Central High School took top honors in the Generation Citizen Civics Day as the overall highest- ranked high school while the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex won the award for grassroots change.
Projects ranging from affordable housing, the environment, and community and student safety won awards for Providence Schools during the annual event. Generation Citizen is an action-based civic education program that is working to engage young people in their communities. Through the program, middle and high school students work to identify and solve local problems by engaging their leaders and attending Civics Day to present the results of their project.
For their project focusing on homelessness in Providence, Mike Giles’ ninth-grade world history class at Central demonstrated their support for passage of the certificate of habitability ordinance before the Providence City Council. They met with the Providence Housing Authority, the City Council and the city’s legal advisors; provided video testimony of students impacted by unsafe housing; wrote letters and made phone calls.
They competed with 29 other classes from Rhode Island schools to win this honor. As a result of their award, an anonymous donor will fund two more sections of Generation Citizen at Central for the next semester.
The Grassroots Change Award went to the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex for their “Ban the Bag” legislation project. The senior research seminar students, under the direction of their teacher Shannon Gormley, worked to ensure that legislation to ban plastic bags in Rhode Island box stores was reintroduced in the spring. The students hope this action would lead to a cleaner and more sustainable world. Senior Carlos Mendez designed reusable shopping bags for the project.
The Collaboration and Diversity Award went the ninth grade world history class at E-Cubed Academy for their project designed to reduce litter on Branch Avenue. Students realized that littering activity on Branch Avenue was due to a lack of trash cans. Under the direction of their teacher Robert Andrade, the class worked with Councilman David Salvatore to allocate city funding and staff to place and service new trash cans around bus stops and high traffic areas surrounding their school.
A project by eighth-grade current events students at Roger Williams Middle School to reinstate Providence’s Gun Buy Back Day, a previously privately funded event, won the Action Award. Under the direction of Dina Cappalli, the class worked with the Providence Police Department to bring back the event in order to reduce gun crime in their neighborhoods.
Kaleen O’Leary’s sixth-grade publications class at DelSesto Middle School won the Open-Mindedness Award for their project to provide transportation options for after-school programs. The students worked with Family Service of RI and the Providence School Department to introduce the Walking School Bus Model in order to provide safe opportunities for students to participate in after-school programming.
More than 150 students from Providence, Central Falls, Cumberland, Pawtucket, Lincoln and Newport attended this year’s Generation Citizen at the Rhode Island State House. Nathan Bishop Middle School and Alvarez High School also participated.
Doris De Los Santos, executive director of partnership, development and community engagement, served as a judge for this year’s competition and provided the students with feedback on their projects. Other judges included Commissioner of Education Deborah A. Gist, State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.