The Oak Lawn Community High School social studies department is committed to developing knowledgeable, skilled, and concerned citizens of our community and the world. One of its missions is to foster the awareness and desire to ensure effective participation in our democratic society. Each year the U.S. government classes at Oak Lawn Community High School must fulfill the requirement of a service-learning project. The students take an informed action-stance upon learning certain course content.
This year, to honor Veterans Day, U.S. government teachers Steve Long and Ben Reiff developed an activity that required students to advocate for policy change at the highest levels of government. Steve and Ben created a lesson in which students were given current issues affecting veterans today and asked to research these topics to investigate the treatment of American veterans and write letters to our congressional representatives to ensure veterans are supported.
Students used historical thinking skills to source and summarize articles, determine the main issue veterans are facing, cite key information from articles to support their findings, and take action as to how our government can solve the issues. Many students wrote letters to Senator Tammy Duckworth on the issue of veteran suicide rates and included specific solutions they would like to see happen. Senator Duckworth responded back to several students with bills that she has previously voted on to help veterans, as well as co-sponsoring S. Res. 754 which would establish National Warrior Call Day. This would encourage communities and Americans to connect with veterans and offer them what they need.
U.S. Government teachers Steve Long, Ben Reiff, and Phil McGee continue to lead the way for their students to experience what it means to be active participants in a democratic society.