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Fallon Middle School Students Get Hands on with Social Good at Civics Action Fair

May 30, 2017

by Sriya Sadhu, 8th grade, Fallon Middle School

DUBLIN, CA–I still vividly remember, worrying about how I was going to complete such a large project – all the while trying to keep my attention on other priorities as well. I remember contemplating the entire purpose of the Civic Action Project (CAP), for my American History class, wondering if it would really help us in the end.

Needless to say, I’ve come to enjoy every second of it.

The day dawned, and soon enough it was May 19th, the Fallon Middle School Civics Action Fair, where we all got to put our work on display boards. It was that day that I realized how much of an impact CAP had on us as students.

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This project team poses with Frank Castro, Director of Food Services at Dublin Unified School District. They want to make sure students are able to have class parties with food of their choice and not be limited by overly-restrictive nutrition requirements. Pictured left from right: Darlena Tran, Lipi Buch, Sarah Bray, Elianna Flora, Aishwarya Moudgal, Frank Castro, Sriya Sadhu (author of this article).

As I passed through the rows and rows of interesting projects, I was astonished to see how many social issues were being addressed. It was also surprising to see how many of the student-chosen projects had true promise. For example, there was a project called “Unmasking The Stars,” which addressed the issue of light pollution in Dublin. The students involved were extremely enthusiastic about the topic. Light pollution is not something that people normally think about but after hearing about it, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve the lives of citizens in Dublin and protect nocturnal wildlife. Farhan Karuvally, one of the project team members stated that their project “impacts the environment in a positive way by creating cost-effective alternatives to the harmful lights we have currently and helping people see the stars in the sky.” Who doesn’t want to see more starts at night? Other topics at the fair included homeless shelters for veterans, protecting against sexual assault, limiting food waste, halting private prisons, protecting animal rights, student voice in organizations, and many more.

Even though a student might not continue to work for their policy solution, the entire CAP experience made them aware that there are many important skills needed in order to convey ideas in a persuasive manner. It gave them the opportunity to converse with decision makers in their community, and it gave them courage to question their own ideas, while bringing their own practical and research-based solutions to the table.

During the fair, I wondered if the overwhelmingly thrilling idea of meeting authorities in the community could be the reason why there was an explosion of excitement. I can recall my surprise at the fair, when an authority figure that was against our policy came to our board to hear what we had to say! I was initially afraid- expecting a heated banter- but soon enough the authentic value of the experience arose and civil discourse took place. Throughout the year, I learned that there will be opposition to just about everything, and at that moment I had the chance to face those hurdles head on without backing away with fear. I did my research and I was ready!

Others were ready as well. From being unsure and unenthusiastic students, at the fair we all grew to be more mature, and far more serious about our topic and that entire transformation not only inspired me, but it warmed my heart as well.

Other than just the simple surprise about our performance at the fair, I was inspired that this project enabled powerless, middle school students to believe that they could make an impact on their school, their community, their state, their country- and even the world. I’ve always been told to make my mark on this world but I never understood how.
The Civic Action Project is a great start for middle school students who want to make their mark. It also helped us learn about and apply the practical learning skills that will be extremely useful in our adult lives. But most of all, it taught us civic activism – that we have a government that gives the people the power- all you have to do is participate.

I can’t help but thank the social science teachers at Fallon for allowing their students to have such a wonderful, authentic and eye-opening experience.

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State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker listens to students Andy Wang and Kiril Gupta as they explain their proposal for increased education standards for police officers to include classes in the social sciences. These classes may help lessen the occurrence of police brutality.

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