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Harborfields Civics Class Wins $500 Jovia Grant For Outdoor Learning Space

Photo courtesy of Harborfields Central School District

Patty Taylor’s Civic Awareness and Community Action class at Harborfields High School recently received a $500 grant from Jovia Credit Union, which will be used to create an outdoor learning space in the school’s courtyard. Taylor’s course, a new elective at Harborfields, strives to encourage students to become active citizens and leaders in their school and surrounding community.

“We are helping our students to become more aware of the larger issues of concern at the local, state and national levels of government and to understand who the actors are that have an impact on the policymaking process,” Taylor said.

As a culminating activity for the course, students complete a Civic Readiness Capstone Project, which not only benefits the community but also earns them the Seal of Civic Readiness. Students are asked to identify a problem, research ways to solve that problem and to take action. One of the areas that Taylor’s class identified as being in need of improvement was the high school’s south courtyard. The students decided to transform it into a more welcoming place and to create an outdoor learning space that can be utilized as an outdoor classroom. Thus far, the students completed a cleanup of the area and made plans to replace old benches with dual purpose benches that can be used as both benches and tables. Seeing an opportunity to earn the Jovia grant, the students wrote up a winning proposal asking for support for their outdoor learning space.

“My students are now actively seeking out additional sources of funding to make their vision a reality,” Taylor said. “In the meantime, what is most important is that they are learning how to take ownership of issues and formulate plans of action, and that they know they can make a difference in the lives of others.”

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