By Greg Ritchie
LATEXO – Latexo Elementary School students partnered with Baylor University’s iEngage Civics Camp. For two weeks, program director Dr. Karon LeCompte was on campus leading the students in learning how to be better citizens by working together to solve different community issues.
Each day the kids received guest speakers in different capacities from around Houston County. The students then broke up into different teams – each taking on a problem and proposing their own solutions to each issue. There were issues such as drug abuse and traffic problems – to social issues. The students presented their solutions to a group of “sharks” – six community leaders, Monday, Sept. 19 in Latexo elementary classrooms.
While the sharks broke up into two groups, the students came to the front of the class and presented a poster they had created. The posters also showed each team’s unique ideas and creativity. The students presented the problem they were assigned and some possible solutions. The sharks listened and then made recommendations – about the solution itself or about the way the kids presented.
Dr. LeCompte couldn’t help but be proud of the accomplishments the young students had made and were able to show off to the local businesspeople.
“Today is an opportunity for adults to come into the classrooms and listen to the children as they talk about the community issues they have investigated during the week,” LaCompte said. “Some of them are really tough issues – even for adults. These children are learning on their own, doing research, reading, writing – they are learning to care about things that happen in their community.”
Local businesswoman Susan Knox – one of the sharks judging the presentations – got involved thanks to an invitation from Latexo Elementary School Principal Kathryn Jenkines.
“The principal called me – I think she knew my background and knew that I enjoy kids and enjoy marketing – and just seeing well-rounded people,” Knox said.
Knox said one of the presentations concerned the recent burn ban in the county. She said she was pleased with how the students handled the issue – and themselves.
“I remember being that age and how frightened I was!” Knox said. “I thought they handled it very well. I thought they all put some good thought into the problem. They recommended putting more flags around the county for a burn ban so every neighborhood knows there is a burn ban. I have full faith in the next generation.”
LaCompte said both she and the other adults who participated in the program noticed how seriously the children took the assignments.
“Very surprised,” LaCompte said. “And always surprised and amazed that our students at Latexo Elementary are able to think, talk and articulate these issues in a very adult way.”
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]