Citizenship starts early for students |

Citizenship starts early for students

For a group of Basalt High School students, what started out as a class activity grew into a plan to change the world – or at least the lunchroom. Two students’ groups used computerized slideshows, research and signed petitions in a presentation to the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 board of education this week. One group urged the board to help curb teen drinking by turning the Red Brick building at Basalt High School into a teen center. The other group pushed for changes to the school’s lunch menu, which they said could increase student achievement.Earlier in the week, BHS students went before the Basalt Town Council and proposed tougher penalties for teen smokers. Thursday night, 10 groups went before a panel of county, state and federal officials to request new action on the Roan Plateau, undocumented immigrants and stem cell research. The flurry of activism from BHS students began with Project Citizen, a program American democracy teacher Ben Baumfalk runs. Project Citizen “helps students learn the basic skills they need to participate in our country’s government,” Baumfalk said. For the project, students pick and research a problem, analyze different policies or proposals, come up with a policy of their own, and present it to government officials, urging specific action. Baumfalk required the groups to present to the school board, but “now we’re really into it,” said Nicolas Del Papa, who worked on the school lunch program. “After studying and working, students expect to have something to fill them up,” he said. Del Papa and the rest of his group would like to start a pilot program at BHS that would get rid of a la carte items and items from the menu, which they said were unhealthy.”We really want to do it,” Del Papa said.

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