2015 Project Citizen Honors
Each year, the seniors of Columbia Christian Schools participate in Capstone, a course designed around the National Council of State Legislature supported Project Citizen curriculum. This class is designed to support student knowledge of the legislative process on a local level, expand their research skills, give them experience with formal presentations and prepare them for the next leg of their journey. Students make efforts to identify a problem they see in their community, study and prove the problem. They spend a semester researching using different methods such as collecting and analyzing empirical data, writing, administering and analyzing surveys, attending neighborhood association meetings, reading local news, interviewing local legislators, and the like. Once students have established a firm understanding of the problem, each student within a research team develops a public policy solution to the problem; writing a paper and creating an electronic presentation of their findings. Students then debate their alternative policies, ultimately selecting four they think are most effective. The group adds more research to each, eventually deciding on one most viable solution. Students create an action plan to implement the solution, then begin executing it by making phone calls, setting appointments, and presenting their findings to local leaders. During this time, students will also develop a four-panel presentation board, 2” binder of their research and a PowerPoint presentation. They practice presenting several times in class, then take their findings to the neighborhood – citizens, civil groups and government agencies all are invited to hear about their work.
To add to this experience, there is a competition component that is implemented. In the spring, students participate in a local mock hearing with judges who evaluate display boards, binders and hear the students present their findings. This year, the senior class divided themselves into two research teams. One team completed, An Analysis of CPTED Principals in the Montavilla Neighborhood, where they evaluated the relationship between property crime and crime prevention through environmental design. They were applauded for their ingenuitive approach to solving the problem of crime in their neighborhood – ultimately asking for a two part solution. After developing and implementing a similar study of their neighborhood, students asked Portland’s Bureau of Technological Services to route PDX Reporter App crime-related reports to the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) so the office could have a stronger record of hot spots in the city for crime-related issues. Additionally, they asked for an analyst to be added to ONI’s team, so they could utilize these reports in a manner that would help their office be more proactive toward crime prevention. This group scored in the 90th percentile at the local hearing, where judges were impressed with both their research and display. The team, comprised of Reuben C., Mook J., Matthew K., Luke M., Josiah N., Jake R., Austin R., Jason S., Cassidy S., Daniel V., Macy V. and Makinna W. were invited to compete at state competition where they outstandingly represented Columbia Christian Schools.
The second research team studied, An Evaluation of Illegal Drug Use in Montavilla Park where they spent several months counting, mapping, and sweeping the local park for drug paraphernalia. Students found a high volume of needle caps, shoelaces, crack pipes and other remnants of drug use in the park. Ultimately, they discovered a direct correlation between drug use and their efforts to clean the park – with a decline to zero pieces of paraphernalia in their last three visits to the park. They ultimately decided to ask Montavilla Park, in relationship with the Montavilla Neighborhood Association, to establish a Friends of Montavilla Park program. The parks department warmly received their solution and are actively working to enact it. These students did very well in their local hearing, scoring in the 90th percentile, and were invited to compete at the state level where they impressed the judges with their depth of research and very practical solution. This group, comprised of Alex B., Karli C., Caden D., Carson H., Yelin P., Mark R., Meghan S., and Jenna T., were successful in winning the state competition, and their research was mailed to the Center for Civic Education for national evaluation at the August competition where state legislators attending the National Conference of State Legislature’s Legislative Summit evaluate the portfolios. The achievements will be announced at the plenary session of the Legislative Summit later this summer!