Congresswoman Robin Kelly donates books to H-F


It was books galore in the H-F library on Friday, April 5. U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly visited H-F to donate 100 books to the school library as a part of the Library of Congress’ Surplus Books Program.

Kelly met with staff, librarians and students of Candi Helsel-Wilks and J.R. Rose’s Aesthetics & Creative Process Across the Arts class to discuss her role in Congress and also for an open discussion.

Librarians Alicia Rodriguez and Jane Harper were very surprised by Kelly’s visit and were happy that she came and personally spoke to students and donated the books.

“We thought a box of books would just be delivered and that would be it,” Harper said. “She was really genuine with the students and she wasn’t acting as a typical politician. She was very sincere and lowkey and I loved that about her.”

The class has been working with Harper and Rodriguez on a special Shark Tank inspired project. The project consists of taking old items such as tires, old pen cartridges and even a paper towel roll and restoring it for a new use.

For the project, students started with research on their specific object. Next, they brainstormed possible repurpose uses. Now, they are learning how to pitch their ideas in front of a “panel of sharks” for their competition.

Junior Jacob Kirlin explained how he was had experience with art and complex concepts. He is working with old blue jeans and trying to turn them into a new useful item.   

“It intrigues me to figure out new things about jeans while doing this project. It has taught me so much and I’ve learned how to create something new from jeans that i wouldn’t have thought I could,”Kirlin said.

Before the students began to share their projects with Kelly, she explained her role in Congress and shared some of the things she was working to improve in her district.

“There is a lot more for [Congress] to do. It’s not just about legislation. It’s about police-community relations and investing in people and communities,” Kelly said. “There’s also a lot more to do around education and making sure that every school, no matter the zip code, receives quality education to ensure that everyone can go to college and get a job afterwards.”

Kelly loved the idea of the Shark Tank inspired project that the students were working on. She talked about how the students getting a feel for making strategies and collaborating with others now can be stepping stones in the future.

“Group work and innovation is important to me no matter what profession you choose,” Kelly said. “You learn that you can stretch yourself and you bring value to the table.”

She also stressed the importance of getting involved in government early.

“It’s really important that your voice is heard when you turn 18 and even before that. I urge you all to take advantage of that because it’s really the only way that things can change,”Kelly said. “If you don’t like something, your voice needs to be at the table or your issues will be on the menu.”

Rodriguez enjoyed the discussion with Kelly and was glad that students got a chance to meet with her.

“After her presentation, I felt a greater connection with her representation as a local politician. It really showed me that she cares about education and literacy and that’s it very important to her,” Rodriguez said. “We were really excited to have her and so were the students.”

“I think everyone should give back. Everyone has a talent they can share and also, I believe we should give back to lift others up because when one person does good, everyone does better,”Kelly said.