Eighth-graders share knowledge with communityPublished 1:22pm Saturday, November 23, 2013
FRANKLIN—A class of eighth-graders at J.P. King Middle School took to the stage Friday afternoon and became the teachers.
Many took away some valuable lessons through teaching, including Gerrell Porter, 14. It was his stage debut, but Porter didn’t have any apparent stage fright.
“It was the first time I have had to do anything in front of a crowd,” he said. “But it was fun to do. I learned more about Franklin and the things we can do to make it a better place.”
Their teacher, Sandra Councill, had organized an event where students would pick topics and information from articles in The Tidewater News about government and civics, and put together presentations. The students would get on stage, and talk about what they learned in their research, which also included other sources. Oh, and Councill invited the community to come learn from the presentations.
“I learned we need a lot of help to fix the community, and here at J.P. King, we are going to fix it one student at a time,” said eighth-grader James Grant IV, who put together the program for the event. “I think it is very important to reach out to the community.”
Topics included drugs and gangs, improving the homes in the community, the neighborhood watch program, teenage pregnancy, how to deal with flooding and rebuilding Hayden High School.
“Hayden can be rebuilt if we all come together,” said Taciona Smith, 13. “They are selling bricks to raise money for it.”
Cindy Mitrovic, 13, said she learned a lot, and that the event turned out well.
“I learned about how government and civics plays in our daily lives, and how things we learn in the classroom relate to reality,” she said. “Considering it was a sporadic event for us, some of the students who have struggled did very well with this.
“We are hoping that this presentation exhibited how we at J.P. King hope to become more involved in our community, in a positive way.”
Deneasia Hunt, 14, also took away from this a few ways to help Franklin.
“We need to get a neighborhood watch everywhere,” she said. “Also, we need to help people with getting their homes better.”
Councill said she thought it helped their self-esteem.
“I was just so proud of them,” she said. “Even though they were nervous wrecks today, they put their hearts into coming up with their products on stage.
“I felt like a mother hen who had hatched all these wonderful chicks. Nothing will top it all year.”
She got the idea because she wanted a way to connect students with the local community. All 87 students had the same guidelines, though it was optional for them to present on stage.
“We have The Tidewater News, and all of these things going on locally,” she said. “I thought, why don’t I come up with some things that are happening here, and get them to respond to it?”
Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle, along with school board member Nancy Godwin, took a break from the Virginia School Boards Association conference to take in the event.
“I was excited for the students and pleased that Mrs. Councill invited the community,” she said. “It is good to sit in school and learn, but it is important for students to learn outside of the classroom.”
Principal Lisa Francis said having community members at the event made it even better for the students.
“I was happy the community had come here to see our progress,” she said. “We want J.P. King students to be the best.
“I think this really opened up their eyes to the community of Franklin.”
Considering it was the first time on stage for many of the children, Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn had the adults in the room give all of the children a standing ovation.
“We want you to know that we are so proud of you,” she said. “This is what it is going to take to get an education.”