Youth honor their heroes

Published 10:09 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Selma Fire Department Capt. James Murphy was honored as a community hero and role model during a program Wednesday at Selma High School.

Selma Fire Department Capt. James Murphy was honored as a community hero and role model by Makiyah Jones’ second grade class during a program Wednesday at Selma High School.

By Chelsea Vance | The Selma Times-Journal

About 900 students, parents and teachers came together Tuesday at Selma High to honor heroes and role models in their lives.

The program, put on by the Liberty Learning Foundation, included second and fifth graders from Selma City Schools.

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The students gave speeches and presented pins and small replicas of torches and the Statue of Liberty to teachers, janitors and firefighters and others that they look up to as part of the foundation’s “super citizens’ program.

Reeivice L. Girtman, executive vice president of business development for the Liberty Learning Foundation, said his organization works to help mold children to become civic leaders and good citizens.

“The Liberty Learning Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides free resources to schools across the state. These resources are designed to teach students the importance of civic education and civic pride,” Girtman said.

As part of that program, the students are asked to look for leaders and every day heroes in their own schools and lives.

“What the kids do is, while they are learning about all of these different skills and things that we are trying to teach them, they actually begin to look around the community,” Girtman said. “Each student that you saw today represented a classroom. That class is called a torch team, and so each torch team nominates somebody from the community that is exemplifying the things that they have been learning about. Each class works to nominate that hero.”

The fifth grade students to the program a step further and held different fundraisers to raise money for the gifts given to their heroes. Fundraisers included bussing tables at restaurants and bake sales.

Girtman has been with the Liberty Learning Foundation since June and was previously principal of Eufaula Elementary School. He said the foundation hopes to soon take its program into middle and high schools.

“Our goal is to touch every kid that we possibly can. We are in the process of piloting a middle school program so that we can offer these same types of events to middle schools across the state. Once we get that market done, we will work on developing programs for high school,” Girtman said.