Over the weeks of the third quarter, the ninth graders have been in a class called US Government. In this course, students read the entirety of the US Constitution and come to learn about the three branches of our government, the system of checks and balances put in place by our Founding Fathers and essentially how “We the People” are governed. This year, a new component has been added to the course. Called Citizenship 101, the students are given the tools to be active participants in our “Republican” form of government (guaranteed to each state by the Federal government in Article IV of the Constitution). Students learned to read and summarize articles about Constitutional topics, to write letters to the editor in support or opposition of issues of the day and to both e-mail and call their Senators (Republican Susan Collins and Independent Angus King) and our First Congressional District Representative (Democrat Chellie Pingree). As you can imagine, it is quite anxiety producing as a fifteen year old to pick up the telephone and call one’s Senator or Representative with a concern or query. These students are learning to speak up and out, even if their voices quiver while they do so!
The idea behind Citizenship 101 is that these students are the future of our country. With their knowledge of the facts of the Constitution and these skills to engage in the political process, our students are prepared to be awake and aware citizens. The goal is not to produce Constitutional scholars, but to help develop citizens ready for the rough and tumble of democracy. To know and understand and, as a result, to care and to take action. This engagement of the head, the heart and the hands is a picture of the fundamental ideals of the entirety of Waldorf education.
Photo: Senator Angus King and freshman Caitlin Keliher