Civics Education

Celebrating Student-led Civics Projects​

Thanks to advocacy by the League and many other partners in the Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition, student-led civics projects are now required curriculum for students in eighth grade and high school. LWVMA, in partnership with local Leagues, is working with schools throughout the Commonwealth to recognize and celebrate the students’ civics projects. For more information about this League initiative see the Toolkit.

Highlights of Partnerships

 Massachusetts Department of Elementry and Secondary Education (DESE) State-Wide Civics Project Showcases

Students from 70 schools across the state participated in three regional Civics Project Showcases hosted by DESE in May and June. Across events at Bridgewater State University, the DCU Center in Worcester, and UMass Amherst, students shared 173 civic action projects on topics ranging from teen mental health to food insecurity to gun violence. At each event, students engaged in conversation and feedback with one another and shared their work with volunteer community advisors, including state legislators, educators, leaders of community organizations and others. LWVMA members served as community advisors to the students asking questions and offering feedback based on their own expertise.

Generation Citizen Massachusetts Civics Day

On Monday, May 20, 2024 LWVMA Members and staff attended the Massachusetts Civics Day sponsored by Generation Citizen at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. LWVMA Staff assisted with voter registration at the event and many LWV members served as community advisors. Middle schoolers and high schoolers from across Massachusetts attended the state-level Civics Day to present their projects on topics ranging from school lunches, gun violence, climate change, and more.
 
Prior to the Civics Day,  LWVMA’s Climate Change and Energy Specialist, Launa Zimmaro, shared her knowledge with students at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute who were working on a project about food waste and disposal. The students’ civic project excelled in three stages, securing 1st place in both their school and district competitions. Their victory at the district level earned them a spot in the Generation Citizen state-level showcase.

LWV Acton Area: Hudson Civics Showcase

The Hudson Civics Showcase was a great success with 240 students showing 75 projects ranging from legislative advocacy for changing the Massachusetts State Flag to very local issues such as Recycling in the High School.  LWV Acton Area recruited community organizations to advise students during their research and advocacy work and organized 20 project reviewers to evaluate the projects, provide feedback, and award certificates recognizing their accomplishment. Reviewers included eight  LWV-AA members, Senator Eldridge, and Hudson Community leaders. Many parents and friends were in attendance as well. 

LWV Acton Area: Acton/Boxborough Regional High School Civics Showcase

Over 400 students participated in the Acton/Boxborough Civics Showcase on June 3rd and 4th. Students chose their own topics and delivered digital presentations to teachers, classmates, and community members during the school day. Additionally, students had the option to showcase their projects to their parents and a broader audience after school.

Around 20 LWV Acton Area members volunteered at the event. The volunteers actively listened to the students, engaged in discussions, and awarded certificates of excellence in advocacy.

LWV Cape Cod Area Attends Showcases in Barnstable, Dennis-Yarmouth, and Sandwich

The LWVCCA role in supporting civics projects on the Cape has been to serve as community advisors discussing projects with students at their showcase events.  We also support schools with resource documents that we have produced.  The first is the Cape Cod Civics Resource Directory for Student-Led Civics Projects and this year we produced The Cape Cod Civic Advocacy Guide: Understanding Your Government and How to Influence It, modeled after the original advocacy guide produced by the Needham League.  We do not organize civics showcases for the schools, but attend as community advisors for schools that hold showcases. As we are a regional League, we are contemplating organizing a regional event next year that will allow students across school districts on the Cape to share their projects with regional experts and elected officials. You can read more about our work with three schools here

LWV Central Berkshire County: Pittsfield Herbert and Reid Middle Schools Civics Showcase

The LWV Central Berkshire County chapter attended the first Civics Showcase for the Pittsfield Herbert and Reid Middle Schools. The students’ projects were transported to the Hancock Shaker Village under a large tent for the day. LWVCBC provided two printed signs announcing the Showcase. Parents, teachers and two members of the LWVCBC Board attended. Pizza was served and everyone had a great time. 
 

LWV Falmouth: High School Civics Projects

The LWV Falmouth  continues to showcase the sophomore civics projects using classroom presentations, often attended by one or two of LWVF members.  The classroom model works well for both teachers and students, keeping within the framework of the class schedule.  This year LWVF reached beyond their Civics Committee and, as a result, both Civics Committee members and other Falmouth League members took advantage of this opportunity to attend classroom presentations.  The students appreciate the League’s interest, and  attending members enjoy seeing the presentations. 

LWV Needham: Needham High School 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 8, 2024 at Powers Hall, Needham Town Hall.

There were 110 students in 46 groups presenting their civics projects to 40 Community Advisors and another 40 community attendees. View a 3-minute slideshow of the event below. 

LWV Marblehead: Veterans Middle School Civics Fair

LWV Marblehead participated in the Veterans Middle School 8th grade Civics Fair on June 13, 2024, part of the Marblehead Public Schools. Over 60 projects were set up in the school gym, where LWV Marblehead members served as Community Judges for the projects.  Several members of the League had attended the fair a year ago, as observers. Last fall, the Marblehead League generated a Student Advocacy Guide and Appendix based on the LWV Needham model, which was available  on the Marblehead League website and Facebook page. The Marblehead League chose to use their participation in the Civics Fair to honor the memory of League member Judy Jacobi, who served on the Veterans School Council for 15 years, was a teacher and Select person, and passed away during COVID 19.

LWV Sharon/Stoughton: Sharon Middle School Civics Showcase

LWV Sharon/Stoughton volunteered at the Sharon Middle School 8th grade Civic Showcase on Friday, May 3, 2024.  The social studies teachers invited the LWVSS board and local elected officials to explore the presentations with the students. State Senator Paul Feeney, State representative Ted Philips, and Sharon Select Board Hanna Switlekowski attended along with Sharon town personnel. LWVSS Co-Presidents, Robin Zoll and Joanne Blatte also attended. View photos from the day on Facebook here