Lakeland project does good

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which killed 17 students and teachers, has resonated across the country, and it was no different at Lakeland High School.

Students at Lakeland identified with the victims. Lakeland, after all, isn’t that much different. It’s in a different state and is much smaller than Stoneman Douglas, but high schoolers everywhere have much the same hopes and dreams for their future. They hope to change the world. They hope to make a difference. They dream about leaving this earth a better place than they found it.

Lakeland’s government classes, taught by Gail Barker, have embarked on a project that they hope will do all of those things.

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

The conversation started during a current events discussion in class, Barker told the News-Herald Monday, and it evolved from there. Encouraging active citizenship, Barker led her students through discussions about how the students could effect change.

The students are currently working on letters and cards for the Florida school and victims’ families, which will teach the students to empathize with others who are suffering and will be a measure of comfort for those grieving, though it is incomparable to the magnitude of their loss.

For long-term change, however, the students plan to write letters to political representatives and other stakeholders who can change policy surrounding issues of importance to the school safety debate, including gun control, mental health care, school security and more.

As a government teacher, Barker is hitting the nail on the head. Participation in government in today’s world requires more than just going to vote every once in a while and filling in the bubble beside the R or the D while paying little mind to the actual candidates.

Active citizenship means, in part, making your voice heard, whether it is at the City Council meeting or by writing to your congressional representatives. Students should be taught at an early age how to speak up for what they believe in.

Barker and her students are an example of excellent teaching and active citizenship done right.