HOISINGTON — Ashley Schultz teaches Government and History at Hoisington High School. Seniors in her Government class hosted the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce for coffee on Thursday morning, April 26, in the school’s cafeteria.
Throughout the month of April, students took part in a project developed by the Center for Civic Education called “Project Citizen,” which focused on solving local community issues, Schultz said.
“I’m blown away by this year’s projects, and I’ve told them that a couple of times,” she told coffee goers.
Students looked at problems the community is currently trying to solve, and also examined what other communities have done to solve similar issues. They determined solutions, and researched and reported who they would need to talk to in order to follow through with their plans.
“Many of them spent the last month doing a lot of research,” Schultz said. “They were also tasked with finding out how much their solutions would cost, and where the money would come from.”
A science fair format allowed the seniors to show off what they have been doing for the past month, as well as how much they care and want the community to continue to do well even as many of them are heading off towards college.
Issues ranged from blighted housing to drugs and crime to potholes and road maintenance, combating obesity and creating and managing community gardens, as well as many options for increasing the economic vibrancy of Main Street. Members of the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce were invited to browse the tables and ask questions. Seniors were prepared to share their findings and answer questions.
This is the second year Schultz has assigned this project to her students. Because they get to pick out their own issue, rather than having it assigned, the students have taken ownership of their solutions, Schultz said.
“It’s a little more near and dear to their hearts than if I had simply assigned them something,” she said.
Students in her class focus on the federal government early on. Schultz saves state local government for the last semester, as it becomes more relevant to students as they near graduation.
“ It’s’ important for them to know what a city council is and what it does, and what the taxes they pay go towards,” Schultz said. “They are all going to be part of a community someday, so getting them to understand that sometimes projects take time helps them to be better citizens.”