Gov. M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service at UHart Announces Winners of Inaugural Civility Awards

March 11, 2022
Sixth-Grade Students and High School Club Members Recognized for Projects
That Promote Integrity, Civility, and Respect

A classroom of Hamden sixth graders and members of a Farmington High School Political Action Club are this year’s recipients of the inaugural Governor M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service Civility Awards. Located at the University of Hartford, the Rell Center created the awards to raise the bar for civil discourse in American society and to highlight the ways that teachers, schools, and school groups can teach or coach others to positively spread civility, respect, and collaboration.

Changing the World Through Spoken Word Poetry was the winning K–8 division entry submitted by Mary Nelson’s sixth-grade class at Spring Glen Elementary School. Students were asked what they would like to change in the world. After a few poetic lessons and several sessions of watching other students perform slam poetry, students went off to write. Students were not censored and had very few boundaries. Students wrote about racism, gun violence, religious tolerance, immigration, and LGBTQ issues and presented them at the 2019 Dismantling Systemic Racism Conference in Hartford. They plan to use the $100 that comes with the award to help fund a poetry slam for the entire Hamden school district this spring.

The Farmington High School Political Action Club was the winner in the high school and university division for encouraging students to become more involved in politics through hosting and moderating debates that emphasize a non-partisan and civil approach to political discourse. The Club was recognized for its ability to demonstrate that local and state politics are critically important to building a resilient democracy in its efforts to instill civic-minded participation in students. The Club plans to use its $100 award to host candidate debates.

Former Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Rell Center Director Katharine Owens said they applaud the work of both winning entries. “Their work supports and brings to life the characteristics of civility, respect, and collaboration—which are so important to all of us here at the M. Jodi Rell Center,” they said.

The mission of the Governor M. Jodi Rell Center for Public Service at UHart is to provide a community and academic forum for the discussion of ethics in government, the importance of civil discourse in politics, and citizen involvement in public service and government. The Center also seeks to encourage students and others to pursue careers in public service and to assist in providing a clearinghouse for students to participate in public service internships.


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