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Burke becomes ‘Principal for the Day’ at Conrady

Pictured (from left) are Conrady Junior High School principal Andy Andersstate Rep. Kelly Burke (D- Evergreen Park) North Palos School

Pictured (from left) are Conrady Junior High School principal Andy Anderson, state Rep. Kelly Burke (D- Evergreen Park) and North Palos School District 117 Supt. Jeannie Stachowiak. | Supplied Photo

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Updated: January 10, 2013 6:02AM



It’s just after 7:30 on a recent Tuesday morning, and Kelly Burke ambles through the front doors of Conrady Junior High School in Hickory Hills.

The freshman state representative from Evergreen Park is here to serve as Principal for the Day, or for half the day, as it turns out.

The first person she encounters is the affable Andy Anderson, the real Conrady principal, who hands her his keys and walkie-talkie and tells her in jest, “See you at noon.”

“OK,” Burke quips, not missing a beat. “Classes are cancelled for the day.”

Burke, whose 36th House District includes all or parts of Hickory Hills and Palos Hills, is taking part in a program sponsored by the Illinois Principals Association that encourages all members to reach out to their local legislators.

In a briefing that begins shortly after arriving, Burke peppers Anderson with questions about some of the major challenges he faces as building principal as well as specific administrative duties.

Then it’s off to tour the building. One of the first stops is a custodial storage closet that now serves as a reading enrichment classroom.

Burke questions the need for additional space.

“Enrollment definitely has increased,” Anderson explains. “But programming today is totally different than it was 15 years ago. There is a very real need for space here at this school.”

They tour the music room, the media center and the cafeteria, where Burke places her order for a Julienne salad that she will eat later in the day during her lunch with some students.

Then it’s back to the main office where she joins students Olivia Waight and Nora Atallah in reading the day’s announcements and leads the student body in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

She conducts a couple of brief meetings with students in Grant Griffith and Frank Mateja’s history classes, who ask Burke about serving on committees and the formula for passing a bill.

Burke told students that years can pass before a bill becomes a law.

“So stick with it and don’t get discouraged,” she told the students, who are drafting their own amendments to the constitution for a class assignment.

Burke, an attorney by profession, also sat in on a classroom evaluation, welcomed a new student and attended a planning meeting with teachers.

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