Help Burr Ridge Prep Students Choose Dolostone as Illinois State Rock

You can thank the fifth graders at Pleasantdale Middle School for making sure Illinois has an official state rock. You can also thank them for making sure that coal is not chosen for the rocks of the said country.

Yes, coal was on, according to now sixth grader Mate Nonov.

“One of our main reasons for dropping coals is that you get coals at Christmas when you’re not good,” he said realistically.

Former Pleasantdale School students Jennifer Luerman sat in the school’s music room recently, recalling their advocacy efforts to get a bill on Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk to name the state’s rock, a goal they had achieved as a group during the pandemic. Young people are now waiting for Pritzker’s signature to make Dolluston the official rock of Illinois.

One of the most common rocks in Illinois, Dolostone provides valuable nutrients to the soil. It is also a great building resource and includes most of the primary rocks of northern Illinois. According to Taleb’s research, the dolostone was the cause of the great mineral eruption in Galena, Illinois, in the early 19th century, the site of one of the country’s first large geological expeditions.

What started as a geology unit in Luhrmann’s 5th grade science class grew into a movement of sorts that extended to the entire Burr Ridge School, other school districts, geology professors, gem clubs, rock enthusiasts/collectors and geologists. And to think that it all started years ago, when Lauermann said she had students who wanted to name a state spider. But that faded away.

“It was because of that group years ago, it really made me look at our state symbols,” Lauermann said. Then during the 2020-21 school year, fifth graders started talking about tokens and discovered that Illinois had no rock.

This prompted the group of 26 students to think and research. During their work, the group met people working in the field and sent emails to local geologists. Lauermann said the students welcomed their input because they did not want to choose the rock without expert advice. Lauermann said the selected rocks should represent Illinois, which means they are “easy to find in Illinois. Many people use it,” said student Stefan Nikolic. The class started with 10 rocks, and eventually they got to the last three—limestone, and dolostone. , sandstone.

The pupils then divided into three groups representing each rock, and made a case for each group. The campaign was fierce. Lauermann created a website for the school’s endeavours, containing details about each rock and ballot for voting. Students tell their parents, parents tell friends etc. Lauerman said the young men wrote 150 letters to state legislators to engage any of them in lobbying for state rock. Nunov said the process of writing, printing, folding and stuffing envelopes took some of the fifth graders’ vacation time.

Banners have been placed throughout the school urging school staff and students to vote. With a state bird, insect, food, minerals, and dance, how can Illinois not have a state rock? While Dolluston was the smallest group, Luhrmann said, Douluston won more than 1,300 votes (more than 50% of the vote) from countless Illinois locations, including Chicago, Kenilworth, Rockford, Galena and Carbondale.

“We got to about 400 schools in total,” Luhrmann said. “The website had really colorful pictures and an article to read. I don’t really know all the reasons people voted dolostone, but a lot of them said they liked what it looked like. They liked it being under us, part of our rock. And I remember people saying They loved dolostone because it’s in a lot of buildings. It’s very historic. It’s not a rock we see everywhere. But it definitely represents Illinois.”

U.S. Representative Sean Kasten of Downers Grove heard about Project Rocks and brought it to the House floor.

“We’ve been told that once he’s signed, we’ll all know and celebrate that they’re part of history,” Lauermann said. “They’ll have that memory and so will I.”

Lauermann said the students have already been recognized by the school board and when state rock is official, she said the district principal wants to make a monument or rock painting. Luhrmann added that parents have already expressed their gratitude for the project, which helps raise children during the pandemic.

Pleasantdale School Principal Griffin Sontag said the 19-year-old Pleasantdale teacher made lemonade from lemons.

“This is the kind of teacher we have here. She is one of the best,” he said, adding, “It is wonderful for the children to see the fruits of their labor.”

Luhrmann agreed.

“It was all about research and diligence,” Luermann said. “You should have had a group of kids who really wanted something… If they didn’t want it, it wouldn’t happen. This was a group of students who were very hardworking and really interested in their motives and they wanted this to work.”

Go on an adventure in Lauermann’s class and you can see her growing collection of boulders on the wall. Current and former students often find and give her one-of-a-kind rocks – an arrowhead that looks like it was carved out of charcoal, a Tasmanian crystal and natural copper all sitting on her wall.

Before the sixth graders left for their current science class, and looked at tornadoes by leaf blowers, they were asked if they were science enthusiasts. Everyone said, not so much, including Jackson Hoebaker. But all the students agreed that Lauermann makes fun of science.

“Every year you try to sow a few seeds or take care of these kids,” Lauermann said. “And in the last year, we struggled. We came up with some innovative things in the school that tried to reach the kids, and that’s what it was.”

Curious about other country symbols?:

  • Penicillium rubens NRRL 1951 became the official state microbe of Illinois in January 2022.
  • The Illinois General Assembly designated fluorite as the state mineral in 1965.
  • The former governor, Rod Blagojevich, made popcorn as the official state snack in 2003.
  • Named after paleontologist Francis Tully, the tully monster was named the state’s official fossil in 1989. According to a paleontologist, the tully monster looks like a worm, mollusks, arthropods, and just as fish.
  • Former Governor Bruce Rohner signed the canoe, a type of canoe, into law as the state’s official instrument.
  • Official country pie: Pumpkin, as of 2015.
  • Both the state’s official amphibian, the eastern tiger salamander, and the state’s official reptile, the painted turtle, were both signed in 2005, effective in 2006.

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