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City gets input from seventh-graders

After studying ancient China, seventh-graders from Lewis and Clark Middle School tried to apply what they had learned to modern America. To that end, they were visited by City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus to talk about how to grow a city, attract quality workers, and other problems cities face.

After studying ancient China, seventh-graders from Lewis and Clark Middle School tried to apply what they had learned to modern America. To that end, they were visited by City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus to talk about how to grow a city, attract quality workers, and other problems cities face. Photo by Julie Smith.

Judging by the questions a group of seventh-graders posed to a city leader Wednesday, it appears the students are interested in a more “Earth friendly” community — one where the arts are valued, crime is minimal, recreation flourishes and technology rules.

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Lewis and Clark Middle School seventh-grader Hunter Middleton asks a question of City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus during an assembly in the school’s gym. Nickolaus sought ideas from the students on how to improve the city.

The conversation, which took place between City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus and the seventh-grade class at Lewis and Clark Middle School, was the kickoff component of a project launched by a team of teachers at the school this week. The activity is a chance for students to take

lessons from their Ancient China study unit and apply them to modern life in Jefferson City. The lesson builds on the concept that China and America share similar values such as creativity and a strong work ethic.

Social studies and reading teacher Janice Delong said prior to Nickolaus’ visit, the students were asked to grapple with questions such as: What will make Jefferson City grow and thrive? What’s is it going to take to entice young adults move to the area?

City leaders, acknowledging that Jefferson City’s population is growing older and jobs are harder to find, put the project to the students to solicit their input and their aid. The “driving question” posed to students was: “What big ideas from ancient China can be used to help improve Jefferson City?”

Speaking to a packed audience, Nickolaus said, decades ago, city leaders would strive to bring a new factory to town and watch as the workers moved to be nearby. Young professionals today, he said, identify a place they’d love to live and then work to find a career that allows them to move there. Communities like Austin and Portland have experienced this.

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