Giving a Helping Hand in Government Class This Year


Jasmine Beverly

Senior Zoe Lowe and government teacher Ms. Newman discuss Zoe’s community service project and her upcoming interview.

This year, all of Liberty’s government classes introduce a new way for students to get a taste of community service. Mr. Patterson, Ms. Newman, and Mr. Otto now give their 12th grade students the choice whether to write a term paper, a ten page research essay, or not. If students choose not to do a term paper, the alternative assignment is to do a certain amount of civic duty. The class government itself does not require an SOL, so instead of writing the term paper students are offered this option, which is new to Liberty.

“I like not having to write a term paper because it is longer and is more exhausting than just writing about community service,” said senior government student Dylan Huggins.

“Government is not a SOL tested course.  The county has long required that all seniors complete a term paper in the past at all three high schools.  As the state has made changes to graduation requirements with the 5 Cs (which includes a “Citizenship” requirement), the county has asked Government teachers to encourage our students to learn to become productive citizens in our local community. For the last three years, the LHS government teachers have been working on Civic Participation with the requirement that students earn 5 credits total during their term that they are taking government,” said Mr.Patterson. 

 Acts of Civic Participation include, but are not limited to: voting, registering to vote, writing a letter to a politician, attending local meetings, creating care packages, donating blood, working school sporting events, and serving the community in a variety of volunteer opportunities. Every teacher has requirements that are different for the new project, but each teacher adds their own twist to spice it up as well.

“Over summer break, Ms. Crocker, Dr. Acors, and I discussed ideas to develop alternatives for the term paper requirement for students. Since the first day of school, students have been provided with three different opportunities;  1) find volunteer needs in the community through the PATH Foundation and write a reflection paper,  2) plan out a service learning project which is completed during the term and write a reflection paper,  3) write a letter to a member of Congress or other elected office.  

Students have the option to determine which option best fits their interest and voice.  If students do not decide to complete one of these opportunities than they ultimately will end up writing a term paper which is the fourth option,” said Patterson.

On behalf of for Mr. Patterson’s AP Government students, many have embraced the opportunity to do something different and have a positive impact on their community. 9 of 26 students have stepped up to volunteer and/or develop a service learning project. 

Hannah Hall-Salem has been working with Champions Together which helps our students with disabilities at LHS.  To help keep things organized, coaches hold Champions Together on Wednesdays at twelve thirty during one lunch. This helps the students stick to the same schedule each week. The new one lunch program has also made a huge impact on student participation. This year they built bocce courts to allow the students an accurate representation of how to play the game.  Now having the courts they are able to practice their basketball skills, track skills and bocce skills. Their goal is to compete in the area 27 state games for the Special Olympics in the future. Champions Together is very respected through the school and the students at Liberty are extremely accepting of each other. 

“I chose to use Champions Together for my project because it does not get the attention it deserves, many kids do not realize how important an inclusive environment is for those with disabilities. Just a simple hello everyday in the hallway can make such a big difference in a child’s life, and without Champions Together many kids at Liberty would not know the names of those kids in the ID program,” said senior government student Hannah Hall-Salem. 

Sidney Lewis, Chaeli Brooks and Jacqueline Aragon are working under the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation (NPCF). They decided to help through this organization because they love to be involved with medical and child based organizations. They are trying to raise awareness for the organization and create care packages to deliver to NPCF for families in need.

Candace Miller and Austin Harris are working with the SPCA in Fauquier County. 

Overall, many seniors are participating and helping the local community.