NAMS Students Celebrate Civics with Civics Day and a Trip to the EMK Institute

posted May 31, 2019, 2:41 PM by Jorge Goncalves

NAMS Students Celebrate Civics with Civics Day and a Trip to the EMK Institute

By Patrick McGravey, 8B Social Studies Teacher


May has been an exciting and educational month for all NAMS eighth graders in their social studies classes as they participated in the Fifth Annual NAMS Civics Day on May 3rd and six trips to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate in Boston at the end of May and through the beginning of June. This coincides with a new change in the Massachusetts History Frameworks which will switch to an intensive year of all Civics instruction for eighth graders starting in 2020. This new end of the year tradition at NAMS for over three hundred fifty students on the three eighth grade teams has resulted in engagement, an increased knowledge base in Civics and most of all fun.

NAMS Civics Day started out as an idea from 8B student Kaitlyn Parks who is now graduating NAHS and pursuing a career in government at American University in Washington DC. She brought her social studies teacher Patrick McGravey and State Representative Diana DiZoglio together in 2014 which started with a small program involving only two speakers for one eighth grade team. This has now grown to a celebration of Civics with over a dozen speakers providing seminars to ALL eighth grade students on a rotating basis for the entire academic day.

Highlights this year included new NAMS principal Jorge Goncalves participating with local Lawrence judges and representatives from the Immigration department as a naturalized US citizen. Students also heard from newly elected State Representatives Tram Nguyen and Christina Minicucci as well as Senator Diana DiZoglio, Michael Ryan from the Jury Duty Commission, various local government representatives from the School Department, School Committee, Board of Selectmen , and the office of Congressman Seth Moulton who is also running for President in 2020.Bringing government from all levels together was a massive success and the students impressed all of the speakers with their high quality questions, model behavior and overall application of the RAISE values throughout the day.

The next part of this enhanced experience in Civics Education took place throughout six trips to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate in Boston. At this hands on and interactive site, students participated in a simulation of being a US senator crafting and debating legislation on Immigration Reform which can be a complex and controversial issue. They were sworn in, given Senator profiles, placed in committees, and provided with the opportunity to vote for various bills that would be sent to the House of Representatives and eventually the President to become law. It was a very exciting day for all that attended and hopefully an experience that will be long lasting for the students soon to be future engaged citizens and possibly US leaders.

The eighth grade social studies department continues to work diligently to provide meaningful experiences for all students in Civics Education and look forward to future opportunities as the implementation of the new Civics standards become a reality in 2020. This will include an eventual MCAS assessment in Civics as well as a Civics Community Leadership Project that all eighth graders across Massachusetts will have to complete by the end of their Middle School experience which was recently signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker.