Each school year, Edison High School teacher David Salzer challenges his three sections of students to understand the workings of the US government through practical applications. When some students proposed adding water-filling stations to relieve the congestion at the sole second-floor station, Salzer got them to treat the problem the way Congress would do it: propose a bill and turn it into law.
Last October, the annual Tommy Telethon raised more than $13,000 and earmarked it for funding the operating expenses of school clubs and other activities. The fundraising was successful enough that about half that amount was declared surplus, available for other projects. Edison senior Hafsa Muse noted that water availability had been a problem within the school; while there are plenty of drinking fountains in the hallways, she said, “They aren’t very attractive.” Many students bring water bottles with them, and more filling stations would help. The school has a machine in the basement that sells dollar bottles of water, but there is the added issue of expense and plastic waste.
Some of Salzer’s students did “Legislative Branch Simulation,” where they wrote, introduced, amended, passed, repealed, and implemented a bill requesting the addition of filling stations (called “hydroboost” stations) on three additional floors, financed by those surplus dollars. They held floor debates, conference committees, and judicial reviews. At the same time, another group of students took an alternative, “grassroots” path, gathering signatures on a petition that was sent to State Senator Kari Dziedzic and Representatives Sidney Jordan and Fue Lee. Eventually the bill was voted on by the Edison Activity Council (EAC) and the addition of two stations (estimated cost: $1,700 each, plus installation) was approved by the school’s principals.
Senior Ellie Traxler-Menz said the original impetus for the filling station additions came from the school’s Green Team, a student group that focuses on sustainability education in the school and community. The group was concerned about non-compostable waste generated by plastic bottles.
It should be noted that the COVID pandemic has had Edison and its students “distanced” since last March; all of the activities and transactions have taken place remotely.
Both Muse and Traxler-Menz are part of the graduating class of 2021, and neither expects to see the actual installation of the hydroboost stations before they graduate this spring. But they and other members of their class believe that part of their mission is “to leave Edison a better place.”
A visual presentation of the class’s Legislative Simulation can be found at: https://prezi.com/view/jsuoR5JnVIO3boMSvhc3/.