Teachers working to keep students interested in current events through breaks

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Published: May. 22, 2023 at 12:32 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The 2023 primary election has concluded, but preparing for the day to vote is something teachers spend weeks talking about with students.

“I used to teach civics in high school and we always talked about the importance of getting out and voting,” said Kevin Whitman, a former civics teacher at Perry County Central High School.

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The lesson does not begin and end with gearing up to vote, as teachers work to spark conversations on current issues.

“The first thing that I do is that I try to remind students that there are bills being debated, laws being passed every day, not just in Kentucky, but all across the country, that effect them,” said Patrick Hall, a social studies teacher at Hazard High School.

Conversations about current events may not come from a textbook, but instead through innovative ways of getting students involved.

In Hall’s classroom, students learn about real-world topics through an assignment to create their own political parties.

“When I’m giving them this project, I’m telling them, ‘Do not just make your party that you’re creating the Republicans 2.0 or the Democrats 2.0. Really think about what issues are important to you,’” he said.

The chances that students stay interested through summer break increase with the creative competition, and then when election season arrives and students reach voting age, they are eager to vote and informed about topics.

“So, they can have a say in who gets into office and I’ve always said, ‘If you don’t vote, don’t complain,’” Kevin Whitman said.