OLD IRVING PARK — A Northwest Side high school is looking for mentors to help students better understand civic engagement and community building.
Disney II Magnet’s high school mentorship program for eighth graders is designed to create opportunities for teens to interact and learn from community members and policymakers through project-based learning.
As part of the program, the school at 3900 N. Lawndale Ave. wants volunteers of all backgrounds, neighborhoods and careers to participate in conversations about civic responsibilities, rights and building community, civics teacher Patrick Kelly said.
Students will take part in the semester-long project by researching and bringing awareness to a specific civics topic that has importance to them and their community, Kelly said. The project will culminate with a student presentation to a community mentor panel and participation in a Civics Night exhibition where they’ll display their research.
“Teens today are more aware of social issues and civic injustices through the exposure of news, social media and literacy,” Kelly said. “The goal of the mentoring program is to create opportunities for teens to interact, ask questions and receive feedback authentically from diverse community members and policymakers.”
People interested in being mentors need to complete a Chicago Public Schools volunteer clearance application and sign up online. They will work with groups of five to seven students to create a presentation on a civics matter virtually or in person for Kelly’s class, according to the program website.
The presentations are scheduled for 9:30-10:30 a.m. or 2:30-3:30 p.m. Oct. 20 and Oct 21, Kelly said.
Student groups will pick from a variety of civic topics such as environmental and sustainability issues, urban planning and transportation, racial and economic equality, public health, LGBTQ rights and more.
In past years, projects have focused on the benefits of a bilingual education, how environmental racism affects communities, the importance of safe drinking water and the benefits of SNAP and how the program supports families, Kelly said.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: