A group of Liberty Elementary School fourth-graders got the chance to present their community improvement suggestions to Mayor Ronald Stabak, Liberty Supervisor Charlie Barbuti and Parks and Recreation Director Brian Scardefield during an open panel on May 16.
The open panel was conceptualized by the fourth grade student body as a way for students to directly tell the community officials what they wanted to see added to the downtown Liberty area to make it a great place to live and play.
The panel was a capstone their reading/writing lesson, explained reading/writing teacher Mrs. Jodi Fiddle-Lieberman.
Each student from the fourth-grade student body read a series of articles that raised their own concerns regarding childhood obesity, lack of physical activity and dependency on technology.
Using research and causal inference, they decided to write letters outlining their suggestions for improving the Liberty community and addressing those three concerns.
By preparing for and presenting at the forum, each student met the following Common Core State Standards:
– Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes;
– Speak clearly at an understandable pace; and
-Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
While preparing for the panel, each student wrote letters to Mr. Stabak, Barbuti and Scardefield to express their concerns and suggestions for to improve the economy, decrease obesity and increase physical activity among Liberty’s youth. Eight students were selected to represent the fourth-grade class and lead the panel’s discussion topics.
The students introduced several ideas that would provide additional options for family-oriented leisure activities in Liberty. For example, one representative suggested to create a bike path or widen the roads’ existing bike lanes to that students could safety ride through town. This modification would save money on gas, as well as encourage healthy living styles.
One representative suggested that Parks and Recreation hold a snowman building contest in the winter, while another asked if the town could host a “sweet treat baking competition” for children and their parents to compete in. This event would help get kids away from electronics and spend more time with family, student Ishay Smith said.
Other suggestions included opening a petting farm, creating an elementary basketball courts and closing Main Street to make a roller rink.
“Today’s youth spend a lot of time playing video games and as a result, mix fiction with reality,” student Mia Barragon said, citing an article about the correlation of video game playing and bullying. “If there were more physical activities to do in the town, they wouldn’t be spending so much time playing video games.”
The panel resulted in very tangible results: a pledge to move forward by considering student suggestions and conduct a student-wide survey to see what other types of town-hosted events or activities students would be interested in attending.
“I feel like I was able to make a difference in my community today,” student Stephanie Sandoval said.