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Graduates face a new high tech world

  • Written by Joe Boyle

This is the time of year for proms and graduations. Smiling faces are abundant this month as families and students have plenty of reason to celebrate.

My daughter graduated from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb on Saturday. Like other proud parents, it was a great day for our family. Along with taking photos and listening to the speakers at the ceremony, I could see many delighted graduates waving to parents and friends who gathered for the morning commencement program.

And when they received their diplomas, applause and some shrieks rang out as the graduates looked up and waved again. All the hours of study combined with arranging class schedules, finding places to live and working part-time jobs on campus has come to an end. Long-lasting friendships develop as they officially become alumni.

It was a reminder to me that kids graduating from colleges today are no different than students who received their degrees in the 1980s, 1970s and 1960s. The new graduates approached the world just like students of the past did -- with some apprehension. But they also are confident that they will find the job of their choice. Times change and the economy will play a role at least initially in them finding opportunities.

But I still could not help but see the smiles on the faces of the graduates. They were all generally happy and their parents were proud of their accomplishments.

This is a reminder to me that these kids will go through tough times like everybody else. However, the U.S. is resilient and we can survive the problems the world faces today just like we did yesterday. These kids will go through it. My advice is to keep smiling and just do your best. In the long run that’s all you can do.

I recall listening sometimes to my parents, relatives and neighbors from generations who were born before World War II. The rapid changes that took place in the mid-1960s to the early 1970s were alarming to some of them. The civil rights movement and the anti-war protests against the war in Vietnam were frightening to some of them. Some of our neighbors were angry and others were confused.

Change tends to do that. We need time to develop perspective. The 1960s was a period of asking questions and not just accepting the status quo. We have witnessed rapid changes in this new century. We have gone through the horror of 9/11 followed by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is dead but the rise of the Islamic State has posed a new threat. Reports have indicated that ISIS has been hampered and maybe on the run. But you get the feeling that even if that occurs, another band of fanatics will begin to organize and create more havoc.

Kids have more access to knowledge at their fingertips than I had in my college days. It was interesting to see family members in the stands during the graduation ceremonies staring at their cellphones from time to time. They were often sending texts to the graduating students below. And from time to time, I could see the students sending texts to family members.

We have seen so many advancements in technology in just the last five years that it is hard to keep up. I must admit that I sometimes fall in that category. However, for these students, this is the world they live in. They are very comfortable with cellphones, Wi-Fi, Facebook, Instagram and “binge watching” TV programs they have downloaded.

I thought it was a big deal when cable TV and VCRs became prevalent in the 1980s. When I attended Western Illinois University in Macomb in the mid-1970s, we also had cable. However, there was little if any original programming at the time. Cable TV was available at WIU so that you could see WGN-TV Channel 9 and perhaps a station from nearby Keokuk, Iowa and Quincy. This was such a rural area that without cable, WIU college kids might have three local channels at best.

Today, many college kids don’t even worry about cable. They stream programs or watch Netflix shows. They have the right idea. The price is definitely less expensive.

I salute the graduates of today who are entering a new, technological world. They will survive this election like we survived the 1960s and ‘70s. Whether it’s the Donald or Hillary leading us into the future, recent college graduates will indeed survive.

My advice is keep a sense of humor.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Trump is lone GOP candidate, and that’s reality

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Maybe O.J. Simpson toting a gun as a passenger in the back seat of a white Bronco cruising down an LA freeway back in 1994 is to blame for this. The former NFL running back and actor became a suspect in the brutal murders of his ex-wife and her friend.

What followed was a media frenzy and a nationally televised trial that actually pushed afternoon soap operas to be shown later at night. Simpson became the show, along with Johnnie Cochran, Marcia Clark, Christopher Darden and Judge Lance Ito. And there were those gloves that became Cochran's battle cry of “if they don't fit, you must acquit.”

The end result was that Simpson was declared innocent by the jury, despite the fact that evidence linked him to the scene of the crime in a trail of blood in his white Bronco and near his home. Simpson became the symbol of racist abuse by the Los Angeles police that dated back to the Rodney King beating in 1991. Simpson was never an active participant in civil rights. On the contrary, most of his time was spent with middle-aged white men he played golf with. Of course, he made those “Naked Gun” movies that made us laugh.

Regardless, Simpson was great theater and a ratings bonanza. Reality TV was born. What followed was the MTV’s “The Real World”, “Court TV,” “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” and of late, “Honey Boo Boo,” “Real Wives” and “The Duggars.” Some of these older and present shows enjoyed some success because of devised plots that most of us know are either hyped up to fill out a half hour or hour. In short, there is nothing real about reality TV.

