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Fauntleroy’s layoff notice was eventually rescinded, but David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,”
John Hale, associate director of the Center for Civic Education,
said that the program encourages students to engage in thinking about
“It gives them a practical introduction to the principles and
activities that an effective citizen has to master,” Hale said.