We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

HOPE for our future! Encouraging! OUTstanding young adults!

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John Eyster
Sunday, March 17, 2013

HOPE for our future! Encouraging! OUTstanding young adults!

Reflecting on the fact that the 41st WASHINGTON SEMINAR field study group just returned from Washington, DC, my work with Wisconsin Academic Decathlon state competition at the end of last week and my anticpation of being in Washington, DC with the 4th annual Discovering Democracy field study from Milton High School, I have a soaring reassurance of our FUTURE! What do YOU think?

On Saturday, March 9, I read with special interest and appreciation the Janesville Gazette’s article, “Janesville students arrive in D.C. today for Washington Seminar” reporting on the 41st annual field study of Washington Seminar. The article focused on the historic first with a set of triplets – Molly, Ellen and Andrew Reid – on the 2013 field study. The article was complemented by a list of the 53 Craig and Parker students participating on the field study with their significant public policy issues.

The focus of the field study is academic research. Seminar Q&A sessions were planned with Senators Baldwin and Johnson as well as Representatives Pocan and Ryan. The group met with Craig Gilbert, the Washington Bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal.

I count Gilbert one of my favorite journalists as I always read his “The Wisconsin Voter” columns which build on solid data and provide insightful interpretation. When teaching my political science courses, I always assigned the “The Wisconsin Voter” columns to my students because of the credibility with meaningful interpretation. I encourage you to take a look at Gilbert’s “The Wisconsin Voter” columns. You can use this link for access, “The Wisconsin Voter.”

I KNOW from my own networking with alumni of WASHINGTON SEMINAR that this is a significant life experiences for participants which engender healthy citizenship in our republics.

Now, this morning, I am just home from the 30th annual Wisconsin Academic Decathlon competition. With 20 teams having 180 participants who won their REGIONAL competitions at state, we had a lively time at Glacier Canyon Conference Center at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

If you want more information about the preparations for the state competition, you can use this link to the press release about regionals and state competition, “Wisconsin Academic Decathlon.”

The scoring results from the 2013 state competition are not yet posted online, if you are interested, you can use this link, “State Competition” – scroll down to see scores. You can enjoy the pictures of the teams participating in last week’s state competition NOW. Typical high school pics with a lot of FUN!

This coming Tuesday, March 19, the 4th annual DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY field study group will leave via Van Galder bus for an overnight ride to our nation’s capital. There are 42 students supported by their founder/director, VAL CROFTS, AP US Government & Politics teacher at Milton HS and 5 staffers on this year’s field study. The staff members are: John Holt - Network Supervisor - School District of Milton - Asst. Director, Discovering Democracy - 4th year on staff; Dan Mayer - English teacher - Milton HS - 2nd year on staff; Renee Stieve - Social Studies teacher - Milton HS -2nd year on staff; Jennifer Williams - Office Secretary - Milton HS - 2nd year on staff; and Jim Martin - School Liaison Officer - Milton HS - 1st year on staff.

I was THRILLED when Val Crofts, my former student and an alumnus of WS ’89 (that’s 24 years ago already), invited me to experience his DD IV on field study. Yes, I am traveling to DC next Tuesday! I plan to report about DD IV’s field study day-by-day on my WE THE PEOPLE blog. You are welcome to read my blog and post your comments using this link, “We the People.”

VAL CROFTS developed his field study program on the basis of his own personal experience on WASHINGTON SEMINAR and has ENRICHED the whole field study with his creativity and networking. The field study group will engage in Question & Answer sessions with local representatives in our Congress, including: Senators Baldwin and Johnson and Representatives Pocan and Ryan. Each student will conduct interviews with other members and staff on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch as well as special interest groups.

VAL has enriched the DD field study with culture experiences, including: “The Capitol Steps” political satire group – the group will meet with the troupe after the show on Saturday night (3/23); “Hello, Dolly!” at Ford’s Theatre – the place where US President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday (April 14)1865; Tour with formal dinner at Mount Vernon – the home of US President George Washington.

After a visit with VAL CROFTS’ interpretative tour at the historic site of the “Battle of Antietam” (fought on Wednesday, September 17, 1862, the first major battle of the Civil War fought on Union soil – it was the bloodiest battle in American history with 22, 717 dead, wounded and missing on both sides combined, DD VI will continue their long bus trip home to Milton, WI.

If you want to read the full article published online last Wednesday, March 13 by the Milton Courier, use this link, "Students heading to nation's capital."

I know how very satisfying and fulfilling a field study experience in our nation’s capital can be on the basis of my 30 field study experiences with WASHINGTON SEMINAR (1973 - 2002). NOW I anticipate that this field study experience for the DD IV students with their staff as well as for me will be a real inspiration and source of commitment for our FUTURE. I know that such a field study experience results in citizens who are MORE informed, involved with commitment and resolved to build a BETTER future.

So, this morning, I am again thinking about the report of Ben Franklin looking at the “rising sun armchair used by George Washington as president of the convention. (If you want to see pictures of this chair – use this link, “Rising sun armchair.”)

Day-by-day through the Federal Convention’s continuous sessions of that very hot summer 1787 in Philadelphia, PA, James Madison reports that Ben Franklin wondered whether that was a RISING or SETTING sun. After the constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, Franklin asserted that he KNEW it was a RISING SUN! We often wonder RISING or SETTING sun as we read through the media reports of all that is going on in our republics (WI and USA) as well as the whole wide world.

I will attest this morning that I am convinced that it is a RISING SUN! What do YOU think? RISING or SETTING?!

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 9:24 am Monday, April 29, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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