Middle School Civil Action Projects

Posted: May 22, 2017

Middle school students in Dan O’Connell and Patrick Zanders’ seventh grade social studies classes created several civil action projects this year.

Patrick Zanders’ Class
Patrick’s classes worked this year on projects that identified issues in the community.

They researched and contacted stakeholders and devised actionable plans to address the problems. They then presented their projects to classmates. “I designed the course to be a practicum, where students learn about the foundations of civics in the first part of the year, which leads to a supervised application of learned material as a final major project,” Patrick said. “This year, we had 18 projects carried out by students in our class.”

Projects included:

  • A group met with City Councilwoman Alissia Canady to discuss a dangerous intersection on Ward Parkway. Their project led to the removal of a tree at the intersection to assist drivers.
  • Another group met with Councilman Kevin McManus to discuss the addition of a bike lane around the Brookside Shops.
  • One group met with two Kansas state elected officials, Sen. Barbara Bollier and Rep. Melissa Rooker, to urge their support of the National Endowment for the Arts. The group also led a public art activity at the Kemper Art Museum.
  • A group created a 20-minute documentary on homelessness in Kansas City. Click here to see the video. The students received a proclamation from the City of Kansas City, Mo., city council at their meeting May 18.
  • Another group created signs to put at the Westwood Shops to encourage skateboarders to move to the nearest skate park. They were recently featured in the Shawnee Mission Post.

“These are just a sampling of the amazing work the students did,” Patrick said. “As a PHS first year middle school teacher, I was unsure of how my projects would translate. In reality, these seventh graders met, and in many cases exceeded, my expectations.”

Dan O’Connell’s class
For three years, seventh grade students in civics have had the chance to perform a play about the founding of the Shawnee Indian Mission in Fairway as a fundraiser for the historical preservation of the site. This year, however, the students proposed another project. The director of the Mission, Jennifer Laughlin, shared that the Mission could use a self-guided brochure or audio tour to assist visitors as they visit their facilities.

Students toured the Mission twice to learn key facts to use as they developed the narration for a brochure. They reviewed displays and wall graphics and received an old audio script. They returned to the Mission to review what they had prepared and adjust their narration.

“We learned about history, from a century ago, that happened right near us,” said seventh grader Ivyer Qu.

Classmate Tate Angrist said, “It’s cool that our voices will be heard, and our work seen in a public museum.”

Jennifer said the project will help the Mission provide multiple guide options for visitors of all ages, dependent upon their needs as well as something tangible to read and hold while visiting the site. “I am excited about the project, the service of the Pembroke Hill students to the Mission and the possibilities of utilizing the guides in the future!” she said.

Last Updated: May 24, 2017