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Seventh Graders Tackle Local, National Issues In Civic Action Projects

Patrick Zanders' seventh grade civics students have worked extremely hard on their civic action projects this year.

Andrew Mouzin

Patrick Zanders' seventh grade civics students worked extremely hard on their civic action projects during the 2017-18 school year. Several students addressed public safety by working toward securing a crosswalk between the school and Hi Hat Coffee, and bike lanes from Loose Park to the Country Club Plaza. Students also addressed issues on the Plaza, including access to public restrooms, security measures and protection for the horses used for the horse-drawn carriages

Additionally, they had the opportunity to connect with legislators, including Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, U.S. Representative for Missouri's 5th congressional district, Kansas City, Mo., councilwoman Jolie Justus and councilman Quinton Lucas, and many groups and individuals associated with their projects.

"This year's projects were undeniably inspired by our current culture," Patrick said. "Emboldened by their sense of civic responsibility, the students did not shy away from setting lofty goals or selecting difficult topics."

Many students tackled issues that were in the national spotlight, including sexual harassment, opioid addiction and counseling, funding for after-school programs, foster care and animal abuse.

"What impressed me most was the way in which they addressed their topics," Patrick said. "They were respectful in their discourse, thorough in their research and articulate in their presentations. They were challenged to create projects that reflected our mission statement, 'Together, cultivating the best in each, for the benefit of all,' and they exceeded my expectations."

Patrick pointed out one particularly impactful project, Art for Sexual Assault, by seventh graders Addison Funk, Sophia Gotham, Stella Linn and Jiya Singh. The students created a social media campaign to give victims of sexual assault a voice, while encouraging them to create pieces of art. The students held an art show in the Kansas City Public Library's Plaza Branch that was attended by dozens of people. 

"Their work was impressive in a couple of ways," Patrick shared. "One, for the young women in the group, they were empowered seeing how they could raise awareness for an important topic in a limited amount of time. As Stella wrote in her self-evaluation, 'I learned how I can make a difference as a 7th grader.'" 

Patrick added, "The project was also stirring for victims of assault who shared their art with the group, some of whom came to the art show. The project inspired me because I have never had a group create such an ambitious project in my years of doing these civic action projects."

Congratulations on creating these outstanding projects, seventh graders!