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Super Citizen Returns: Sponsors help maintain popular civics curriculum

The Liberty Learning Foundation Super Citizen Program will be in Demopolis at Westside Elementary School and U.S. Jones Elementary School from Feb. 20 through May 15. Second-graders and fifth-graders will learn important civics lessons and vote on a local hero.

A total of 425 students from both grades will participate in the 10-week program for about an hour each week learning lessons that coincide with their school’s current civics curriculum.

Barbie Sumner, who is Director of Public Affairs for the foundation, said that the students would learn about things like monuments, veterans and the American flag.

“Demopolis has done this for several years now and has always enjoyed it and ask that we come back. We’re excited to be in Demopolis again,” Sumner said.

As part of the program, students will form Torch Teams, and each team will choose a local hero to be recognized. At the end the program, each class votes on a hero to be honored.

“It’s been really neat to see who these classrooms honor,” Sumner said.

According to Sumner, past classes have chosen custodians, sports coaches and doctors as heroes. Sumner described one instance where a custodian who was honored was so inspired that he went back to school to earn a teaching degree.

Phillip Spence, Post Surgeon for Veterans of Foreign War Post 5377 who was selected as a hero two years ago, said that the program promotes the things that VFW stands for such as “Americanism, good citizenship and patriotism amongst our young people.”

“This teaches them that in order to have the type of nation that we have with such a melody of people, we have to learn to be patient with each other and tolerant of each other. But we also have to stand strong and hold on to those liberties and principals that we have,” he said.

Sumner also said that community alliances make a big difference in the students’ takeaway from the program.

“Without community support, we’ve seen that it doesn’t have the impact that it would.”

The impact of the program on the students is important to the foundation because, as Sumner put it, “They are our next generation of great Americans.”

Sumner said that she’s seen a “great, great response” form the students, who take a test at the beginning and end of the program and have an average score increase of 35 percent between the two tests.

“We love Demopolis. It’s one of our favorite places to visit. They just really love our program, and seeing their enthusiasm really inspires us,” Sumner said.

VFW Post 5377 and VFW Auxiliary Post 5377 each donated $1,000. Other sponsors are Demopolis City Council, Trustmark Bank, International Paper, Demopolis Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club of Demopolis.

Sumner encouraged community members to like their Facebook page called “Liberty Learning Foundation” and spread the news.

Members of the community are encouraged to get involved in any way, though financial support is most needed right now as the cost to bring the program to Demopolis is $26,000. Community members can donate and learn more about volunteer opportunities online.

For more information about how to get involved, visit liberylearning.org or contact getinvolved@libertylearning.org or 1-800-239-0005.

(This article originally published in the Saturday, Jan. 20, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)