A pair of Zebulon Middle School teachers wanted to help students in an eighth-grade magnet elective class realize they have a voice in this country.
The students learned their teachers were right as a semester-long class project peaked Tuesday with their voices being heard by state legislators in Raleigh.
Social studies teacher Donnie Pearce and AIG teacher Linda Lloyd oversaw the assingment for the “In the News” elective class. The class consisted of 27 students who had to apply and file teacher recommendations to be considered for the course.
Their goal was to create a formal declaration calling for a convention of states to consider the adoption of a proposed 28th Amendment. The proposal basically says legislators must adhere equally to laws they create that apply to citizens.
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“Rather than just learn what was in the news, the idea was let’s make news,” Pearce said. “We sent out letters to about 70 mayors in North Carolina. We had several respond back to us.”
Among those that responded was the Town of Carrboro, which on May 13 approved a resolution supporting the students’ initiative.
“(Carrboro) requested us to write a resolution,” Pearce said. “Our students had never written a resolution before, so they did research on how do you write a resolution.”
In the process, the students landed the contact point that carried their voices to the General Assembly.
While requesting permission to sample portions of a similar resolution written by a woman in Georgia, the class was referred to Mike Faulkenberry, the N.C. director of the Convention of States project.
Conveying the message
Faulkenberry’s group advocates for states to call a convention of states, allowed by Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The convention of states would allow states to propose constitutional amendments that could limit the size, power and scope of the federal government.
“Their convention of states would be open for more amendments, so we’re different in that respect,” Pearce said. “But since we’re similar in calling for a convention of states, (Faulkenberry) volunteered to present this for us.”
Faulkenberry paid a visit to the Zebulon classroom Tuesday to commend the students on their efforts and pick up a copy of their declaration supporting the proposed 28th Amendment. He left the school and went straight to Raleigh, where he promised to put the declaration in the hands of N.C. Rep. Bert Jones.
“I was coming to Raleigh anyway, and it’s great to be able to combine the two (causes), but frankly I would have come just for (the student project),” Faulkenberry said. “It matters that much to me and I’m glad it matters that much to them. They put a lot of work and effort and time into this.”
Faulkenberry said it was refreshing to see students being active in the political process with an issue they see as important.
“This is one class, but there are classrooms like this all over the country,” he said. “So I’m really encouraged and really excited about what they’ve done. I hope there’s a way we can build on that and duplicate it in classrooms all over North Carolina and classrooms all over the country.”
A rewarding experience
Some of the students, like Hashim Ayesh, weren’t sure what they were getting into in the early steps of the project. Those feelings went away with time and progress.
“When (Pearce) explained it to us I liked it because I knew it was a good idea, because it’s my future and not just mine but everybody’s future,” Ayesh said. “Now we’ve got a town that’s listening to us.”
Ayesh’s classmate Josh Allmon considered it an honor Faulkenberry came to speak to the class and help relay its declaration.
“I think it’s great that a group of students with no voice in our government could be heard by people who represent us as a nation in really big programs,” Allmon said.
Pearce said the class has been the type that stays on task, needing little supervision.
“I needed really good dependable kids and that’s what we got, really the cream of the crop here,” he said.