Seth Lewis


Seth Lewis


Wheaton Students Join Senator Seth Lewis as Committee Considers State Symbol Legislation

With 25 students from the Prairie School of DuPage in the committee room with him to help lobby for his bill, State Senator Seth Lewis (R-Bartlett) received unanimous recommended approval from the Senate’s State Government Committee on Wednesday for legislation that designates the Calvatia Gigantea as the official state mushroom.

As the bill was presented, committee members learned that 174 witness slips in favor of the bill had been properly filed by students, parents, and others in support of Senate Bill 3514.

“I visited with these students at their school in Wheaton several weeks ago, and they told me they wanted Illinois to adopt a new symbol,” said Lewis. “They engaged in a great deal of research, and asked me to file a bill to make the Calvatia Gigantea, or “Gigantic Puffball” the official state mushroom. I filed Senate Bill 3514 on their behalf on February 9.”

Upper Elementary Teacher Erin Hemmer testified before the committee and explained that students compiled research and held a “primary” election that brought the list of mushroom choices down to two, and then the students made campaign signs for their favored choice prior to a “general” election to determine the winner. “They entered this process with wonder and passion,” said Hemmer. “I am very proud of them.”

Upper Elementary student Charlotte DiGangi also testified on the bill and said the idea for a state mushroom came from a question she asked during a classroom discussion on state symbols. “We were talking about all of the different state symbols and I asked if there was a state mushroom,” said DiGangi. “I said we should have a state mushroom and now here we are.”

The Prairie School of DuPage is a private, environmentally-focused school that offers K-8 students a comprehensive, hands-on education.

“This was a priceless lesson in the value of civic engagement and sends a message to these students that even at a young age their voice can be heard and that they can influence change,” added Lewis. “It was an honor to partner with them on this legislation, and look forward to their continued assistance as we bring this bill across the finish line.”

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