MORRIS – Saratoga Elementary School fourth-grade student Jaxon Claypool opened his highlighter and colored in his Bingo square.
The next clue was called and he looked around the board anxiously because he only had one more square to go and it was now his turn to yell the word “bingo!”
He was the first winner of Conservation Bingo on Monday during a special fourth grade-only event.
“J.R. Hock from Grundy Bank called and was looking at getting into a school for a special energy and conservation event. I thought it was a great way for the kids to hear from an outside source on a topic we talk about in the classrooms,” Saratoga Principal Joe Zweeres said.
Grundy Bank commercial banking officer J.R. Hock said the idea to branch out from financial literacy classes stemmed from the American Bankers Association Take Your Lawmaker to Work Week event.
She said she wanted to put a different spin on the idea.
Monday morning, 88 fourth-grade students made the trek from their classrooms to the gym for a visit from Illinois’ 16th District U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, to hear about ways to conserve energy and how to reduce waste in landfills. They learned through a game of Bingo. Kinzinger, who has been in Congress since 2011, sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“I wanted to talk to the kids today to get them to think in terms of saving water and gas. It also shows them how to save mom and dad some money, so it’s good for everybody involved,” Kinzinger said.
Grundy Bank President and CEO Kevin Olson handed out Bingo papers and small yellow highlighters to all of the children in the bleachers, and Hock asked the children questions about the environment and Congress before she introduced Kinzinger to the students and teachers.
Kinzinger asked the students questions about what they knew about Congress. He called on the students by T-shirt name and asked that they can call him “jacket guy.”
“I am your congressman and I go to Washington, D.C. When you are older, you can write me letters or call me and tell me how you want me to vote on certain topics,” Kinzinger said. “In D.C., one of the things we do is to try to figure out how to save energy and help the environment.”
Each student had a Bingo sheet with good or bad conservation habits, and as Kinzinger asked them questions, they found the best answer on their board and colored in their answer.
There were two winners, Claypool and Emma Johnson. Both received a Grundy Bank piggy bank and a picture with Kinzinger.
Fourth-grade teacher Terri Kelly said the visit fit into the curriculum because the students just learned about the three branches of government.
“This is so exciting. We have talked about writing our congressman about issues, so today’s event will create a good discussion when we get back to the classroom,” Kelly said.
Claypool said this was a good day all around because he had never won at Bingo or met a congressman.
“I thought a congressman would be serious, but he was funny and made jokes. He never acted serious while he was here today, but maybe he has to act serious at his job,” Claypool said.
After the game and discussion about conservation, Hock had the students form a line and Kinzinger signed each student’s bingo paper while he asked them their name, favorite subject and so on.
“This is a great out-of-the-classroom experience for the kids. They may not know exactly what a congressman does, but they know he is an important part of the government and that makes a good connection,” Zweeres said.