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First Amendment School, Kennebunk High School
Grade level: 9 - 12
First Amendment Schools: Educating for Freedom and Responsibility is a national reform initiative designed to transform how schools teach and practice the rights and responsibilities of citizenship that frame civic life in our democracy. First Amendment Schools was launched by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the First Amendment Center on March 16, 2001, the 250th anniversary of James Madison's birth. Today the First Amendment Schools Network includes nearly 100 schools - K-12, public and private - and 70,000 students throughout the nation committed to becoming laboratories of democratic freedom.
Kennebunk High School (K.H.S.) was chosen for the inaugural class of First Amendment Schools in May, 2002, and awarded a $10,000 grant to implement First Amendment School principles. As a result, a vast number of opportunities are provided to students at this school to experience participation, citizenship and leadership. For example, students at K.H.S. serve on the District School Board, provide regular feedback to teachers about their teaching, sit on hiring committees, and are extensively involved in the day to day operations of the school.
In addition, students are at the center of parent teacher conferences and the student run newspaper, Ramblings, is a vibrant part of the culture of openness that prevails at this school. Numerous student organizations exist that contribute to the welfare, governance and improvement of the school.
Service-Learning projects, community service and "we care" initiatives provide students with opportunities to contribute to their communities and practice citizenship. As a First Amendment Project School, Kennebunk works at teaching students core practices of Civic life and allows students to practice the skills needed to sustain a participatory democracy.
As a result of four years of input and guidance from the schools in our network, the First Amendment Schools project has published a new resource for educators, Core Civic Habits Practiced in First Amendment Schools. The purpose of this document is both to define a set of "civic habits" that teachers, parents, students, and administrators can all strive to embody and share, and also to provide a behavioral check list for educators to use in ensuring that future First Amendment Schools action plans, curricular units, and school improvement strategies directly reinforce the central principles of democratic citizenship.
Professional development opportunities are available through the First Amendment Schools website http://www.firstamendmentschools.org. In addition, Nelson Beaudoin, principal of K.H.S. is also available for professional development. firstname.lastname@example.org.
A student representative to the Kennebunk School Board solved a problem that had plagued us for years, namely the need to have our students take state-level standardized testing more seriously. Students were not giving these tests their best effort because the scores had no real impact on them individually. The possibility of including these test results on student transcripts was considered. Some thought this would motivate students; others argued that the scores could hurt students in the college search process. The student board member offered a completely sensible compromise: Reward students who meet or exceed state standards by including state scores on their transcripts only. This strategy would help those students, inspire all students to strive to meet the standards, and not hurt anyone.
In addition, at K.H.S., students serve on hiring committees. Because we believe that students have something to say that matters, we are willing to involve them in the hiring process. With rights, however, there are accompanying responsibilities. In this case, we expect and trust that students will maintain confidentiality.
First Amendment Schools
First Amendment Schools
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