By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward
When a ninth-grader suggested her AP U.S. Government class participate in the citywide “On the Table” discussions, teacher Scott Brown was pleased to offer the venue at Henry Clay High School.
“This is the genesis of the class – talking about how government shapes the things we do. And this year has generated a lot of talk about how we can make it better,” he said.
On the Table, held at various sites across Fayette County, was a community initiative to foster conversations about quality-of-life issues. It will help inform Imagine Lexington, the city’s comprehensive plan, as well as future priorities and the grant-making focus of the Blue Grass Community Foundation.
“I thought we could do this activity in class so everyone has a voice,” said Ya’el Brown, the freshman who organized it at Henry Clay. “It was a really cool idea, and it’s interesting to see everyone’s perspective on different issues. I need to hear others’ opinions.”
The class divided into three small groups and covered a wide range of topics, including diversity in schools, tax rates, and local infrastructure needs. Ingrid Cassel noted how neighborhoods often are disjointed and people act complacent until a specific issue like property crime brings them together.
Her group suggested a neighborhood newsletter could help residents feel more connected and invested in their community.
Classmate Bria Thompson found the exercise useful and thought-provoking.
“We’re full of ideas of how to make our community better and how to work together,” she said. Santiago O’Neil agreed, adding, “It engaged people to talk about a lot of issues that aren’t always high school material.”
Schools were encouraged to join in on March 15 so that the district’s voice is included and students know their voice matters. Along with Henry Clay, other host sites in Fayette County Public Schools were the STEAM Academy, Winburn Middle School, and Liberty, Maxwell, Northern, and William Wells Brown elementaries.
As Ya’el said, “We’re the next generation, and we’ll be making the next decisions to help shape what our country, our state, and our city are about.”
Tammy L. Lane is website editor for Fayette County Public Schools