Donald Trump was also a reality TV star. “The Apprentice” gathered healthy ratings where Trump was the main attraction in this formulated plot in which he hired and fired people. Many of these people were B actors or celebrities whose 15 minutes had passed their expiration date. And many of these individuals were eager to accept Trump’s praise or rejection in the name of stardom. Trump was already known as a billionaire developer and larger than life personality who enjoyed the spotlight. His signature catch phrase on “The Apprentice” was “you’re fired.” The show’s popularity encouraged many spin-offs, including “Celebrity Apprentice.”

But Trump’s ambitions have taken on a greater stage. He is now the presumptive Republican candidate for president of the United States. Democrats and Independents initially did not take him seriously until it was too late. Trump and his supporters were later met with protests and physical confrontations at rallies.

But it is not just many Democrats and Independents who oppose Trump. He has also drawn the ire of conservative Republicans who see his campaign as a farce. They oppose him on the basis that he has does not share their conservative values and that he has no chance to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Many moderate Republicans oppose Trump because of his often outrageous statements and volley of insults at the other candidates.

But as we enter the second week of May, Trump is the only Republican standing. He left Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Indiana dust two weeks ago, ending his campaign. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a congenial sort whose campaign never registered a pulse, bowed out the following day after Cruz threw in the towel.

And Clinton, who has most of the delegates sewed up for the convention, cannot put away from the passionate Gov. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent. Sanders will continue to hang around to frustrate Clinton after winning Indiana.

But if Trump seems to have so much opposition, how is he winning? Well, it all comes back to his days as a reality TV star. Barking out you are hired or fired resonates with some people. He did not follow the conventional playbook against his opponents. When they finally began to realize they better start to taking him seriously, Trump would respond by mocking them, criticizing the looks of Carly Fiorina, the lone female GOP candidate, and continually shouting out how America is going to be great again.

We could go on and on about the insults. But for brevity sake, let’s take the most recent. Trump stated on the day he was going to win Indiana suggested that Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, was an associate of John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. And his latest salvo was fired at House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said at this point he is not backing Trump. He needs more time and a chance to talk with the Republican front-runner, Ryan said.

Trump’s response could have been predicted. He said that he may not support Ryan. Trump has someone in his corner. Conservative cheerleader and shrill Sarah Palin backs Trump, essentially saying that they don’t need Ryan.

This is reality TV at its finest. I don’t know where this is leading us to but it will be historic. This will be a brutal campaign and it will leave most of us feeling a little empty.

But just like the sight of that white Bronco, the ratings should be terrific.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

I know a secret about a local politician, and I refuse to conceal it

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Claudia-NEWclaudia and burke photo 5-12

Reporter columnist Claudia Parker and state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th) converse over some issues and took time to pose for a photo.

 

It’s been a year since I optimistically strolled into the Illinois State Capitol located in Springfield. I wasn’t there sightseeing, as many of the students I observed on school field trips. No, I was there as an advocate, on official business.

I recall being slightly intimidated by the suits in the room before bravely speaking into the microphone. I’d been invited to share a personal testimony with legislators in a House Appropriations-Social Services Committee meeting. I was pleading for a funding continuation of Respite Care services for Illinois families.

Respite Care makes personalized, in-home care available to families of dependents with autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy or Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. It’s a state funded program only eligible to those with severe disabilities. I was a recipient of the service for my daughter, Rhonda-Rene, who suffers from a FOXP1 gene mutation that causes several complicated and disabling disorders. In spite of sharing the harm losing the service would cause my family, funding was still suspended- effective July 1, 2015.

The day wasn’t totally ineffective though.

Before giving my speech, I was able to observe the House in session. It was like watching a WWE SmackDown without physical contact. Pretty intense. However, a pleasant experience, for me, was meeting Evergreen Park’s state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th).

An individual in my party stated, “If you write a note to your Legislator saying you’re their constituent, they’ll come out to greet you.”

“Really?” I questioned. I mean, the debates happening on the House floor didn’t seem to lend time for a meet-and-greet. But, I gave-it-a-go anyhow and slipped my note to the guard at the huge door of the House floor.

Within moments, out came a smiling Kelly Burke.

“I’m Claudia Parker”, I told her as I reached to shake her hand. To my complete surprise, she knew who I was.

“Oh yes, Claudia, I read your column in The Reporter,” she responded with a firm shake. We spoke for a few moments. I shared my concerns regarding losing Respite and provided her with a copy of my written personal testimony. Our brief encounter ended with a quick snapshot and she was back to business.

It didn’t occur to me then that that would be the inception of several run-ins where she and I would be supporting the same initiatives.

A couple of months later, we shared a stage during a Southland Rally in front of a couple of hundred people and television news media. I was one of a handful of people who spoke during that rally. My transparency made me feel vulnerable. I held up in front of the crowd but once I got to my car, I had a good hard cry. Kelly walked me off the platform following that speech. “You spoke well,” she told me with a comforting hand on my shoulder. Her encouragement was greatly appreciated.  

