In a series of high-level meetings at the Capitol today, students from Grass Valley Charter School delivered a clear and compelling message to state officials: Keep our Yuba River State Parks open!
After a tour of the historic Capitol building and its legislative chambers, the kids got to work – applying what they read about in textbooks to the real world of democratic decision-making. They met with State Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird under the gilded ceiling and hanging chandeliers of an historic 19th century hearing room.
Filling eight rows of old oak seats, the kids took turns coming to the front to make a series of well-rehearsed and moving presentations. Some made persuasive speeches; some recited poetry. “These parks are essential to our education,” said fifth-grader Kelly Muir.
One group presented a video, filmed at Yuba River State Park and edited by the kids. Five students even acted out a dramatic skit, imagining the semi-tragic consequences of a world without state parks. And some kids conducted television interviews in the hallways.
Many shared examples of how the school utilizes the state parks as outdoor classrooms.
“When I go there the trees and plants come alive,” said Devin Anderson, a fifth grader. “It’s where a kid can really learn about California during the Gold Rush.”
The students applauded Secretary Laird for his own personal commitment to California’s natural heritage. He, in turn, was clearly impressed and thanked the students for their work. “Democracy in action,” he called it in an interview after the meeting.
Representatives of local elected officials, Assemblyman Dan Logue and State Senator Ted Gaines, were nearly overwhelmed by the kids and the power of their heart-felt message. The legislative aides lauded their presentation skills, noting their professionalism and talent.
“You guys are making a difference.” Joanne Stacy, Logue’s legislative aide, told the kids.