Ceremony marks Maine South’s ‘Democracy School’ status
Maine South High School recently celebrated its recognition as an Illinois Democracy School by hosting a traveling museum on First Amendment freedoms and receiving a banner in honor of the school’s achievement.
Maine South is one of only six high schools in the state to earn the “Democracy School” distinction in 2012. This honor is bestowed by the Civic Mission Coalition, which grants Democracy School status to schools that provide students with authentic experiences in the rights, responsibilities, and tensions inherent in living in a constitutional democracy. Through these experiences, they strive to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for informed, effective engagement in our democracy.
Since 2006, only 17 Illinois high schools, including Maine West and now Maine South, have successfully completed a school-wide civic assessment. In addition to receiving a banner to display in the school, Maine South will receive a stipend from the McCormick Foundation to invest in high quality civic learning initiatives.
During the November 2 ceremony, Shawn Healy, Illinois Civic Mission Coalition chair, joined State Sen. Dan Kotowski and Park Ridge Mayor Dave Schmidt in lauding South’s commitment to engaging students in civic learning. Maine South Social Science Department Chair Brendan Gaughan introduced and thanked the school’s government teachers for their commitment to civic learning. Before and after the ceremony, South government students had an opportunity to tour the Freedom Express, a 45-foot traveling interactive museum that offers visitors an opportunity to explore First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech, assembly and petition.
Maine South serves approximately 2,600 students, primarily from Park Ridge and Niles along with portions of Harwood Heights, Norridge and Norwood Park Township. The Illinois Civic Mission Coalition is a broad non-partisan consortium including educators, administrators, students, universities, funders, elected officials, policymakers and representatives from the private and non-profit sectors. Formed in 2004 by the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, the Illinois Coalition is part of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, a national initiative to restore a core purpose of education to prepare America’s youngest citizens to be informed and active participants in our democracy. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation has convened the Coalition since 2010.