RES, WES students learn citizenship
Last week saw the beginning of a program that will focus on civic values, financial literacy, good character and more for some of Russellvile’s youngest American citizens: second and third graders at West and Russellville elementary schools.
Students, teachers, faculty, administrators and sponsors came together to kick off the Super Citizen Program for 2017. The students waved flags and wore Statue of Liberty crowns as they welcomed “Libby Liberty,” a real-life portrayal of the famous iconic statue, to the RCS stage.
Libby Liberty introduced students to the 10-week civic, character, financial literacy and social studies program and shared fun facts and history about the Statue of Liberty.
RES Principal Kristie Ezzell said the program is “a great way to promote citizenship and character education.”
“Since our third graders were involved in the program last year, we felt like this would provide a foundation that will last a lifetime,” Ezzell said. “Our third graders will be involved in the Torch Teams Project, which will provide project-based learning activities to engage the students and get them excited as they participate in various lessons … Our students participating in Torch Teams are exposed to team building, goal setting, money management, community service, campaigning strategies, public speaking, and civic responsibility. It also gives them the opportunity to be introduced to community members and recognize the characteristics of a person that exceeds the call of duty within his or her career path or during volunteer opportunities.”
At the end of the program, students will honor “Super Citizens” as local heroes they have noted as going above and beyond.
“This is a great way to provide life-long lessons about how to be good citizens, and it is a great way to bring communities and schools together,” Ezzell said.
For WES Principal Deanna Hollimon, the program offers similar benefits for her students, in that it “builds good character, promotes patriotism and helps students to understand their civic responsibility.”
“Elementary school is the perfect venue to introduce and reinforce these traits,” Hollimon said.
“The teachers are provided with materials that promote hands-on learning and student engagement. Our teachers love the program because it is presented at a “kid-friendly” level. The lessons also present opportunities for cross-curricular instruction, such as social studies, math, reading and writing.
Like Ezzell, Hollimon is confident about the program based in part on last year’s success. “The feedback we received from parents during the implementation of the programs last year was nothing but positive,” Hollimon said. “Our students were going home and sharing about what they had learned.”
Just as at RES, WES students will honor Super Citizens from the community at the end of the program in April. “I believe that this program has the potential to positively impact the future our next great Americans: our students,” Hollimon said.
Superintendent Heath Grimes also expressed his excitement for the program, which he sees as being beneficial because it “teaches students what it means to be a citizen; the rights and privileges but also the responsibility.”
“I think this is something that we often miss an opportunity to teach,” Grimes said. “I’m thankful that there is a foundation that values this and partners with school districts to take advantage of the opportunities to teach our children about citizenship … The program also teaches students about what our country was founded on and teaches students to have pride in our country, patriotism and financial literacy,” – the latter of which, Grimes said, was also mentioned often by parents and teachers in the school’s strategic planning survey.
And perhaps the best part, depending on who you ask, is that “the program is fully supported financially by several businesses/industries in our community,” Hollimomn emphasized. “We are most appreciative for the support they have given us and the strides that they have taken to invest in America’s future.”
Grimes offered his thanks to the Franklin County Community Alliance, Alfa, CB&S Bank, G&G Steel, Inc., AlaTrade, ScreenTech, BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama, who are sponsoring these important lessons on citizenship.
“I”m thankful there are business partners that believe in it enough to sponsor the program,” Grimes said. “What a great example of the responsibilities of a citizen.”