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Students Learn Kernel Of Truth About Government

Chatham Elementary School

Chatham Elementary School students had a lesson Thursday in how government works. Their proposal to make sweet corn the official state vegetable passed the state Senate.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 800, Republican Sen. Sam McCann from Carlinville, says not all responses have been positive.

"I had a couple of emails from folks around the state saying that... while the city walls are seemingly crumbling, why are you focusing on something like this?" he said. "And of course the answer couldn't be more clear. We have to invest in the future leaders of our state and our nation."

Though senators overwhelmingly agreed, they asked McCann if that's actually the appropriate label.

"Depending on what your--the framework in which you're viewing corn, it is either a fruit, a vegetable or a grain," McCann said. "It is actually both, depending on whether you're looking at it culinarily or scientifically. If you look at it as a botanist, it's actually a fruit."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes corn as a vegetable, which is why McCann says he settled on that designation.

Chatham, a town outside of Springfield, is the home of an annual sweet corn festival, which is why students chose promoting the vegetable as part of a class project.

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.
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