CHARLESTON, W.Va. – As one of only a few states requiring a civics class before students can graduate from high school, the state is now moving to incorporate patriotism lessons within eighth grade history classes.
The move is a joint effort of the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia American Legion. The first offering is a TechSteps activity titled “Symbols of Significance,” designed to help students recognize why certain symbols are important to some.
“We need a resurgence of patriotism to keep alive the vision our forefathers had upon which our country was founded,” said Robert R. Post with the Frank B. Bartlett Post No. 7 of the American Legion. “We need to guarantee the continued remembrance and gratitude of freedom for all future generations.”
The program will use technology to link subject matter about American principles and ideals, patriotism and the American way of life to the classroom. Students will explore the important American principles expressed in symbols they choose to explore and create an electronic patriotic presentation using one of the following:
- The Great Seal of the United States
- The Great Seal of West Virginia
- The Seal of the United States Senate
- The emblem of the American Legion
- The one-dollar bill
- Or a national or state emblem they design themselves.
“Patriotism and an in-depth knowledge of democracy and what it means to be an American citizen are vitally important to our state and our nation,” said West Virginia Board of Education President Priscilla Haden. “Citizenship doesn’t work unless you know how to be a good citizen.”
Incorporating patriotism into the curriculum builds on West Virginia’s solid foundation promoting civics education. In recent years, West Virginia has been recognized as a leader for its effort to boost civics education in public schools. In 2007, the state was one of only 13 states to be named in a 2007 study about civics for creating officially sanctioned state commissions on civic education or civic literacy. West Virginia also was recognized in 2008 by the Campaign to Promote Civic Education Center for Civic Education for its efforts to boost civics education in public schools. In addition, the West Virginia Board of Education in 2007 added a non-voting student representative to meetings to spur student interest in government.
The West Virginia Board of Education in 2004 adopted a policy that now requires civic education and government for high school graduation. The board also revised West Virginia’s social studies content standards in 2005 to add personal finance to the civics classes. West Virginia’s Global21 initiative also puts a special emphasis on civic and economic literacy as well as critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills, global awareness and business literacy.
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.
--The West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) are committed to ensuring all students in the state are college and career ready when they graduate from a public school. What West Virginia students are learning in school exceeds national and international standards. Through the WVDE’s 21st century learning plan called “Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.,” West Virginia is seeing better student performance on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST2); the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams; the job skills assessment called Work Keys given to career and technical education students; and in a high school graduation rate that exceeds the national average.
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