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Molly ShoreBurbank middle school students are finding...

Molly Shore

Burbank middle school students are finding out they have a voice in

the democratic process.

Through Project Citizen Showcase, a program sponsored by


Calabasas-based Center for Civic Education, the students have spend

the past three weeks learning how to articulate that voice.

At the district’s second annual showcase event Friday at Luther

Burbank Middle School, more than 100 children from Luther Burbank and


Jordan middle schools identified community problems and presented

action plans based on research.

Dedy Fauntleroy’s sixth-grade class at Jordan Middle School

tackled the issue of teacher layoffs. The students were upset

because their teacher was one of those affected.

“She’s a good teacher,” said 12-year-old David Akiskalian. “She’s

not strict, she’s very nice and she has a good sense of humor.”

Fauntleroy’s layoff notice was eventually rescinded, but David


said he and his classmates were still concerned about the teachers

who are losing their jobs.

David and his classmates offered several solutions, including

asking local businesses such as McDonald’s, Staples and Trader Joe’s

for donations, and writing letters to the governor and state


The annual program encourages students to become involved in their

school or community, and to interact with their local governments,


said Pam Allender, the district’s literacy resource teacher.

Last year, when Josephine Tidalgo’s eighth-grade students at

Luther Burbank Middle School focused on inadequate street lighting in

their neighborhood, they contacted the city’s public works

department, and got improved lighting.

“It’s pretty empowering when they see that something changes,”

Allender said.

John Hale, associate director of the Center for Civic Education,

said that the program encourages students to engage in thinking about

real problems.

“It gives them a practical introduction to the principles and

activities that an effective citizen has to master,” Hale said.