Escalante Middle School sixth graders put their lessons about what it means to be a good citizen into practice Tuesday at Manna soup kitchen by washing dishes, mixing cookies and bagging lunches.
Rather than tackle the politicized debate about citizenship and immigration, Escalante teachers keyed in on what it means to be a good citizen within a community and create positive change, said Emily Polster, language arts teacher.
About 90% of students already equated being a good person with being good citizens based on elementary school lessons, so sixth grade teachers have built on that knowledge, she said.
The guiding question for all lessons is: “How does citizenship affect the world around us?” Polster said.
“We want students to have a foundation for the rest of their lives that is based on understanding how they can affect change,” she said.
The lessons are built on four components of citizenship: mindset, manners, service and justice, she said.
She also hopes the lessons will help students have civil conversations with those they disagree with.
About 87 Escalante students are expected to visit Manna in small groups this week to put their lessons to work. They also visited the Himalayan Kitchen to practice their manners, Polster said.
Lessons in the classroom about citizenship have included reading “Ghost,” a book about a black middle school track athlete and “Peak,” the story of a 14-year-old who climbs Mount Everest.
Sixth grader Emma Chavez said this semester has taught her to respect all cultures and understand they are all different.
She also learned “to be more respectful, thankful and contribute; if a community needs something, give them that,” she said.