As part of the Big Walnut High School senior government curriculum, Social Studies teacher Charlie Rowley has his students do a government-related research project on an area of personal interest.
The only requirement in selecting a topic was that it had to be centered on a government idea, concept, or action. Students created an essential question to focus and guide their research. The project included the topic and question, bibliography of sources, at least three annotated resources for research, a short discovery essay, and a product for a formal presentation.
Rowley’s approximately 100 students from four senior government classes completed the project and were graded, a typical high school procedure. What Rowley did next was not so typical; in fact, it was a Big Walnut High School first. He chose 11 finalists from among the best projects and had the students present their efforts during the inaugural Big Walnut High School Government Fair last Thursday evening.
The finalists were Meredith Davis, Nick Dimitroff, Nicole Sena, Taylor McCoy, Jessica Colleta, Alyssa Zumpone, Matthew McFarling, Nick Schultz, Caroline Craig-Bowden, Anna Vrancken, and Mariah Chattos.
Invited for the evening to serve as judges were members of the Big Walnut community with political backgrounds. Judges rotated among the student displays – some students used PowerPoint, some used display boards – where they viewed the projects, listened to each student’s verbal presentation, and had opportunities to ask questions.
“One thing we’re doing is, we know these students are going on to college where they will be required to both research topics and make presentations to defend their research,” Rowley said. “This is a way to empower their research skills as they move forward with their education.”
Near the end of the hour and a half competition judges asked final questions and then rated each of the 11 senior government projects from 1-to-10. The scores were tabulated, averaged, and a winner and second- and third-runners-up were announced.
Taylor McCoy, who researched Doctor-Assisted Death, placed first; in second place was Alyssa Zumpone, who researched Supreme Court Precedents; and in third place was Nicole Sena, who researched Voter Turnout.
In presenting the first place wall plaque, district superintendent Angie Pollock said competing to become a Big Walnut High School Government Fair Finalist encouraged all of the senior Social Studies students to collaborate with each other, create presentations to display their research, and to develop critical-thinking skills.
Judges who volunteered to serve during the inaugural Big Walnut High School Government Fair were: Pollock, Delaware County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Dave Snyder (Big Walnut School Resource Officer), Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield, Galena Mayor Tom Hopper, BWLS Instruction and Innovation Coordinator Jennifer Wilson, BW Board of Education member Andy Wecker, Village of Galena Administrator Jeanna Burrell, Big Walnut Grill General Manager Susan Leese, Delaware County Communications and Employee Relations Manager Jane Hawes, BWLS Director of Student Services Laura Lawrence, State Representative-Elect 68th House District Rick Carfagna, BWHS Athletic Director Brian Shelton, Delaware County Economic Development Director Bob Lamb, district assistant superintendent Mark Cooper, BWHS Assistant Principal James Hall, and Constituent Services Representative for Congressman Pat Tiberi Joe Stefanov.
“We would like to give a special thank you to all the judges who came in to help judge our government fair,” Rowley said. “Their participation and feedback made the evening especially meaningful for the 11 finalists.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.