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South Country to offer Seal of Civic Readiness program

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Beginning in September, South Country Central School District students will have the unique opportunity to earn a prestigious New York State Education Department Seal of Civic Readiness on their diplomas.

The district is one of only a handful on Long Island to offer the new Civic Readiness pathway, an all-encompassing program that teaches students how to apply civic knowledge, skills and mindsets to make positive impacts in their school, community and the world. It also aims to strengthen relationships with community partners and civic leaders.

“Civic readiness has always been a critical goal of our school district,” said Jackie O’Hagan, director of humanities. “It was only natural that we would seek approval to participate in the Seal of Civic Readiness pilot program with the New York State Education Department.” O’Hagan is leading the project in South Country, along with Bellport High School social studies teacher Andrew Budris, who also serves on the NYSED Civic Readiness Task Force.

Prior to being accepted into the state’s civic readiness program, the district already boasted the robust Capstone Generation Citizen program at its middle school, led by teacher Megan Bevan; multiple Advanced Placement and honors social studies courses; and impressive high school-level electives that promote civic engagement.

To provide alternative pathways for students to earn a Civic Readiness seal, the district created a Civic Readiness Committee and will introduce new high school courses in the fall, including Facing History in Ourselves and the High School Capstone Project.

“It was very important to us to ensure that the program lends equity and that all students have access and the opportunity to earn the seal,” said O’Hagan.

Students begin the main pathway in the seventh grade by participating in the district’s Generation Citizen program. They earn the program’s requisite six points by completing civics-related activities, which include courses, electives and learning projects based on the curricular theme.

“We look forward to seeing what our students accomplish through this program,” added O’Hagan.
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