With constitution in place, students become citizens of Strattonville

CHAMPAIGN — When those who attend Stratton Leadership and Microsociety Magnet School showed up for school, they were students.

By about 1:15 Friday afternoon, they were citizens of Strattonville, after being sworn in by Champaign Mayor Don Gerard.

The Microsociety magnet school focus has them learning about society and democracy, and designing their own. And now, they have a document that governs their school.

"It puts order in our society," said fifth-grader Richard Goines, who was vice president of the constitutional convention.

"We won't just be, like, 'OK, you're president,'" said fourth-grader Daniel Bernstein, president of the constitutional convention. "It sets everything up."

The new citizens celebrated with the swearing-in (during which they recited their school pledge), a pledge from adults to support them and the school's show choir belting "This Land is Your Land" while parents, and school district and community leaders looked on. Along with Gerard, Champaign schools Superintendent Judy Wiegand and state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson spoke to students about leadership.

The constitution was ratified after students formed a constitutional convention to write it. Two-thirds of classrooms had to vote to approve it.

Seventeen did, said Principal Stephanie Eckels, more than enough to make it the school's governing document. Some classrooms did not, though, which means the school will start exploring the amendment process, which is outlined in the constitution.

Before that, though, the school will start tackling the election process — the constitution stipulates that the president, vice-president and "Chief Crime Stopper" will be elected by a majority vote of all students. Governors will be elected by the grade they serve, and the government's secretary and treasurer will be elected by the legislature.

Fifth-grader Michaela Patton, who was the constitutional convention's secretary, said she's glad to be a citizen.

"Because then, I'm going to have a chance to run for president, which I'm going to do," she said.

As students prepare their speeches and platforms for the election, they're also writing business plans and gearing up to become managers and bookkeepers at local ventures or businesses.

Anyone who wants to be a manager must take a management class, taught by Eckels, to learn about writing resumes and handling budgets and payroll. Those who want to be bookkeepers are taking a financial class, Eckels said.

Different ventures are advertising for managers using posters on the wall in a hallway.

The job descriptions aren't too different from those you might find in a classified ad: the TV station is looking for creative, innovative managers, and the warehouse manager needs to be organized.

Once managers are in place, they'll start recruiting employees, Eckels said. The school hopes to have its first market day in early April.

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45solte wrote on February 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I hope these children have mastery of core knowledge skills in the areas of math and reading.  That will do more to serve their future than anything else.  Apparently, though, the NG thinks that kind of opinion is out of line with their posting guidelines?   

ronaldo wrote on February 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm

This is a great thing for this class to do.  I'm very proud of them.  The logical next step, however, is to keep this constitution secretly guarded from the Obama administration or they'll likely chew this one up and spit it out, too.

Mark Taylor wrote on February 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm

That's right, Ronaldo. Our communist in chief never met a power he didn't want to grab. I'll bet he's got his minions in place brainwashing these kids as we speak. How many rights do we even have left, anymore? I personally feel like we're already living in the old Soviet Union. It's time to say dasvydonya to 0bama, right comrade?

champaignteacher wrote on February 27, 2012 at 11:02 am

This is an exciting time for children in Champaign. I believe the students will benefit greatly from the real life experience of becoming citizens, having jobs, paying taxes and learning about the laws of our land in a school setting.


Students will be participating in core curricular subjects (math, reading, writing, science, social studies) and will be able to transfer their learning to the Micro Society time.


I would invite community members to visit their local public school, speak to school staff or student's families before hastily judging programs and their value to our community.