Diana recently visited the South Lawrence East Middle School (SLE), marking the latest stop in her Civic Education Tour to engage and educate students across the Merrimack Valley.
The program, which the Representative has brought to schools in North Andover, Methuen and Haverhill, went over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and, through interactive exercises, was designed to educate students about what it means to be a citizen and how to be active in the democratic process. During the event, students participated in mock legislative and judicial hearings, the latter conducted by Michael J. Ryan of the Office of Jury Commissioner for the Commonwealth.
“The Civic Education Day at the South Lawrence East Middle School was a huge success,” said SLE Principal Alyce Merlino. “The students were part of one of the fundamental processes of American democracy, a jury duty. I want to thank Representative DiZoglio so much for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this most important presentation.”
“This program helps students understand how our government works so that we can be involved in the future,” said student Yanira Cruz.
“Representative DiZoglio believes we, the students of Lawrence, can make a difference,” said student Caroline Mejia. “She came here to our school as a model for our community.”
“We learned that our State Representative is always there for us, which is good, we like to be heard,” said student Yelissa Torres.
“I love how our Representative was born here and understands where we are coming from,” said student Kyara Gonzalez. “We feel more connected to her.”
“I like how Mr. Ryan kept us involved in what he was doing,” said student Lisbeth Burgos. “It was a fun and interesting experience.”
“I was truly honored to be among so many bright and talented students as I spoke about how ideas become laws and involved the students in an interactive mock committee hearing,” said Diana, who has sponsored legislation to establish a comprehensive student civic education program. “I look forward to visiting additional schools in Lawrence and across the Merrimack Valley in the months to come to educate students on how our government works.”
In many of today’s high schools, civic education is often only offered toward the end of a student’s studies, in twelfth grade. On the latest national civics assessment, administered in 2006 by the National Assessment Governing Board, two-thirds of students scored below “proficient.” In 2010, more than a quarter of college students reported they did not register to vote because they did not know where or how to do so.
“Our classrooms all too often lack a strong civic learning program to educate students about what state government does in our daily lives,” said Diana. “It is critical that our youth begin to grasp these concepts to ensure they are able to actively participate in the democratic process as they enter adulthood.”
“It is critical for students to have an understanding of our judicial system early on, given they should be prepared to serve jury duty as soon as high school,” said Ryan.
In addition to the South Lawrence East Middle School, Diana has visited North Andover High School, Methuen High School and Haverhill’s Hunking Middle School on her Civic Education Tour.
The Representative will next take the tour to Lawrence High School in April, the Wetherbee Elementary School in May and plans to visit additional schools in the future as well. She will also host a Distracted Driving Day at Methuen High School later this month.