Macon County high school juniors and seniors, many of whom are fulfilling requirements for Bridge Builders Alabama, meet every other Thursday night at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 81 between Notasulga and Tuskegee. Auburn University undergraduates work alongside them, as they develop skills related to life, work, and college. The program is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Summer has ended, and school has begun. Students caught up with each other over dinner, and we were fortunate to have AU students Marian Royston, Kadedra Smith, and Judah Johnson back with us. AU student Beth Givens, a mentor from last year, helps coordinate details for our meetings. We welcomed new students who recently completed Bridge Builders Alabama junior conference, and we are proud to have them earn credits with us every other week.
Students completed questionnaires, designed to help us determine the topics we will cover over the course of the year. Several students need to pass some parts of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam, and all students plan to take the ACT. Following the questionnaire, students performed their own questionnaire on the college students, desiring information about their majors, hometowns, fun things to do in college, challenges in classes, etc. But college students enjoyed their own time interrogating high school students on a range of topics.
We viewed the excellent video documenting our students’ participation in the National Conference on Citizenship Civic Data Challenge, which features the music of student participant Yowseph Ziyad’s band Monsoon and an interview with Alexis Allen. The video tells the story of students choosing statistics related to civic health from the David Mathews Center for Civic Life’s Alabama Civic Health Index, and the development, design, printing, and placement of posters as civic health awards in Macon County. Thanks to AU landscape architecture professor Jocelyn Zanzot, local artist Dan Neil, and the Macon County Commission, a framed set of posters resides in the county courthouse, posters printed on handmade paper by students at Notasulga School.
We’re fortunate to be back in session, among students who care enough their future and the future of their hometown.