Hunking Middle School was teeming with lawmakers, lawyers, jurors and witnesses last week.
Well, eight-grade students playing those roles anyway.
State Rep. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, stopped by the middle school Friday for a program aimed at teaching eighth-grade students about the democratic process. The freshman lawmaker’s district includes parts of Haverhill.
The civic education program covered the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. It is designed to educate students about what it means to be a citizen and how to participate in the democratic process, DiZoglio said.
Students had the opportunity to participate in mock legislative sessions and a judicial hearing with Michael Ryan of the state Office of Jury Commissioner.
“In a time with an ever-growing cynicism about government, this was a great opportunity for the students to learn that, at its core, our government is still for the people and by the people,” Hunking Principal Jared Fulgoni said. “One of our greatest charges as both a school and as a society is to educate our young citizens to sustain our democracy. The students got to not only learn about government, but actually got to participate in it and experience it in action.”
Eighth-grader Iyana White, who played a committee chairwoman in a mock legislative hearing, was impressed with DiZoglio and Ryan.
“They were like regular people,” she said. “I had never met a state politician before.”
“It was a very creative way of learning,” said Ryan Garrett, another eighth-grade student. “It wasn’t just facts. I actually had to do it myself. My friends were the lawyers, jurors and witnesses and it was really fun to learn about the judiciary courts this way.”
The school in the city’s Bradford section was DiZoglio’s for stop on her Civic Education Tour. The event was held in the gymnasium.