Putnam County Rotary wraps up inspirational bulletin board project

The organization created a monthly bulletin board to inspire ideas and discussions

Rotarians Mike Olson and Brenda Bickerman display the final monthly"life lessons" bulletin board on display at Putnam County Junior High School in McNabb. Mr. Olson is Principal and Interact Club faculty advisor, and Ms. Bickerman is the Rotary's liaison to the Interact Club that is sponsored by Putnam County Rotary. The bulletin board project was honored at Rotary's District Conference in Moline last Sunday for its innovative and interactive approach in teaching students self worth and encouraging their full potential.

The 2021-22 Putnam County Rotary grant was a bulletin board project at Putnam County Junior High. The idea came from the book “What Do You Do With An Idea,” which was given to every eighth grade student at the beginning of the school year.

The book is a story for anyone who has ever had an idea that seemed too big, too odd or too hard. The hope of the Rotarians was the topic of each bulletin board would create ideas, discussion and dialog among students, teachers and families.

The seven bulletin boards each offered a different life lesson or idea to get students thinking and talking and to hopefully bring the topic home to create discussion with their families.

From kindness, to anti-bullying, to gratitude, mentoring, responsibility, autism awareness, reaching for the stars and a final board of the fingerprints of every eighth grade graduate, the project was intended to teach life lessons, as well as the Rotary’s core values of personal worth and the benefit of service and understanding.

After a new board went up each month, Principal Mike Olson chose eighth grade students to write a short essay about what the idea of the month meant to them that was published in the Putnam County Record along with a picture of the board and the chosen students.

Rotarians reported they heard from students, teachers and family members that each board was talked about and the boards produced lively discussions at school and home.

Project chair Debbie Buffington said that since preschool the eighth grade class has grown in confidence, motivation, maturity and courage.

The book chosen for the project, “What Do You Do With An Idea,” was to help give a little push to act on ideas the students may have in the future.

The Rotary believes an idea from an eighth grader may change the world one day.

Buffington said the Rotary began from the idea of a man from Chicago, Paul Harris. He sat down with four of his friends to discuss the idea of starting an organization to make the world a better place. Rotary was created from that lunch discussion on Feb. 23, 1905. In 117 years, Rotary has grown into an international organization of more than 1.4 million members in 15,000 clubs from 145 countries. For more than a century. Rotary has attempted to bridge cultures and connect continents. The organization has worked toward peace, fought illiteracy, hunger and poverty and helped people get access to clean, safe water and sanitation.

The latest cause of the Rotary is to protect the planet and its resources. The Rotary believes a single idea can change everything, and you can change the world with an idea.

“Ideas have unhinged the gates of empires,” Harris once said. Rotarians hope this project has opened PCJH graduates’ minds to do something that changes not just Putnam County, but the world.