The Good Citizen Challenge

It Takes a Village
As we continue to adjust to the new normal of life during a pandemic, it is important to remember that there is still so much good around us. For this Blog entry, I have handed the reins over to Alice Scannell to share some fantastic work that she and a group of students from BFA Fairfax MS have been involved in over the past year.

A group of BFA Fairfax 7th graders stepped up to the Good Citizen Challenge (GCC) last year and continue to find ways to bring what they learned into the broader Fairfax community. The Good Citizen Challenge was an after school non-partisan civics experience throughout the school year that was sponsored by Seven Days and the Vermont Community Foundation. Students completed activities each month that fell into the categories of News Literacy, History, Government and Community Engagement. Elliot Scannell, Emma Foster, Leigh Brown, Kai Von Sitas, and Keller Greene interviewed Representative, Barbara Murphy as well as St. Albans Messenger Journalist, Michael Frett. They wrote thank you notes to emergency service volunteers, discussed national and local issues that were important to them, read books and articles related to civil rights, and completed activities designed to strengthen their understanding of state history. They even had tests for each category!

These 5 students were part of the first 100 students in the state to complete all necessary points in the challenge. Their efforts earned them all a trip to Montpelier to visit in-person with Governor Scott, but unfortunately the pandemic put those plans on hold. While the students are still hoping for time with the Governor, they have continued their civics education by morphing the program into their own Good Citizen Club. Through this club, they have continued to hold video meetings and have planned several community service projects. They baked many sweet treats for local workers who stayed active at the height of the pandemic, created an educational video about masks, and are facilitating a donation drive for the local food shelf.  As they move forward, the hope is to create community service projects that can involve as many students as who want to participate.

Here are (pre-pandemic) photos of the group interviewing the journalist, and one of Kai, Keller and Elliot completing an activity about the names of Vermont towns. One photo shows one batch of treats that went out to community businesses in thanks for their hard work during the pandemic. Below is also the group’s logo which speaks to the value of the voice of all people regardless of age, and the way democracy is influenced by more than just voting. They are an inspiring group and are doing great work!  If you’d like to support the Good Citizens Club’s current project feel free to click here.

Thank you Alice and the students in our Good Citizen Group for learning about, and giving back to, our community, state, country and Democracy.  It is through projects like these that we learn, grow and thrive, even during challenging times.

Justin Brown is the Principal at BFA Fairfax Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jbrownenator

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