Fifth-graders at Alabama’s Thompson Intermediate School are becoming Super Citizens by emulating local heroes who are making a difference in their community.
For 10 weeks, students participated in the Super Citizen program run by Liberty’s Legacy that focuses on promoting civics and character education, financial responsibility, and career readiness, an experience that culminated with an assembly in early November to honor heroes impacting their lives, according to the Shelby County Reporter.
“It’s important that we start to instill those values in them now, to take pride in themselves and in their communities, because they are the future. They will be the difference in this country,” said Liberty’s Legacy spokeswoman Kelli Dodd. “They focus on how our government works, how to make a budget, the history of the Statue of Liberty and what that means, as well.”
Students took turns at the recent ceremony explaining how adults in their lives have made a positive impact, and presented them with a miniature Statue of Liberty to give thanks.
Those honored included parents and grandparents, siblings, teachers, school staff, and others.
“There are so many walks of life that are being represented today,” said TIS Principal Brent Byars at the Nov. 3 event.
One student presented a statue to local meteorologist James Spann.
“Whenever there’s bad weather, he stays up all night to keep us aware of the weather,” the student said, according to the Reporter.
Dodd said the ceremony to honor real-life heroes is key to connecting the lessons from the Super Citizens program to everyday life.
“What’s really beautiful is that they’re taking all these lessons that can be kind of abstract and global and they personalize it and make them very tangible for them,” she said.
We can’t live without heroes.
The flesh-and-blood kind in our community inspire us in unique ways. In their actions, we see how to be kind, just, patient, and courageous. And as we admire them, we imitate them—slowly learning how our heroes’ character was forged by virtuous habits.
Community heroes have an influence on children that heroes on the silver screen may not—because we know them as real people, not the digitally-retouched version of reality.
Sociologist James Davison Hunter from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia explains the importance of character in his book The Death of Character:
History and philosophy both suggest to us that the flourishing of character rooted in elevated virtues is essential to justice in human affairs; its absence, a measure of corruption and a portent of social and political collapse, especially in a democracy. The importance of character is a part of the moral imagination we Americans have inherited, a sensibility reinforced by the lessons of history.
“The Super Citizen Program makes learning history, civics, character, financial literacy and career readiness exciting. Our immersive learning experiences teach students to become responsible, outstanding citizens,” according to the group’s website.
“Just imagine a generation of students who excel in teach-to-test subjects but have little knowledge of civics, character, financial responsibility and career readiness. Will math and science alone continue our nation’s progress? Our students deserve to learn these guiding lessons—as well as the great American Story that gives context to their important roles in our country’s future. We must teach them that they hold titles more important than ‘engineer,’ ‘scientist’ even . . . ‘president’ . . . That title is citizen.”