These Good Citizens Spent the Summer Learning About Their Communities and Giving Back | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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These Good Citizens Spent the Summer Learning About Their Communities and Giving Back

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Published November 15, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated December 2, 2022 at 8:02 p.m.


Good Citizen organizers and partners with participants in the House chamber - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Good Citizen organizers and partners with participants in the House chamber

If you're feeling nervous about the state of our democracy, here's something to cheer you up: some of the submissions we received for this summer's Good Citizen Challenge!

From mid-May to Labor Day, young Vermonters all across the state took part in the Challenge, completing civics-related activities on a bingo-like scorecard. This summer's Challenge was inspired by an exhibit at the Vermont History Museum about James Wilson of Bradford, who was the first person in the United States to make and sell globes.

Seven Days publisher and editor-in-chief Paula Routly and Vermont Public president and CEO Scott Finn presenting the Media award to René Simakaski - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Seven Days publisher and editor-in-chief Paula Routly and Vermont Public president and CEO Scott Finn presenting the Media award to René Simakaski

Challenge participants visited the museum, listened to the podcast "Brave Little State," read local newspapers, watched candidate debates and pitched in to help their neighbors. On November 3, we invited them to the Statehouse to celebrate their achievements — and hand out some prizes. We raffled off the Grand Prize, a trip to Washington, D.C., and presented awards for the best work on each of the four types of activities: History, Government, Community and Media. We also welcomed Challenge participants from years past who missed out on a Statehouse reception because of COVID-19.

Kate McCarthy of the Vermont Community Foundation presenting the Community award to Callum McGregor - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Kate McCarthy of the Vermont Community Foundation presenting the Community award to Callum McGregor

While seated at legislators' desks in the House chamber, the students listened to state curator David Schutz and Secretary of State-elect Sarah Copeland Hanzas describe the importance of the Statehouse and the work that goes on in "the people's house." Congressional staffers and Good Citizen partners also encouraged young Vermonters to get involved and possibly run for office themselves someday.

Vermont Historical Society director Stephen Perkins presenting the History award to Josie Boyle - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Vermont Historical Society director Stephen Perkins presenting the History award to Josie Boyle

Thanks to all of our sponsors and organizing partners, and congratulations to everyone who finished the Challenge! And a special shout-out to René Simakaski, Audrianna Barone and Callum McGregor for completing all of the activities. Well done! 

Here's some of their noteworthy work:

"Freedom and Unity" by Vivienne Boyle - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • "Freedom and Unity" by Vivienne Boyle

# 11 Organize Support

I'm not 14 years old — the age you need to be to post on Front Porch Forum — so I had my father post this:

"Help support the Peacham fire department by going to the Peacham farmers market to get T-shirts! They are $20 each and all profits go to the Peacham fire department to help them buy new equipment."

Then I helped sell T-shirts at the Farmers Market.

René Simakaski, Groton

Callum McGregor at the Statehouse - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Callum McGregor at the Statehouse

#15 Visit the Capitol

We had a lot of fun on a guided tour and Aidan is now inspired to be a legislative page. We found the places where our current representatives sat in the last session. Lt. Gov.Molly Gray's assistant gave us a personal tour of her office.

Isaac and Aidan Williamson, Burlington

We saw the capitol, watched a news reporter reporting on the news in front of the capitol (#21) and met a candidate trying to get signatures to be on the ballot (#18). At home we followed the story and saw the candidate's name appear on the ballot.

Cosimo Franklin, Lyndon Center

Riley Foley with his Good Citizen scorecard - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Riley Foley with his Good Citizen scorecard

#19 Deed Search

I went to Charlotte Town Hall and the clerk there, Emily, showed me how to look up the warranty deed on our house. She also showed me the maps of the town and I found our property.

Arthur Edwards, Charlotte

My dad and I searched for the deed of our land. Our town clerk helped us. It was cool to see the vault in the town hall.

Silvia Ernlandt, Morristown

#17 Explain the Motto

I drew four girls from different backgrounds looking at an American flag by the Green Mountains. They are arm-in-arm to express unity.

Vivienne Boyle, Waterbury

Vivienne Boyle with her completed Good Citizen scorecard - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Vivienne Boyle with her completed Good Citizen scorecard

#22 Read a Newspaper

I read the Manchester Journal. I learned about the new principal at my school and how he came to Vermont after he traveled around the world.

Cate Hjelt, Manchester Center

I read the Valley Reporter and I read about how people make trails. I found it surprising that you have to plan out and model the trail before you make it or you could make a mistake and the trail will be pointless.

Beckett Loveless, Moretown

#4 What's in a Name?

I learned about Anderson Field in Waterbury. I went to the library to get a book about the places in Waterbury and learned that the park was named after Mr. Anderson, who helped in the development and improvement of the park before he died.

Andy Titus, Waterbury

Josie Boyle's American Girl doll - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Josie Boyle's American Girl doll

#9 Act Locally

I volunteered at the Johnson Community Food Shelf for three hours. I helped to fill boxes of food by following a list of what families of two or four get for canned goods and nonperishables.

Sydney Hanlon, Johnson

#18 Consider the Candidates

I watched the Democratic Primary Congressional candidates' debate hosted by NBC5. I found it quite interesting.

August Simakaski, Groton

#6 Future History

I chose my American Girl doll to go in a future history museum. I had fun making an index card label: "American Girl Doll: Josephina. A popular toy in 2019-2024. Kids play with this doll as a friend. Sometimes they go to the doctor's office. She loves sleepovers and getting her hair done."

Josie Boyle, Waterbury

Grand Prize Winner!

Cate Hjelt - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Cate Hjelt

Cate Hjelt of Manchester won the Grand Prize trip to Washington, D.C., donated by Milne Travel. Hjelt also wins a new globe and a $100 gift card to Phoenix Books. She and her family weren't able to attend the Statehouse reception but found out the next day.

"I was really shocked when I heard that I won," Cate said. "I am so excited to go to Washington, D.C.! I want to see the White House and the Washington Monument. I have seen Hamilton, and I want to see if there is a sign about Eliza Schuyler Hamilton helping to build the monument."

All winners received a $100 gift certificate to Phoenix Books, as well as other prizes.

Find out about our next Good Citizen Challenge by signing up for email alerts at goodcitizenvt.com.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Celebrating Civics"