ECC Phi Theta Kappa Officers bring Honors in Action project to Texas

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Published 11/30/2022
ECC Phi Theta Kappa officers Cole Weiler, Beth Barnes, Maggie Garcia, Ely Thompson, Natalie Leon, and Kelly Stoffle

ECC Phi Theta Kappa officers Cole Weiler, Beth Barnes, Maggie Garcia, Ely Thompson, Natalie Leon, and Kelly Stoffle

Six officers from Elgin Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society went to Texas this past October for the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) to complete their Honors in Action course, a research and service-based class. ECC students Beth Barnes, Ely Thompson, Kelly Stoffle, Maggie Garcia, Natalie Leon, and Cole Weiler made the trip.

The group's study topic for their HIA project was the art and science of play, focusing on the nostalgia of play. Their project posed the question, “Why do we stigmatize play, and how can interacting with children invoke nostalgia that encourages a healthy life of positive play?” As a part of their project, the group went to Kirkpatrick Middle School in Fort Worth, TX, to paint murals on the school walls.

“The mural showed the inclusivity of all ethnic backgrounds of students who attended school there,” said Barnes, PTK Rho Chapter president. “This ultimately empowered not only the students but the volunteers because we could help represent that message and image in a bold and beautiful way.” In addition to traveling to Texas, the group also held a Recess Day on campus and attended a Literacy Night at Fox Meadow Elementary in South Elgin, IL, to further focus on the nostalgia of play.

As the last part of their course, the team will write a Hallmark Award Essay on what their HIA project taught them. “What we learned is that is it much easier to “let go” and be playful around younger people. As we get older, play tends to become stigmatized, and it isn’t as easy,” said Thompson. “As the Honors in Action officer, I am very passionate about his project. I want the long-term impact at ECC to be an environment where everyone can experience the power of play.”

In addition to painting murals at Kirkpatrick Middle School, the team attended various informative sessions during their trip. “Working on this project made me feel I was a part of something bigger than myself,” said Barnes. “I feel like I made a difference and am grateful to have been a part of such an amazing group.”

For more information on ECC’s Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, visit