CHICAGO (CBS) – Walter Jacobson hadn’t been back to his Chicago grade school in more than 60 years. Then he got an invitation.
A group of fourth-graders invited him to learn about the power of positive thinking.
A letter he received asked: “Can you please come to Room 306? We will like to show you something.”
Yes, he could. So, it was off to Swift Elementary School in the Edgewater neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. Jacobson attended fourth grade there in 1947 – 65 years ago.
There, Walter was met by a class of youngsters who wore T-shirts that said “Positive Thinking Matters.” He watched a play and listened to songs they wrote that drove the point home.
Positive thinking “never hurt anybody,” a student named William told Walter.
Walter concedes he doesn’t always think positively in some the “Perspective” pieces he does for CBS 2. But he generally likes to think of himself as a positive person, and the experience going back to Swift was certainly a positive – if nostalgic – trip.
He remembered running up and down the hallways with his friends at the age of 9. He inspected the swimming pool, which at the time was the only pool in a Chicago public school. It was installed, Walter says, to provide a safe alternative to swimming in nearby Lake Michigan.
Today, Swift Elementary is multi-cultural. Kids who attend are from 50 countries and speak 65 languages.
Edgewater is a port of entry for immigrants. On arrival, 40 percent speak no English. But in two to three months, students are on their way to extraordinarily good test scores.