With students from the Prairie School of DuPage watching remotely from their classroom in Wheaton, State Senator Seth Lewis (R-Bartlett) gained unanimous Senate approval on Thursday of a state symbol bill they worked on together.

Through Lewis’ Senate Bill 3514, the Calvatia Gigantea, or “Giant Puffball” is officially designated as the state mushroom.

“Since November, all 25 Upper Elementary scholars collected qualitative and quantitative data, surveyed over 100 Illinois stakeholders, and even held a school wide election,” said Prairie School of DuPage Teacher Erin Hemmer. “With the guidance of their two teachers, the change-makers have been working through the process with rigor, integrity, and passion.”

As part of their educational experience, students from the school traveled to Springfield when the bill was heard before the Senate State Government Committee last month. Hemmer and a student testified before the committee. 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 the new state symbol.

The original idea for a mushroom as a state symbol came from a class discussion on the different state symbols in Illinois.

“I met with these bright students earlier this year, and they expressed an interest in having a new state symbol of a mushroom,” said Lewis. “I was impressed with the amount of work they had already done and filed SB 3514 on their behalf in mid-February. The students continued to be involved as the bill was heard in committee, and it was my pleasure to bring it across the finish line in the Senate on Thursday.”

SB 3514 now moves to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Michele Mussman is carrying the bill.

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