Maine South honored as “Illinois Democracy School”
Maine South High School High School was recognized today by the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition as an Illinois Democracy School. This honor appropriately coincides with the 225th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. Illinois Democracy Schools are recognized for providing 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, seventeen Illinois high schools have successfully completed a school-wide civic assessment and have been subsequently recognized as Democracy Schools by the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition, currently convened by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation’s Civics Program. Maine South High School is one of six high schools that earned this distinction in 2012 and joins Maine West, which has previously earned this designation.
As a recognized Democracy School, Maine South will receive a stipend from the McCormick Foundation to invest in high quality civic learning initiatives, along with a banner for public display. Maine South will also receive a certificate signed by the Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, Gery Chico, the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, Thomas L. Kilbride, and the schools’ state legislators, Senator Dan Kotowski and Representative Rosemary Mulligan.
“The availability of high-quality, school-based civic learning opportunities for all Illinois students is vital to sustaining democracy in our state and beyond,” said Shawn Healy, chair, Illinois Civic Mission Coalition and civic learning and engagement scholar, Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “The committed students, teachers, administrators, and school board members of these six schools should be commended for living their civic mission and joining the growing ranks of Illinois Democracy Schools.”
Illinois Democracy Schools embrace their mission to provide high quality civic learning opportunities for all students. Their leadership emphasizes civic learning through development of professional faculty and staff capacity, and proven civic learning practices are woven throughout the formal curriculum. Democracy Schools foster a school climate that nurtures and models civic dispositions and build reciprocal relationships within the surrounding community.
Democracy Schools provide numerous opportunities for students to participate in the democratic process through a range of classes and clubs. From class discussion on current issues and democratic simulations to extracurricular and service learning opportunities, students are able to experience first-hand the critical role they can play in shaping their government and society.
Maine South Social Science Department Chair Brendan Gaughan said: "In becoming a Democracy School, the foundation of the process is based upon ‘Six Proven Practices’ that are integral in high school level civic education: Classroom instruction, Current Events, Service Learning, Activities, Student Voice, and Simulations. An audit of these Six Proven Practices took place throughout each and every department of Maine South. In sum, this recognition is a true evaluation of the many great contributions that all faculty members at Maine South contribute each year."
Principal Shawn Messmer said, “Maine South is incredibly proud of the work of the teachers in our Social Science Department who helped us gain this designation. The Democracy School designation recognizes our commitment to helping our students become active and informed participants of our democracy and the world.”
Maine South serves approximately 2,600 students, primarily from Park Ridge and Niles along with portions of Harwood Heights, Norridge and Norwood Park Township. Maine South offers a comprehensive and rigorous education program, along with a host of extracurricular opportunities. Additional information about the school may be found at http://south.maine207.org/.
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. For more information, please visit www.McCormickFoundation.org/DemocracySchools.