Stephens Middle School Students Win Statewide and National Awards for Civics Project

Thirty students in teacher Audrey Von Maluski’s Project Citizen elective class at Stephens Middle School recently won top honors in the state, and in the nation, for a comprehensive civics project they worked on last spring.

The students’ award-winning project is called “Is this America? Safer Schools to End Gun Violence.”

The 7th and 8th graders conducted original research, selected their own topic and determined recommendations to make schools safer. The students led interviews with multiple experts in the fields of education, security, mental health and law enforcement.

Stephens Middle School Students Oregon Project Citizen Champions

Stephens Middle School students celebrate after winning 1st Place in Oregon for their Project Citizen presentation (Photo: Mary Fields).

At the state competition, Stephens’ students gave presentations in front of an expert panel, which included an extended question-and-answer period that was totally unscripted. Their presentation panels, which are informative posters, were also evaluated along with a binder that documented all the research and ideas they developed.

After winning the state competition, the students’ work was selected to represent Oregon at the national Project Citizen Showcase. Only first place winners competed in the national showcase last month.

Although they were not able to attend the national competition in California in person, students submitted their presentation panels and portfolio binder for judging. Stephens was one of four schools from across the nation ranked as Superior, the top award.

Winning at the state and national levels is exciting, but teacher Audrey Von Maluski says the true value of Project Citizen elective classes is in empowering students by promoting active participation in discussion and the practice of democratic and civic values.

Congratulations to Stephen’s students on your successful project, and for being recognized at both the state and national level for the quality or your work!