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Civics Education:  Celebrating Student-led Civics Projects

In January 2022, LWVMA in partnership with local Leagues, initiated an effort to recognize and celebrate the student civics projects that are now a required part of the Grade 8 and High School curriculum. Student-led Civics Projects became a formalized portion of the curriculum through enactment of S2631, An Act to promote and enhance civic engagement.  The League of Women Voters of MA advocated for passage of this law through its partnership with the Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition. This law states that schools are to make available student-led civics projects in Grade 8 and in at least one additional opportunity in Grades 9-12. Most schools are choosing to make this experience available in a required course so that it is accessible to all students. To find information about this League project see the Toolkit here.  

On this page, we have created space to share local League partnerships with schools.  Our approach was to ask Leagues to individualize their support of school civics projects based on the readiness of each school to engage in this work.  Due to the continued duration of COVID disruption, these projects have been delayed at many schools.  Consequently, our Leagues have taken many different approaches in their work with schools.  We are sharing the experience of these Leagues with pictures, video and a brief description. Spring 22 efforts will be added here through June.

Highlights of Partnerships

LWV Needham NHS Civics Showcase

The League of Women Voters of Needham and the Needham High School Social Studies Department co-sponsored Students Advocate for Change, the Needham High School Civics Showcase, on Saturday, June 11 at 2-4 PM at Powers Hall, Needham Town Hall. The Showcase featured 92 Needham High juniors in 47 groups who shared their research, materials, and positions in a science fair type setting. Over 80 attendees engaged the students about their issue areas. 

Watch The Needham Channel News piece about the 2022 Civics Showcase. Thanks to Municipal Producer Yuxiao Yuan and The Needham Channel News for preparing this report.
 
 

LWV Cape Cod Area Celebrates Barnstable High School Civics Day

Barnstable High School organized their first Civics Day for the presentation of student-led civics projects on June 15.  Students from 35 classes and 11 teachers presented their projects displayed throughout the school library from 8 AM to 2 PM.  A ceremony was held from 10:30 to 11 to recognize the achievement of all the students and teachers who participated in these projects, and to feature the work of five students who spoke about their work. As one small part of that celebration, LWVCCA was invited to speak briefly and present certificates of achievement to these five students, and to be distributed later, classroom certificates for each teacher and the sections they taught. To read more, click here

LWV Concord- Carlisle

On June 8, students in grade eight braved a windy day to showcase their civic action projects in tents outside the Concord Middle School.  Their enthusiasm for their topic was abundantly clear in the quality of their display boards and the depth of their conversations with many visitors.  All students in the grade completed civic action projects through a thorough process of research and advocacy.  65 of those students opted to extend their work by participating in the public showcase.  A busy, festive celebration included district administrators, town leaders, League members, and parents who listened to students present their work and posed questions. 

Most striking was the range of actions students took in order to advocate for their cause. For example, one student hosted a Friday film night at school to show movies with positive images of people of color; another group of eighth graders, who focused on women’s rights, put together a presentation for the school faculty; other students organized petition drives, wrote legislators, and conducted surveys. Visitors were quite impressed by the students’ range of topics, their articulate presentation, and their commitment to taking action.

Photo credit: Fred Burnham

League Members Attend Generation Citizen MA Civics Day, June 6 2022

On June 6 several League members attended the Generation Citizen Massachusetts Civics Day, organized for schools that are using the Generation Citizen curriculum model to conduct their student-led civics projects.  Schools from more than a dozen communities attended with over 300 students.  Our League members attended as some of the 100 Community Advisors who volunteered to offer students feedback about their projects as the students think about ways to influence progress in their communities on these important issues of student interest. Participation gave our League members an opportunity to connect with students and to think about supporting showcase civic events in our local communities. Below are pictures of some of the students and our League members who attended.  Thanks to all who attended and especially to LWVMA President Elizabeth Foster-Nolan for participating.

Submitted by Karen Mazza

LWV Sharon-Stoughton 

Civics Education is required in Sharon/Stoughton schools by legislative decree!  S2631 requires schools to implement student-led civics projects in Grade 8 and provide another opportunity in high school. To promote this initiative to the community, Stoughton lead Social Studies teacher, Jaime Regan, worked with the LWV SharonStoughton and Rob Rotella of Stoughton Media Access Corp (SMAC) to produce a half-hour interview with the four teachers utilizing the newly created Lesson Plans.  The show features State Representative Ted Philips, who represents part of Stoughton and all of Sharon, as well.  Questions were created by our LWV with the help of a student member and Sharon Fradkin, moderator of this edition of the Community Forum cable show, asked other questions as they seemed pertinent.  The teachers were impressive and enthusiastic about this curriculum, shared what students had accomplished this year, and shared their plans for next year’s expanded curriculum.  The Community Forum is a “must-watch” show for Stoughton residents and is available to watch here, at lwvss.org, the Stoughtontv.com Video on Demand and their YouTube channel.