From State House display to civics lesson

Three students visiting the State House to discuss the importance of their guidance counselors end up speaking before a legislative panel.

AUGUSTA – It began as an opportunity for Maine school counselors to tout the importance of their services in the State House Hall of Flags.

By the end of the day, it had become a firsthand civics lesson for three middle-school students from the Poland area.

Counselors from across Maine on March 30 distributed brochures and talked to passersby about the role school guidance counselors play in supporting students’ academic success. Three students from Poland’s Whittier Middle School joined them in spreading the word.

After a while, though, the students became frustrated that members of the Legislature’s Education Committee hadn’t stopped by to strike up conversation. A full slate of legislative business was keeping the committee members busy.

But that didn’t stop the Whittier students, said Shelley Reed, the Maine Department of Education’s truancy and dropout prevention coordinator. They decided to deliver Hall of Flags refreshments to the Education Committee room.

“The committee just stopped everything they were doing and invited these kids in,” Reed said. “It was a wonderful civics lesson.”

Committee members asked the students why they were visiting the State House and invited them back to deliver testimony on future bills.

“I think it was the best part of these kids’ day,” Reed said.

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