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MALTA: History hands-on

Ballston Spa High School seniors are required to complete a semester long course titled participation in government. Successful completion of the course is needed to graduate, but the twist is that the requirements are a little different than the rest of the courses Ballston Spa students typically take.

"This is an introduction to town government," said Dan Hornick, a government teacher at the high school. "Students must attend town meetings and complete a community service project."

Hornick works closely with Andrew Menzies, another government teacher, to coordinate the course, which encourages discussing and debating real-world issues and current events. Students in the class can often be seen at local town and school board meetings and at least seven hours must be devoted to a community service project.

"We are trying to expose students to being involved in their community," said Hornick.

Recently, when Hornick and Menzies sent out a request to local governments, civic groups, and area emergency services seeking internship opportunities for the students as a means to earn credit for the course, Malta Historian, Teri Ulrich, jumped at the opportunity and provided a detailed list of projects students could work on through her office.

"I was very impressed with the teachers' letter and their understanding of how important internships are to seniors who are contemplating civic, governmental or public service educations or careers," said Ulrich. "Having been a government major in college as well as a state certified high school social studies teacher myself, I was excited about the chance to create opportunities for students to work in my historian's office."

Three students were placed with Ulrich for their internships.

Malta resident Lorie Grucella, and her friend Emily Sweeney teamed up to write one-page historic summaries of the landmark homes in the town. Edgina Desourmeau, using research already completed by Ulrich, wrote a report on the history of the Underground Railroad stops in Malta.

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