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WJBD - Local News - Centralia School Students Address Legislators During Press Conference

Centralia Jr High Student Ashley Taylor.

Centralia High Student Abby Henegar.

Centralia School Students Address Legislators During Press Conference

By Will Doolin, WJBD News

Several Centralia High School students and Junior High students traveled to Springfield Wednesday to attend the press conference regarding the closing of Murray Center and state facilities.  About 100 to 150 students attended the conference followed by a tour of the Capitol building.  

Centralia Junior High Student Ashley Taylor spoke during the conference, saying she testified at the COGFA hearing held in Centralia in April and was excited that the COGFA committee recommended that Murray Center stay open.  However she stated that they cannot understand how someone can have so much power and that Governor Pat Quinn's opinion can override so much time and work with the hearing process and says that there is something wrong with that system.  

“I have two favors to ask for my birthday which was Tuesday.  One is for the governor to acknowledge that we do care for the residents and to deam us worthy of being called a community.  We are there for them and will continue to be up for the challenge.  The second is for this government what my parents do when they don't want me to do something - no allowance.  If you vote in agreement that it is in the best interest to keep it open.  Support to eliminate the allowance that lets people be considered for movement.  The mandates were to allow a choice to make people happy and instead people are becoming miserable with the thought of these closures”, said Taylor.  

Centralia High Student Abby Henegar also spoke saying the residents of Murray Center is what makes Centralia what it is.  She says the closure would not only affect the area economically, but could affect the identity of what Centralia is and what they stand for.

She says that she hopes her message got across to everyone.  “For us as a younger generation, we hope to one day see where profit is not in place over people, that the care of people is always going to be a priority and that should be the priority.  It's interesting for us because we feel that when we're leading that's how we will lead and it upsets us when we see leaders that we look up to that don't have the same views as we do”, said Henegar.  Henegar says they cannot stop to protect everyone in their community and to stop the closure of Murray Center.

Superintendent Chuck Lane says the conference went very well and was impressed by the number of state legislators that were in attendance and that spoke at the conference.  He states he was very impressed by his students and that they were excited to be here.

“I really hope that being here makes a difference.  They can't understand why the governor is doing the things that he's doing right now to our community.  They want answers and it's a good dose of reality for them on the way politics works.  We're hoping that because of our efforts and the efforts of the coalition that the governor will take a second look at all this”, said Lane.   

He hopes that their students' beliefs are reinforced and that they do take care of people and just what's best for a profit margin.  He also hopes his students take away that there is strength in numbers and that it does make a difference when you get involved.

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