do when you have no options left!"

Our students with Hudson Taylor!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Leap for Ghana

Join us for Leap for Ghana on February 27, 2014!   We are excited to have everyone there for a wonderful night of music and fun to raise money for a wonderful cause.  Come learn more about the new Eggs for Kids initiative!  Hope to see you there!  $5 suggested donation!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Hearts for Ghana

On Wednesday, February 12th, we had a wonderful celebration in the Learning Center for our Hearts for Ghana event.  This event is always such a nice one hosted by our wonderful librarians.  The photo booth was a huge success and such fun!  Thanks to Ms. Gammeri for figuring out the new photo booth app!  This year, the event raised $105!

We also talked about the celebration of International Red Hand Day.  This day is to plea "to political leaders to draw attention to the fates of child soldiers.  The aim of Red Hand Day is to call for action against this practice and support children who are affected by it."  We created our own red hands to make a heart.

Some of these pictures are from our rose making event.  You will see these roses at our next event, Leap for Ghana on February 27th!  We look forward to seeing you there!!