Simply put, GC works. I look forward to hosting GC with my newest class this year and every year after.
The experience of my middle school students through the Generation Citizen program has been unique in such a wonderful way! Highlander Charter School was the first middle school to participate in this high school-based project. I learned of the project at a social studies conference, approached Scott Warren and without hesitation we both felt the program could be tailored to a younger audience, after all, GC’s mission is “to expand democratic participation among youth populations that have been historically underrepresented or actively excluded from the political process.” Why not reach youth before high school we thought? Highlander is an urban charter school with 272 students in grades K-8 located in the heart of Providence. We pride ourselves on community involvement and participation; therefore GC goes hand-in-hand with our mission and vision.
If we can instill in 7th and 8th graders a sense of urgency and importance in their civic participation, then they will move onto high school as aware and active participants in any democratic process whether it be running for student body or protesting a social issue they feel passionate about. These are students more prone to stay in school—because they feel they are a part of the system and their voices are heard. GC accomplishes this through its lessons, all of which teach, emphasize and engage students in the democratic process. A student that is invested in their community and its issues is more apt to become involved in that community, to return to it, to bring others along on the path to success. GC allows students to voice all the issues—even the ones considered taboo or “too hard to deal with” of their community and to brainstorm and ACT on those issues in an attempt to reach a solution. My 7th grade class decided to advocate for textbooks as they prepared to enter 8th grade and soon high school. They felt this was a tool they needed and needed the skills to use it.
Through GC they researched benefits, prices, publishing companies, reached out to theschool administration, media, legislators and any and all mediums that would hear their issue and help them. Over the summer, the school was able to purchase textbooks usingour students’ data. The look on their faces when returning in September to find textbooks on their desks was priceless.
They learned a valuable life lesson—if you get involved inthe democratic process, invest time and effort, it works. Simply put, GC works. I look forward to hosting GC with my newest class this year and every year after.