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Lake Bluff Middle School's Project Citizen Gains Best in State

Marsha Crall's eighth-grade class's 'Dangerous Intersection' project advances to the national showcase.

eighth-grade Project Citizen presentation, “Dangerous Intersection,” is on the road again.

After coming out on top of all Illinois schools at the state level, the portfolio and presentation board has advanced to the national showcase at the Center for Civic Education’s Project Citizen National Showcase in Los Angeles, according to Lake Bluff Middle School social studies teacher Marsha Crall, who advised the students.

Students presented the project, discussing the need for a blinking light at the intersection of Scranton Avenue and Sheridan Road in downtown Lake Bluff, at a school hearing in February and at a .  The youngsters then presented the project to Congressional District 10 at the College of Lake County in May.

Jessica Chetnik, director of elementary and middle school programs at the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, said the national showcase takes place June 23-24 and rankings likely will be announced in early July.

The projects are ranked into four different categories: superior, excellent, outstanding and honorable mention. Winners receive a certificate and ribbon, Chetnik said.

The “Dangerous Intersection” project was one of six projects created by six eighth-grade classes at Lake Bluff Middle School, Crall said.

Kelly Dolan, a student in the class with the winning project, suggested the idea because her brother, Jimmy, was hit by a car and injured at the intersection.

“A lot of the kids said ‘Yeah, I’ve been at that intersection, I cross 2-3 times a day and I feel nervous because the cars come so fast and they don’t see me,’ ” Crall said. “It resonated with them.”

At the Village Board meeting presentation, students suggested installing a blinking light at an estimated cost of $105,000 to $120,000. The Illinois Department of Transportation could consider the project if it finishes well at nationals, Crall said.

Crall said it was incredible to see the students' effort put into the project pay off.

She said the most important lesson from the project was “the whole experience of seeing it move from a class level to the Village Board hearing to Congressional District 10, and seeing public policy in action. It was very hands-on and experiential, and they learned a lot about teamwork.”

She remembers eight-grader Grace Royster saying, “ ‘We worked hard but it didn’t feel like work, it was fun.’ ”

Crall said the students perfected the portfolio and presentation board before it went to the state showcase. “They really worked hard at the board, and I think it will make a difference at nationals,” she said.

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