‘Project Citizens’ presentation to Board of Education results in policy update
CASTLE ROCK – At the Board of Education meeting held on September 3, five Castle View High School (CVHS) students laid out their plan to invite more foreign exchange students into all DCSD schools, and further the goal of a global education.
As a result of this powerful presentation, the Board members voted to approve a modification to section 10 of the JECBA student policy. Instead of the district-wide ratio of 1 foreign exchange student per 300 domestic students, principals now have the discretion to lift that restriction based on available resources.
Assistant Superintendent Dan McMinimee offered congratulations to the five students, Social Studies Teacher Christina Classen and Language Arts Teacher Michael Schneider for their dedication and work leading to the policy revision.
“I want you guys to know you really left a mark on our district, and that’s something you should be really proud of,” he said.
That mark did not come about easily, however. It began last spring, when Classen and Schneider devised an assignment aimed at inspiring their students to make a difference in their school and the community.
“We had two goals for this project,” explained Schneider. “One was to examine how government works and the role of the citizen at a local structure, and the other was to develop empathy; to have these students identify with those that may not have everything that they have, to make a policy that can even the playing field.”
The project was originally tailored to align with “Project Citizen,” a showcase held at the Colorado State Capitol that gives youth an opportunity to participate in the public policy process.
Students in Classen and Schneider’s humanities class worked for 5 weeks to propose a piece of legislation that benefitted a disenfranchised group.
Then, the students invited local community members and policy makers to the CVHS community night, where they could make their proposals—science fair style—and practice professional communication. It was there that Classen and Schneider were approached and asked to bring their students to showcase their ideas at the actual Colorado “Project Citizen” event.
“We couldn’t believe it,” Classen remarked. “So we got the bus together and decided to bring two groups of students: one to present and the other to be an audience. It was pretty amazing because the public ended up rating our kids as the top two presentations of the night.”
Classen and Schneider were thrilled with what their student’s had achieved through the project, but some of them decided to take it a step further.
Fast forward to the next calendar year, and those same students, now juniors, presented their proposal to the DCSD Board of Education, and asked for a change in the foreign exchange student policy.
“I just continue to be amazed and I’m totally blown away at the students passion,” said Classen. “Every time they get up in front of the school board I just get all choked up because I’m like ‘my gosh these are my kids.’ They put in the work, they have the passion, and it’s just so inspiring.”
After seeing the success and ambition of last years’ bright minds, Classen and Schneider plan to continue to work curriculum around real world problems.
“I think for us teachers, it reinforces and illustrates the power of authentic learning for the kids,” Schneider said. “We don’t give them fake problems; this was a true, real world problem that they identified, they researched, and they attempted to solve. And then, because they owned it from beginning to end, there were some students who very much wanted to continue their work beyond the due date of the project.”
Follow this link to view the presentation given to the Board of Education.