On April 25, 2013, following the 13th in a statewide series of panel discussions to promote civic engagement in Kentucky, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes recognized teams participating in the Students Transforming Appalachia with Real Solutions (STARS) Challenge and a Harlan County student for their commitment to civic engagement.

The STARS Challenge prompts middle and high school students to confront real-world challenges and engage leaders in the community and local government to understand the issues and develop strategies to address them. This year’s challenge focused on work readiness, addressing graduation rate, national career readiness certificate holders, educational attainment, soft skills measurement and availability of Internet as an indicator of digital literacy.

The Challenge culminated with a showcase at the Appalachian Teaching and Leadership Spring Summit where Secretary Grimes recognized each of the six student teams. The showcase coincided with Grimes’ civic roundtable at Hazard Community and Technical College and was part of the Jobs and Education Summit hosted by the Appalachian Teaching and Leadership Network and the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative. Leaders in education and state government also participated in the event.

“The STARS Challenge is a great way to encourage and empower young Kentuckians to be active citizens,” said Grimes. “The showcase really illustrates what we have been discussing during the statewide Civic Health Initiative – strategies that will allow all Kentuckians to be involved in their communities and the state. These students and everyone who mentored them for their projects should be proud of the example they are setting.”

Following the showcase, Grimes presented an award to Jessica Bailey, a sixth-grade student at Wallins Elementary in Harlan County, for receiving an honorable mention in Grimes’ office’s annual slogan contest. The slogan contest was created in 1988 to inspire students to be active and informed citizens, with particular emphasis on election-related issues. Bailey’s slogan, “We the people – Need to vote!” placed a close fourth in an online poll. 

“Kentucky is at its best when everyone’s voice is heard,” said Grimes. “It’s great to have students like Jessica encouraging people to participate in the process.”




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