Touchet students' project in national competition

The annual Project Citizen effort, a proposal to move Touchet into a different sports classification, was tops in a state competition.

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TOUCHET -- Twenty-six Touchet School seventh-graders came back from Olympia last weekend pleased to know their Project Citizen portfolio was on is way to the national competition in California on May 26. Their portfolio had taken first place in the state competition.

The students, all members of Donetta Elsasser's social studies class, developed a proposal that, if approved by the school board and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, would move Touchet into a different size classification for most sports competition.

The topic was selected after students consider a number of suggestions, student Autumn Rea, 13, said.

"We had a big list of issues that we thought were really important to us and to the community," Autumn said. Among the suggestions was new band equipment, new sports equipment and repair or replacement of restroom stalls.

The suggestions were weighed against a number of questions, including cost, want or need, was the process to achieve the suggestion affordable, and who and how many would be affected by a proposed change, Autumn said.

The students' presentation involves a four-panel visual board, which summarizes the plan, alternatives considered, the proposal and action plan.

The summaries are supported with documentation compiled in a binder, which is also part of the presentation.

The students plan to present their proposal to the School Board on May 26.

Students will propose the board seek a waiver from the WIAA to play up to 2B in sports other than football, and to be allowed to play 1B eight-man football without penalty.

The waiver option was the overwhelming first choice among all groups surveyed, but as the seventh-graders realize the waiver is not guaranteed, they will also propose a second choice.

If the school decided to opt for 2B classification except for football without the waiver, the football team would not be eligible for post-season tournaments because they would be "playing down" to 1B.

Other options include opting for all sports in 2B, including 11-man football, or going independent and not participating in a league.

On of the main advantages to the district to go to 2B is the potential cost savings in playing schools closer to Touchet.

Touchet presently competes with 1B schools, including Washtucna, Endicott, Rosalia, Gar-Pal, Colton and Tekoa-Oakesdale.

All of these schools except Washtucna are more than a 2-hour drive from Touchet.

The 2B schools Touchet would compete with are Tri-City Prep, Waitsburg-Prescott, Liberty Christian, Dayton, DeSales, Asotin and Walla Walla Valley Academy. Only Asotin is farther than about 50 miles from Touchet.

Seventh grader J.W. Sharp, 12, said the data the class has collected shows "there are a lot of advantages to it (the waiver) and it will help the school a lot."

Past projects initiated by Project Citizen include formation of a mosquito control district, lights for the football field, and installation of security cameras and better security for the school buildings.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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