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Project Citizen gives students taste of democracy

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colo. Roaring Fork High School students get a chance to participate in democracy Wednesday night.They’ll pitch policy ideas they’ve developed to the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 Board of Education as part of a school program called “Project Citizen.” The hope is to get them involved and to learn something about participating in government and public policy. One goal is for students to develop a commitment to active citizenship, RFHS teacher Hal Templeton said.”It’s seeing a way to be involved,” he said. “It’s not a dry old textbook.”Students William Grandbois, Torrey Udall, Alex Heinig and Dietrich Minor have some ideas for the district’s suspension policy. Many students who get suspended are less likely to graduate, according to these four. It would be good address the underlying issues and offer things like study halls or mentoring programs instead of merely kicking students out of school.Justin Marshall, Travis Hawkins, Max Frank and Troy Fisher realize how much their high school careers build up to tests like the ACT. They’ll propose increasing test preparation. The four would like to see teachers spend a few minutes at the start of each class with questions geared towards that end. It could be provided in the classroom without forcing students to pay for expensive SAT or ACT classes.Abbi Lane, Lucas Pulver and Peter Robinson will propose implementing a career day at RFHS each year. This year was the first year a career day was held.Templeton said the school board has been “great” in participating and that Brad Zeigel already interviewed with some students while they were developing their proposals.”They listen to the kids and try to give them constructive criticism,” he said. “They really ask them the questions of how they can get the policy to go through.”Project Citizen began about four years ago. Templeton said Basalt High School teacher Ben Bohmfalk introduced him to it two years ago. Leading up to the ideas for proposals, students study and discuss historical perspectives on the U.S. Constitution.About 14 students from Templeton’s fundamentals of American democracy class, “We the People,” will make their proposals beginning at 6 p.m. at the district office near Glenwood Springs High School. Basalt High School students made proposals at a recent school board meeting.Other groups will try to zing more ideas by the Carbondale Town Board of Trustees on June 5 at 6 p.m.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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