Rifle forms plan for civic education
RIFLE – A group of community members, elected officials, teachers and administrators came away from the last in a series of unique meetings with something of a plan.They hope to encourage a more civic-minded youth by creating a partnership between schools and community.The group, which included high-profile residents like Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert, New Castle Council member Greg Russi and Rifle City Council members Alan Lambert and Sandy Vaccaro, came up with a collection of ideas for achieving their goal.They discussed service learning projects like having students help with activities like Meals on Wheels and shoveling sidewalks for the elderly or handicapped. They also discussed government simulations – having students elect a mock city council or even an ambassador from the high schools to sit on councils.Jill Conrad, the director of the Colorado Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, mediated the meeting. Garfield School District Re-2 played “guinea pig” for the project. It was the first district in the state to take advantage of a grant from the Carnegie Foundation. Conrad will draw up a strategic plan based on the conversations at the last three meetings and present it to the district next month.One of the major concerns at the meeting Feb. 6 was that there is no sense of urgency for the community. Some group members voiced concerns that the community may not be interested in getting involved without a call to action.That was still a concern at Monday night’s meeting.”We can send out paper surveys and ask people if they think there is a problem,” said Theresa Hamilton, Re-2 director of district-wide affairs. “But who isn’t going to say that young people not voting is a problem? The question then becomes, ‘What are you going to do to help?'”Despite the hurdles group members mentioned, they came to a consensus to develop a task force to begin creating bonds between the community and the school in the name of civic education.There was some discussion about how to do it, which Russi seemed to settle in a straight-forward and good-natured way.”I think we’ve processed it enough. It’s here; it’s there,” Russi said, pointing to giant sheets of paper marked with ideas and taped to the walls in the Learning Opportunity Center. “It’s done. Let’s get it going and get these programs in place by September.”
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