More than 90 fourth- through 12th-grade students from the West Valley School District will visit Eastern Washington University Friday, Feb. 9, to discuss civic education. The ninth annual Civics Conference is a partnership between the faculty, administration and students of EWU and WVSD, where students will be offered workshop presentations, listen to keynote speakers and interact with Washington Supreme Court Justice Debra Stephens.
Students will have the opportunity to tour the campus, take pictures with Swoop and participate in a Q&A with Justice Stephens.
“I think it’s a really nice thing for them to get the chance to talk with Justice Stephens, and she’s a really effective speaker for kids of any age,” said James Rosenzweig, education librarian for EWU Libraries. “She’s a graduate of the West Valley schools, and she feels very passionate about young people growing up where she did knowing that they can do anything, be anything.”
Each year, the conference has a central topic, with this year’s being, “When Is Conflict Productive and Necessary?” Students will then break off into groups with professors to further discuss different aspects of the topic.
“In our conversations, we discussed quite a bit and realized that one of the things that’s important about growing up to be a citizen and an adult in society is how to have a constructive disagreement with someone,” Rosenzweig said.
As the conference continues to see a positive reaction from students, the partnership aims to increase involvement from different departments on campus.
“This year especially, we’ve been successful in reaching out to people who’ve never been involved with the event before to try and build a coalition of folks here who want to work together to see this thing succeed,” said Rosenzweig. “And we’re seeing people step up with time and with financial support to make sure that the event can continue.”
The partnership meets in the fall to discuss potential topics for the conference, and how they can provide something for the students to take home and put into action. They invite anyone interested in participating to be a part of the event.
“It’s about trying to figure out how to make sure that every student goes home feeling like they can be more engaged in their community,” said Rosenzweig. “So if there are people who think they’d love to contribute to that and help make that possible, we’re always looking for more people.”