Graham meets with Civic Engagement students

Thursday, August 17, 2017 0 Comments

Graham meets with Civic Engagement students

Students from the Civics Engagement Academy (CEA) at Bob Graham Education Center (BGEC) spent the summer reading and meeting in small groups to prepare for the upcoming school year. This included reading Senator Bob Graham's most recent book - “America, The Owner's Manual: How To Fight City Hall And Win.”  

On August 3, the CEA students and their teachers met at Town Hall to check in on the work they had done over the summer. As part of that meeting, the Bobcat Law Society Parent Booster Club – which raises funds and provides support to the teachers and students in the CEA, coordinated a panel discussion with town officials to discuss portions of the Senator's book with the students.  

In his book, Graham advocates for a shift in civic education from a lecture-based approach that focuses on governmental structure and process to a dynamic experience that emphasizes personal engagement. The CEA program has successfully accomplished this goal of civic engagement and with the panel made up of town officials sought to further expose the students to their government by having them hear directly from their elected officials. The panel included: Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez, Councilmembers Tim Daubert and Luis Collazo, newly appointed Councilmember Marilyn Ruano, and was moderated by the Bobcat Law Society president Ramiro Inguanzo.

When Graham heard about the meeting the students were having with their local elected officials, he asked if he could come by and observe as he obviously takes great joy in seeing civic education taught in an interactive manner. When he arrived after hearing about the meeting, he entered the Council Chambers and surprised students and parents. 
Graham was so gracious with his time, and to surprise us all with his attendance provided an incredible opportunity for our students to hear directly from not only the namesake of their school, but also from the author of the book they have been reading" said Jackeline Hernandez, one of the teachers in the CEA.  

Graham was invited to address the students and then joined the elected officials on the panel and participated in a question and answer session between the students and the local leaders. What was supposed to be a 30 minute Q&A lasted nearly two hours as the students and the panelists engaged in a valuable and practical discussion.  

“Tonight's meeting was exactly what Senator Graham recommends in his book, to create as many opportunities as possible for students to personally connect with their government and make it a dynamic experience,” said Inguanzo.

In what was her first official act, Ruano, who also happens to be the immediate past president of the Bobcat Law Society, congratulated the students and also challenged them to continue working hard and stay connected and engaged with their government. 

“It was such a treat to make my councilwoman debut with my CEA family. The students in this program are so impressive. Rest assured that the future of our town is in good hands. And thank you to Senator Bob Graham for the surprise appearance."

The CEA has won many local, state and national competitions over the past few years. Most recently, students participated in the 2017 Project Citizen National Showcase in California in late July. The CEA team from BGEC was the only middle school in the state of Florida to receive the highest achievement by earning a “Superior” ranking at this competition which showcases how students solve local problems through civic engagement.

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