Staff reporter 

Grassroots 'Civics,' the first-grade version

Michael Anderson Elementary students engage in a different kind of voting lesson at board meeting


Last updated 3/5/2020 at 10:03am

MEDICAL LAKE — Finding a way to engage First Graders in a subject many American adults have little clue about — Civics — took on a novel approach recently at Michael Anderson Elementary school at Fairchild Air Force Base.

Under the direction of teacher Erin Clark, students participated first in the selection of a topic on which to vote. Then they took on the referendum amongst the classes to decide on what would be the winner: socks or PB&J. This was all presented to the Medical Lake School Board at its Feb. 25 meeting.

However, a little context is required.

MAE classes first picked the issue of the homeless for a community service project and then determined their needs. In this case it was what might they need more, comforts like socks or nourishment from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

This project also entailed discussion on registering to vote and what the idea of the exercise itself meant.

The brainstorming discussion and debate centered on socks and that they could also be cut up and used as a blanket or mittens if necessary. But all the menial comforts of the world were maybe lost if a person was hungry. PB&J was the ultimate winner of the most necessary item, but just by a thread, 45-44 over socks.

While this brainchild was Clark’s, a family emergency intervened on the night of the presentation so the principal Darlene Starr pinch-hit with the board and administrators.

Starr said the discussion she observed while visiting the classrooms was very interesting for students so young.

But the exercise went beyond that as the classes collected donations that would allow making 1,250 PB&J sandwiches to distribute to charity.

“Not only did they learn a lot about civics, they learned about giving back to the community,” Starr said.

In the regular business portion of the meeting the board, minus Laura Parsons, approved the 2020-2021 school calendar sees schools opening on Aug. 26, ending June 10 with high school graduation on June 4.

Two versions of the calendar were presented to both certified and classified staff with 54 percent choosing the “early start” version over the alternative that ran from Sept. 2 through June 16. The accepted calendar had a strong approval preference from classified employees.

Director of finance Chad Moss reported on the midpoint of the school year with district enrollment minus 10 students. “It’s a good halfway point,” Moss said.

The next board meeting is March 24 at 6:30 p.m.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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