Muncie Central High School devoted Friday, April 19, to a wide variety of Civics Day activities that fostered students’ appreciation. Civics Day at Muncie Central High School on Apr. 19, 2024. Photo by Samantha Blankenship / Ball State University of community engagement, civic processes, and the people who commit themselves to government and public safety.

Organized by social studies teacher Julie Snider, over 700 students and 60 teachers participated in dozens of indoor and outdoor activities in four sessions. “Our 2nd Annual Civics Day was a huge success.

Students were able to experience so many different civics-related activities. They discussed politics with elected officials, they baked dog treats for ARF, they wrote letters to legislators, they made encouraging cards for local nursing home residents, they cleaned up the neighborhood, they planted trees and flowers, and so much more,” Julie said.

Civic Action

With the assistance of Allen Kidd, students planted Indiana native trees on the MCHS campus, planted flower bulbs and pulled weeds with Sheri Watson, cleaned up the Muncie Central High School campus with Kyle Padgett and Matt Miller, painted the softball dugouts with Whitney Reed, created and stamped voting buttons, and wrote letters to legislators with Drew Shermeta. Under the guidance of Isaac Derkach and Nathan Jones, student teams created civics ad campaign videos that will be uploaded on CREATE’s website.

Jason Babb and Stacey Gill hosted showings of the film Hidden Figures.

Community leaders interacted with students and shared their expertise and commitment to public service. State Representative Sue Errington, State Senator Scott Alexander, and City Council members Dale Basham, Nora Powell, and Brandon Garrett participated in a Meet Your Legislators panel in the auditorium, and Deputy Mayor Richard Ivy attended in the afternoon. Judge Judi Calhoun talked about her legal career and helped students put Goldilocks on trial. Educator Ashaki Goodall gave an activism workshop in the MCHS library. Social Studies teacher Andrew Shermeta said, “Civics Day is proof that our school is uniquely dedicated to getting students out into the world to learn about and shape their communities.”

Three days before Earth Day, teachers helped students understand that protecting the environment is a civic duty for long-term sustainability. Jason Donati, Jackson Branson, and Nicholas Marquell led walks along White River to discuss the history of the levee, plant life, and river life. Michaela Gunning and Marnell Bishop demonstrated how to plant an herb garden. Crystal Frayer and Morgan Leckie led students in creating upcycled nature journals and on a nature walk. Angie Pool led students on a cleanup along the Cardinal Greenway.

Community Engagement

The day’s activities demonstrated many ways that civic action can strengthen local connections, benefit others, and care for the community. Alan Bradley helped students learn about community demographics through maps and Census information. Jennifer Jensen and Melody Stader led students on a Downtown Walk & Talk. Angela James, Julie Turner, and Shane Retter helped students use math to explore issues in inequality and other real-world problems using Citizen Math, while Kirk Schilling held a Euchre tournament and Jacob Buening, Tacoma Archuleta, and Sarah Hofmann presided over a math game room. Gidget Fisher delivered a Special Olympics presentation. Students baked dog treats for the Animal Rescue Fund with Lisa Ayres and Renee Baldwin, created bird feeders covered in peanut butter and seeds and bird homes with Samantha Floyd and Stephanie Norris, ands enjoyed a health and fitness of downtown Muncie with Shea Hill and Katherine Karn. Students’ creativity was on display as they painted Rocks of Encouragement and created cards for nursing home residents with AR Abrams-Rains, Carol Daugherty, and John McKalip. Under the direction of Katherine Hughes and Conner Vanscyoc, students painted small canvases to be combined in a larger mural. Morgan Leckie, Elliana Kirkpatrick, Mikayla Hurst, and Hannah Souronis presided over a Fix Up Writing Center and a Poetry Slam. Betsy Fitzgerald helped students create a pamphlet showing Muncie’s diverse restaurants.

Twenty non-profits hosted students for either job shadowing or volunteer work, including Muncie Mission, Muncie Children’s Museum, YWCA, Minnetrista, Animal Rescue Fund, Downtown Development, Beech Grove Cemetery, MADJAX, Motivate Our Minds, Ross Center, and the Muncie Fire Department. Muncie Public Library, the Muncie Land Bank, the League of Woment Voters joined CREATE in hosting informational tables in the MCHS entryway.

Civics Day was a great experience for staff and students to get first-hand knowledge, understanding and hands on lessons about civics and community pride,” said social studies teacher AJ Bradley, “It was Civitastic!” Tired but very pleased, at the end of Civics Day Julie Snider said, “I am so grateful for the support from the entire community, MCS teachers and administrators, and the students who did such a great job this year! I can’t wait to plan next year’s event.”