UP to Laramie County Community College and ServeWyoming for their new partnership, which will help up to 20 students complete a service learning project at a local nonprofit starting this summer.

The goal is to connect students with opportunities to develop projects designed to use volunteerism as a solution to community-based problems. Those who participate in this new program will do so based on their area of academic interest and background.

ServeWyoming, a Casper-based nonprofit that runs the AmeriCorps program and other efforts to promote volunteerism and community service, will work with the college, through its new academic pathways, on pairing students with an industry mentor. They will then spend 10-20 hours working on and completing their projects.

We think this effort to show college students how their chosen career field can make a significant positive impact on their community is outstanding, and we can’t wait to see what these students accomplish.

UP to the SkillsUSA team at Cheyenne’s Central High School for being one of just 24 chapters in the country to be recognized with the Models of Excellence award.

Central’s team earned this national recognition for the service project it completed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make an emergency preparedness curriculum resonate with young people. But it also was an honor to have Daniel Norquist, deputy preparedness coordinator with FEMA Region 8, reach out to Central, seeking help with editing the education package.

The result is a course that Mr. Norquist expects FEMA will roll out nationally next year to students interested in a variety of career paths. But it also was a challenge that taught Central’s SkillsUSA team “soft skills” like professionalism, constructive criticism and a strong work ethic.

Achieving this honor means the SkillsUSA team will present its project at the national level this summer. But more important than the recognition, these students have gained skills they can use in any workplace in the future.

DOWN to Laramie County School District 1 leaders for bowing to a small amount of public pressure and suspending plans to conduct a student climate survey – at least for now.

District Diversity Facilitator Patti Paredes planned to administer the survey to students in grades 5-12 last week to test progress on addressing bigoted bullying since it was discovered at McCormick Junior High and other schools two years ago. However, a small group of parents objected to the survey offered by the Western Educational Equity Assistance Center at Metropolitan State University of Denver because they couldn’t see it in advance.

But it’s clear what’s really going on here. If you go to the WEEAC website, https://www.msudenver.edu/weeac/, you’ll find a “Black Lives Matter” statement from the center’s staff, which says, in part, “It is about creating a world in which Black people have a sense of safety, are treated with respect, can walk in dignity, can prosper, can be themselves, and can work, go to school, and live their lives free of racism, injustice, fear and denigration.”

Apparently, those who objected to the survey disagree with that statement, or else they believe what elected Republican leaders (including Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow) have been arguing recently – that everyone in academia is trying to force schools to teach Critical Race Theory. But we can’t find anything on the WEEAC website that says the organization advocates for any kind of curriculum.

District leaders say they still plan to conduct a survey of students at some point, and that’s good, because we agree with Superintendent Boyd Brown that such a survey is needed to determine whether the district’s efforts are making a difference. But it won’t be before the end of this school year, and it likely won’t come free of charge, as this one was.

We understand, and generally support, the push for transparency. But since the district said students could opt out of participating, we think this is a missed opportunity, and likely further evidence of the racism that makes it necessary in the first place.

UP to Cheyenne-area residents for their continued generosity, as evidenced by the large amount of donations made to the 16th annual Cheyenne Day of Giving on May 14, and the hardy souls who came out to clean up part of the community the next day, despite the less-than-ideal weather.

We continue to be awed by the outpouring of support area residents show when it comes to helping those in need. During an ongoing pandemic, nearly 27,000 pounds of nonperishable food and personal-care items and hundreds of other donations were made by individuals, youth groups, faith communities and others.

Our hats are off to the 76 congregations, 53 businesses and community groups, and hundreds of individuals who helped make this year’s events such a success.

WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK: Contact us via email at opinion@wyomingnews.com.

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