Issue Fair Challenges Students To Become Active Citizens


Brayden Korman

Junior Jewels Thomas presents her Issue Investigation topic to Social Studies teacher Chris Benes.

The 6th annual Wauwatosa West Issue Fair will take place at Wauwatosa West High School on Thursday, May 31st from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm.  Approximately, 150 juniors enrolled in the required American Public Policy will present their research to over 50 community adult judges.  

“We want students to learn to be active citizens and learn how they can play a role about bringing change one person can educate others about and issue and influence elected officials to act.” said Social Studies teacher Chris Benes.

At the Issue Fair, 11th grade students enrolled in the required American Public Policy class present their culminating research project known as the Issue Investigation.  The Issue Investigation research paper requires students to identify and investigate a problem facing society that can be solved by the establishment of public policy at any level of government.

At the Issue Fair, students will display, present and discuss a portfolio of information documenting their research.  Each portfolio contains an explanation of the problem, alternatives to the problem, the students’ proposed public policy solution as well as the steps a citizen can take to get their public policy enacted.

For some students, presenting the information to unfamiliar adults is a challenge.  

“Presenting in front of people can be intimidating.  I am nervous all the time and I am nervous to present in front of people.”  said Junior Jewels Thomas

Students are required to present their research in class before presenting at the Issue Fair.  This process is intended to help students prepare for the public presentation.

“Presenting in front of Mr. Benes helped. He timed me and told me what they are looking for and asked me questions like they would so I feel like it prepared me a little bit more.” said Thomas.

Social Studies Stephen Oliver believes the Issue Investigation and Issue Fair will help students be active citizens when they leave high school.  

“When students come across an issue in the world out of High School they need to learn how to confront it, who to contact, and what levels of government is involved so they can bring about a change as being an active citizen.” said Social Studies teacher Stephen Oliver.

The semester long research paper and final presentation is not easy and is challenging experience for many students.

“The biggest challenges for students in completing this project is helping them stay organized and on task. We have due dates for each sections, but students let them pass because of other classes or other issues.” said Benes.

Students also have to keep up with other classes which can cause students to fall behind in American Public Policy and other classes.

“This project is hard because of all the research you have to do and all the information you have to gather about your topic and become an “expert” on your topic and teach others. It was hard to keep up with the due dates because of other classes I have essays for at the same time as the issue investigation fair.” said junior Michaela Alioto

Teachers hope the process will help students learn about a topic and encourage them to be active citizens.  

“I guess the Issue Fair is a good idea and it helped me learn about the topic.” said Thomas.