Lynn Hosts Second Annual South Florida Civility Summit
Project Civitas, Lynn’s student civility organization, recently hosted the second annual Civility Summit in the Henke Wing of the de Hoernle International Center to encourage the Lynn community and local schools to participate in acts of civility.
Project Civitas aims to promote civility in politics and public life through education inside and outside of the classroom. With students and representatives from seven schools, the event served as an opportunity for teens to increase their awareness of social issues. The summit began with an introduction from Dr. Robert Watson, distinguished professor of American Studies.
“At Lynn, we believe that being educated means more than knowing calculus or reading Shakespeare,” said Watson. “We believe that being educated also requires you to respect your elders, embrace tolerance and diversity and be a positive social change in the community.”
The event proceeded with a 30-minute presentation by students from the Watson Institute and Saint Andrews School. Each student discussed the ways that he or she is advocating for different social changes, such as creating news content for the youth, developing an environmental awareness and sustainability program and increasing employment in West African countries.
Special Guest Nancy Gilbert, U.S. Consul to New Zealand, spoke about the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and discussed how a group of six students took the initiative of helping their local community by shoveling solidified magma and delivering water cases to residents of the affected area. This group of students created the Student Volunteer Army.
“Today, the Student Volunteer Army is the largest student organization at the University of Canterbury with more than 50,000 active members,” said Gilbert. “How good [your organization is] is not just about what you’re doing today, but also about what comes after you pass the torch to the next generation.”
Keynote speaker Phil Kaye, poet and storyteller from Project VOICE, performed a few of his poems and shared how he uses the spoken word to entertain, educate and empower others. With his poetry, Kaye encouraged students to collaborate and engage with their communities.
“Getting people to listen to what you have to say involves knowing your audience, respecting your audience, and keeping true to yourself,” said Kaye. “If you only tell [your audience] what you think they want to hear, it gets very boring.”
The concluding portion of the civility summit consisted of a collaboration session with teams and a ‘Shark Tank’ competition between all attending schools. Each group was responsible for formulating an action plan to target a social issue at their school and pitching their ideas to a line of four judges, all of whom provided feedback. A few of the students’ ideas for social change included raising mental health awareness, reducing plastic use and establishing solar powered charging stations; Grand View Preparatory High School’s team won the competition.
Members of the Lynn community are encouraged to promote civility by cooperating with others and rais ing awareness on social issues to achieve social and political changes.