The instances I came into contact with her thereafter had nothing to do with lobbying for change. She’s been volunteering in the Evergreen Park Elementary School District. And yours truly has happened to capture a few of those moments on camera. “Well, we just keep running into one another now don’t we?,” I expressed. We recently had a casual chat during a volunteer appreciation breakfast at Northwest School. She’s consistently been warm, sincere, and attentive toward me.

I’ll be the first one to admit, I don’t know much about politics. The little insight I have gained comes from short news segments from television and newspapers, which isn’t the most complimentary. The common sentiment in the media is that politicians are power hungry and corrupt. If one isn’t careful, you could buy in to that notion, especially considering the high profile political corruption cases in Illinois.

That’s why you might agree that the information I’ve learned about Kelly Burke provides a true glimpse into who she “really is” behind closed doors.

Moments before our last encounter at Northwest School, I’d been in conversation with another parent, which I abruptly ended when Kelly walked by. Feeling as though that mom may have felt slighted, I reached out to explain. “My apologies for the swift end to our conversation,” I told her. “That was state Rep. Kelly Burke. I needed to get an update from her on an important issue affecting my family.”

This mom responded, “…I wish I’d known that that was state Rep. Kelly Burke.”

I got a sense she wanted to get something off her chest. She continued. “She saw an article in the newspaper written about an accomplishment of my 7-year-old son and took the time to write him a personal note of encouragement. I would’ve loved to introduce myself to thank her.”

I don’t believe state Rep. Kelly Burke thought this would ever be publicized, but she deserves to be exposed.

She fights for her constituents in Springfield, stands with them during rallies, offering comfort and encouragement, makes herself available for various town hall’s, all while volunteering in elementary schools. She still finds time to write personal notes to students that she’s never met.

Wow!  

I don’t believe Kelly is meeting the needs of the people, she’s exceeding them! My advice to her peers is if you’re going to get caught doing something, make sure it’s something meaningful.  

Remembering advice and smiles from mom

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Charlotte Rose Lynn was born in 1927 and lived near Ogden Park in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. She had four brothers and two sisters and grew up during the Depression.

I think about Charlotte Rose Lynn often. She was my mother and this Sunday is Mother’s Day.

My mother preferred to keep a positive attitude and described her life as a child as fun. It was my father, who also grew up near Ogden Park, who related that life wasn’t always bright for my mom. But growing up in an era when families were struggling during the Depression, we knew life wasn’t always upbeat in those days.

But if my mom had her share of heartaches, you would never know it. She had great memories about her brothers and sisters and the neighborhood she lived in. The only hint of sadness was when she discussed her mother, who she said had a great singing voice. This was a grandmother I would never meet. She became ill and never really recovered. I recall my mom saying that when her mother was being taken to the hospital, she told her to be good and watch over her brothers and sisters.

My grandmother died a few days later at the age of 42. This was a sad time for my mom, who was only in the eighth grade. Her mom would not be there for her teenage years and when she married my father, Frank Boyle, when she was 19.

My parents recall some great times when they were married, including a last-minute car trip to New York to visit relatives. Life became busier for my parents when the kids came along through the 1950s into the mid-1960s. But my mom loved having children and loved all of us.

She had a way of relaying stories to bring up a point or try to steer you in the right direction. This was a subtle gift she had. Instead of getting into arguments, my mom would tell you something in a way that would make you do the right thing. She could appeal to your conscience.

Hey, when you have six kids, my mother was like anyone else. Sometimes we pushed the limits. But we never really wanted to get her angry. Although we would joke with her and tease her on occasion, we didn’t want to make her upset. We had too much respect for her.

When I think of my mother now, I recall specific moments. She would consistently attend Longwood Manor Athletic Association baseball games to watch my brothers and I play baseball. She would take movies that we still have. On one New Year’s Eve, she, with the assistance of my little brothers and one of my sisters, Mary, captured some special moments on film. My one brother, Terry, dressed up as Father Time, using a wrapped hockey stick as a cane. My siblings bid him farewell as he strolled slowly up the stairs, mugging for the camera.

He was replaced by my youngest brother, Bobby, who was just 2 years old, dressed in a Baby New Year’s diaper. Those are some of the random events my mother would organize.

She formed block club parties and became active in neighborhood events. She also worked the polls on Election Day at St. Margaret of Scotland School. She would also watch baseball games with us and cheer on the White Sox. She would also watch Cub games occasionally, since they were mostly on during the day. My mom and my father became big Blackhawks fans after they won the Stanley Cup in 1961.

She was always someone I could count on to cheer me up when I was down. She held birthday parties for us and made Christmases special with her stories while holiday music played in the background.

