The Columbus City Schools (CCS) prime focus on Feb. 19 was instilling the ideas of diversity and citizenship in their students.
Dr. Gene Harris, superintendent, gave clarification of what this policy will look like at CCS. It will include students gaining principles such as valuing different types of people and different points of view, showing civic responsibility and participating in the political process.
"It was our students at Columbus Alternative High School that really started the whole movement that is now Youth at the Booth. You remember they were with state representative Joyce Beatty to introduce legislation that would allow high school students to actually work at voting booths. That is the kind of demonstration of understanding and participation in the political process we are talking about," said Harris.
Harris said she also wants this policy to have a positive impact by helping to reduce bullying by getting kids to not just stop harassing each other, but also help them recognize that all their classmates are equally valuable and should be treated with respect.
"It’s really going to be a challenge, but its something that I think this policy really drives us to think about – how it gets done and how to do it ," said Harris.
Board member W. Carlton Weddington expressed his appreciation for this policy and what both current students and CCS alumni have done with it.
"We have a young man in Ohio now working with the Obama campaign that was a Centennial graduate, and he’s doing a great job showing his experience and his talents. I also think we most recently saw the Youth Agenda coming in here to Columbus City Schools and most of us have participated with what Columbus Alternative did with the Anneberg Civic Program," said Weddington.
Executive Director of Student Assistance, Intervention and Outreach, Dr. Elaine Bell, did give one caveat on having this kind of policy.
"If we are truly going to allow students to demonstrate civic responsibility and to demonstrate cultural competence, we have to be prepared for those who support what we believe and those to challenge it," said Bell. "We want them to know that when there are injustices in the law, that they have the right and the privilege to challenge them, so we have to be willing then to allow our students to give their participation. It can’t be just to sanction or rubber stamp what we already thought of."
"Get to School Getaway"
In other board news, throughout this week, CCS is doing a drawing for the "Get to School Getaway" incentive for NBA basketball tickets through the Michael Redd Foundation, Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks, and an organization called Clarity Creative. This is part of the "On Time" promotion that enters CCS students in the drawing if they not only have perfect attendance for 30 days but also are to be on time.
One winning student at each participating school will receive two round trip tickets to Milwaukee (student and one parent), a one-night deluxe hotel stay, VIP pre-game warm-up passes, a VISA gift card for meal expenses, a limousine ride to and from all locations and various other prizes and giveaways.
The schools participating include West High School, South High School, Mifflin and Champion Middle School.
Jeff Warner, District Spokesperson, said the district is very happy with the results.
"The root of it is when students are in school, they stay on top of their homework, on top of coursework, prepared for tests and achieve higher levels. When our students are in school they’re going to perform better. When they’re tardy, they miss materials, they’re absent more frequently when they miss that work and they start a downward spiral," said Warner.
Clarity Creative spokesperson Alonzo Edmondo said they plan to work on similar incentives for CCS in the fall.
"We’re testing the waters, seeing how responsive the community is and we hope the community will galvanize and get behind it. We?’re seeking business partners, so we can give this to two or three students per school rather than one student per school," said Edmondo.
Edmondo said so far the community response on the Web site, beatthebell.com has been very enthusiastic but Edmondo was especially encouraged by Redd’s willingness to give back to his community after he reached his current athletic status.
"It’s rare to find someone who wants to give back to the community. Redd is a West High graduate and went to The OHio State University, he had some pretty big things to do and then to come back home. Here’s somebody that left, came back, and is still making a mark at home," said Edmondo.
Edmondo said the drawing for the NBA tickets at West High School should take place next Tuesday at 1 p.m. but that date and time is subject to change. For more information on Clarity Creative’s Web site go to becreativeview.com.