Some local students are getting high marks in civics class, and they can call themselves the best in Wisconsin.
Their accomplishments have earned recognition from the Glendale School Board, Glendale city leaders, and state Sen. Lena Taylor.
Glen Hills Middle School teacher Lalitha Murali is proud of her students. They won the state championship for "We the People" Project Citizen. The program is sponsored by the Center for Civic Education. Her 7th grade class looked at how public spaces could be used to help the community.
"Every year we brainstorm and they have to come up with a problem in the community or in the school. They have to come up with solutions and they present it to the local government then we go to the state competition," Murali said.
Students discovered more than 10 "brownfields" and "greyfields" close to their school in Glendale. Brownfields are contaminated sites not in use. Greyfields are abandoned buildings.
The students did five months of research for their project entitled, “Without Blight, Future is Bright."
One solution the students offered was to turn "Kletzsch Perk" into a center where youth can gather and get a snack. "Kletzsch Perk" is an old gas station that was converted into a coffee shop.
Students took their proposal to Glendale city leaders who welcomed the idea.
"I feel like the coolest part was being able to talk to people like the superintendent and the mayor and have them listen to our ideas like we're equals," said 13-year-old Aneliese Kennedy.
"It's really exciting! It's powerful to see how young people like me can have an impact in our community. It just shows anyone can do anything to help their community," said 13-year-old Joyce Essuman.
"That is the thing that makes me proud to be a teacher, these kids have learned a very valuable lesson, even as 12-year-olds they can make a change in the community," Murali said.
The Glen Hills students are now on their way to the nationals.