My mother left us too soon. She died at the age of 47 from cancer. I would have liked to have known her better as an adult. Being young, there is a tendency to take many things for granted. I guess if she was here today I would like to tell her how much I loved her and appreciated her. Somehow, I think she already knew that.

She advised me how to handle bullies and even would go outside with me to play catch. When I first went to school at St. Margaret’s after we moved from Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood, I was a little apprehensive. But then I would arrive home for lunch. My mom would greet me with a smile on her face and some sandwiches and soup.

Suddenly, the world became a better place. Mothers have a way of doing that.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Spirit to overcome is lesson learned when day leads to frustration

  • Written by Claudia Parker

 

Claudia-NEW

“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail,” – Benjamin Franklin.

I’ve adopted this quote and etched it into the cornerstone of my existence. Great words to live by when the application works successfully.

Have you ever seen a Mom meltdown at the front of a tilt-a-whirl? Well, I didn’t actually meltdown outwardly; it was one of those, scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs on the inside, meltdowns. I just purchased my daughters, Donae, 8, and Rhonda-Rene, 5, full access wristbands to Safari Land in Villa Park. Rhonda-Rene, my amusement park enthusiast, vehemently refused to ride ANY of the rides. For those who find my reaction meritless to her offense trust me, this was but ONE of several failures in my perfectly planned day!

I wasn’t even supposed to be at an indoor amusement park. I was supposed to be photographing a ‘Building Relationships with At-Risk Students’ workshop at the Hilton Oak Lawn, being facilitated by my husband, Dr. Don Parker. A Doctor of Education, he’s been in the field 18 years, 12 as an administrator in suburban school districts around Illinois. Because of his desire to impact the youth outside his school district, he created workshops that he conducts throughout Illinois and beyond. I’m normally unable to attend but since Oak Lawn is a stone’s throw from home, I made arrangements to be present.

Just to be certain the girls didn’t feel slighted by our spring break trip starting a day late, I found a one-day youth camp for them at a local park district. Having never been to its location, a drive-by the day before left me confident I wouldn’t be scrambling to find it the next morning.

A pop-up alert on my phone reminded me they also needed a brownbag lunch. Seeing as our cupboards were bare, a grocery store trip was the prelude to packing them. Anticipating the girls would be sluggish come morning, I made sure to do their hair and selected coordinating outfits the night before. My head hit the pillow with assuredness. What went wrong?

Everything!

Camp started at 9 a.m., it was 9:15. Why was the park district parking lot empty? Worried by what I saw, I called inside. “I apologize ma’am, due to low enrollment, camp was canceled today,” said the director of the program. “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

I wish you could have seen how I contorted my face at that news.

We were all dolled up with nowhere to go. I needed an alternative for the kids, especially Rhonda-Rene, who has special needs. I had prepared their minds for a fun-filled-day and I had to deliver. A quick Google search put us on I-294, 45 minutes north, to a recreational arena that had apparently closed. “Notice to vacate,” was what the sign read on the front door.

I suppose the Internet is slow about removing inaccurate content? Note to self, call ahead.

It was 10 a.m. when I turned the steering wheel in the direction of Villa Park, 30 minutes east of our location. We found a nearby Portillo’s and stretched our patience with an extended 90 minute lunch until Safari Land opened at noon. We were the first ones in the door. Having access to all the rides with no waiting would be our consolation prize for the morning’s inconveniences. So I thought.

I pulled out my credit card and paid for two non-refundable or shareable wristbands to which Rhonda-Rene responded, “No!” to every single ride I convincingly requested she board.

I stood in front of that tilt-a-whirl looking into the rafters of their ceiling. At that point even Donae was disheartened. “Unbelievable!” we said, simultaneously.

All that effort to make things right and it all went sideways. Pushing through the interstate traffic got us back home just as Don was coming in. “What happened,” he asked? “Thought you were coming?”

After explaining our National Lampoon’s Vacation of a day, he said, “I’m really proud of you?” Pardon me for being dumbfounded because I didn’t get his feedback at all.

“Huh,” I questioned?

“You’re resilient. With everything that came at you today, you had enough wherewithal to adapt and forge ahead. You were resourceful and you persevered. You embody every quality of resilience, you have the mental ability to recover quickly,” he expounded.  

Don imparted a blessing in my spirit when he told me that. I let it simmer for several minutes thereafter. From his vantage point, I suppose I’d had a successful day after all. I went to bed that evening with a different quote in my head though, “You can plan a perfect picnic but you can’t predict the weather.” Author-unknown.

Don’s Administrators’ Academy workshops “Building Relationships with At-Risk Students”, or “Implementing a Resilience Program for At-Risk Students” can be made available in your school district by contacting him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.