By T. CARTER ROSS — Representatives from the City of Hyattsville recently met with students at Northwestern High School for a wide-ranging conversation about local government, civic engagement, and other important issues.
On March 1, Councilmembers Bart Lawrence and Kevin Ward (Ward 1 ) and Educational Advisory Committee (EAC) Chairman Daniel Broder spent an hour with 15 members of Northwestern High School’s student government. In October, the students had submitted grant applications to the EAC as part of a class assignment.
Each year, the City of Hyattsville’s Educational Enrichment Grant Program, which is administered by the EAC, distributes up to $10,000 in funding to projects at public schools with enrollment areas that overlap with the city’s boundaries. Projects can seek funding of up to $500. Seven of the Northwestern student applications received full or partial awards to support arts, athletics, and environmental programs at the school.
“Visiting with the students at Northwestern High School was a really special experience,” said Lawrence, who has two children in Prince George’s County Public Schools, including a 9th grader in the Jim Henson Visual and Performing Arts program at Northwestern. “Despite sometimes difficult obstacles, these kids are engaged with their studies and trying to make their school a better place for their classmates. It’s empowering to watch and learn from them.”
Lawrence, Ward and Broder engaged in a lively, wide-ranging discussion about local government, state politics, organizing for political action and their professional and personal experiences with the students. They talked about racism and building political coalitions. More importantly, they listened to the needs, concerns and perspectives that the students brought to the table and committed to addressing them to the best of their abilities.
“Young people have unique perspectives, needs and ideas that deserve to be heard,” said Broder. “Too often in politics and other areas of civic life, they’re ignored or marginalized. I’m really glad we took the time to talk to the kids today. They’re really special and I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things they’ll do.”

IMG 1426
School supplies for Northwestern Evening High School students were gathered through an effort of the Hyattsville Education Advisory Committee. Photo by Dan Broder

Prior to meeting with the students, the EAC dropped off approximately 25 packages of school supplies to support Northwestern Evening High School students, which is an alternative high school for students who, for various reasons, cannot attend school during the day. The school supplies drive was organized to address specific needs raised at a meeting between the EAC and administrators from Hyattsville-area public schools.
“There’s a real deficit of finances that sort of cover the basics in a lot of schools,” Broder said.
The wishlist included the basic tools needed to succeed — pencils, pens, notebooks, journals, binders, calculators, erasers and white-out. He said the group requested 10 of each item and they were able to donate at least some of each of the items requested. 
“Our civic committees are fantastic vehicles for community engagement,” said Ward. “This is a classic example of that. The EAC started a school supply drive [for Northwestern Evening High School] based on a discussion they had with school administrators. The community pitched in to purchase the supplies and our students will be better for it.”
Colleen Curran contributed to this story.