Every fall and spring semester Generation Citizen hosts Civics Day, our students’ end-of-semester project showcase. Civics day presents a unique opportunity for students to take pride in their projects, advocate for their issues to a local audience, and collect feedback on their plans from panels of judges.
Check-out the highlights from our Fall 2016 Civics Day below brought to you by Generation Citizen CEO, Scott Warren!
Nathanael Greene Middle School Students in Rhode Island leaving school to head to Civics Day where they will present their project on domestic gun violence legislation.
The Bay Area, December 6: The Bay’s Civics Day highlights included a totally awesome and inspiring student speaker, an 8th grade Armenian immigrant, who talked about how she was the shy kid who never spoke up, and how Generation Citizen taught her to advocate for herself and others. She focused on how she got her class to focus on the issue she cared passionately about (abuse in foster homes). A wide array of interesting and effective student projects, including a class that focused on police brutality by advocating for a permanent memorial for a recent victim of police violence, abuse in foster homes (along with an understanding that California has one of the highest private foster abuse systems in the country) and a class in Oakland that worked on public transit through advocating for a carpool service.
Massachusetts, December 16: All Civics Days are logistically challenging, but Massachusetts was incredibly hard this semester – the main auditorium was under construction, so the team was forced to do two different closing ceremonies and two different judge lunches. Two closing ceremonies meant two Student Change Makers, and both were great! One of the High School Change Makers, though, was a 15-year old who talked about his own experience with parents as addicts, including seeing his father overdose as a 3-year old. His class focused on the opioid issue, and prevention, as a result. He talked about this experience in his speech powerfully, resulting in a standing ovation, and a whole lotta tears.
New York City, December 14: There were 60+ student projects of really high quality. Some favorites (I couldn’t see all of them) were a Staten Island class that focused on a policy regarding heroine abuse in the borough (the class was able to meet with the Borough President the day before Civics Day), a class that focused on nutrition by pushing for a bill to require schools to publicize sanitation grades given out by the City (really great way to tackle school lunches), and a number of classes that focused on police brutality through advocating for very specific bills. Judges were extremely impressed, and one told me the event had restored their faith in democracy.
Rhode Island, December 12: Rhode Island continues to have a very explicit focus on ensuring that students tackle specific laws, and it shows at Civics Day. A 5th grade class (not a typo) took on the issue of civil asset forfeiture (seriously), with one of the students losing a tooth mid-rotation, asking a DC to find a tissue, and getting back into the action. Another class focused on the state of RI passing a bill to ensure a quality education is a basic right for all students. And many focused on pushing to pass a Community Safety Act, in response to issues of police brutality. (For more RI specific highlights check-out this round up of social media from the day via Storify!).