Civics Day participants over the past several weeks were assigned to shadow a city leader, either an elected official or city executive staff member, as they toured Hamilton, visited municipal buildings and historic sites, and learned about its history and future.
The Civics Day program culminated on Thursday when the students held mock city council and school board meetings at the historic City Council Chamber at 20 High St. and visited the municipal court at 345 High St.
“It’s a day to celebrate what Civics Day represents,” said Mayor Pat Moeller. “It’s a day to celebrate these students who work very hard shadowing but also being part of a mock city council and mock school board, but when you hear their ideas, it may go from mock to action.”
The mayor, who participated in Civics Day when he was in high school, said this is not just an opportunity for students to listen and learn, but “it’s a great opportunity for us as adults for us to listen and learn.”
Among the ideas students representing the city council pitched included installing an art installation that highlights the Civics Day program and the city’s two high schools; creating a website that lists native trees to Southwest Ohio to help people know which ones thrive and which ones are evasive and really can’t survive; an ice skating rink at Marcum Park, not unlike what’s at Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati as an economic development driver; and establish blue light emergency phones, similar to ones on college campuses, in densely populated areas, especially where crime rates are higher.
Among the ideas students representing the school board pitched included installing new athletic record boards at Hamilton High School’s hallways; implementing ASL courses (American Sign Language) at Badin High School as it’s already at Hamilton; implementing foreign language classes in the elementary and middle schools to improve communication as there’s a rise of students who are not native English speakers; and establish joint activities, like a powder puff game or kickball, between Hamilton and Badin.
Moeller highlighted the two schools are also likely the last to participate in an activity at the historic council chamber as that building is expected to become a hotel in about a year.
“It’s kind of a neat passing of the torch to these young leaders, and they’re already leaders, by basically closing down that council chamber and opening up the next door of their lives as well as the next door for that particular project,” he said.
Rylie Lux, a Hamilton High School senior who was the mayor for Civics Day, said this program has been “a huge part” of the students’ lives and she’s grateful for the work accomplished thus far.
“Throughout this, we got a deeper understanding about Hamilton and all the work that really goes into it,” Lux said.
Moeller said one thing he’s proud of, and leaders today should be proud of, is the group of future leaders had the same question on almost every issue, every resolution, and every motion: “Somebody asked, ‘What is the cost of this project?’ So, hey, they got it right, now.”