Humboldt High School students learn public work skills

Ginny Almquist, a student at Humboldt Senior High School in St. Paul, Minn., and a participant in Army Junior ROTC, wrote this guest post about the work of Public Achievement teams at her school.

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"Public Achievement is a youth civic engagement initiative focused on the most basic concepts of citizenship, democracy and public work. Public Achievement draws the talents and desires of ordinary people to build a better world to create a different kind of politics.”

"There are three ideas which Public Achievement is mirrored off of; everybody can do citizen work, citizenship is not easy, and we learn by doing. These three qualifications mean that everyone, no matter race, sex or age, can be a part of Public Achievement. Also democracy is hard, but when you work with others it can accomplish extraordinary things. “The most important lessons of democracy come from doing public work; from finding ways to cooperate with people who are different and may disagree. When we solve problems together, we all learn from each other.” (

Humboldt was the first high school in St. Paul to begin Public Achievement. Public Achievement started at Humboldt in the 1997-98 school year. Public Achievement has accomplished many impressive goals. One example is that a group of students at Humboldt who were part of Public Achievement set the goal of helping the Hmong war veterans get some recognition for helping the United States fight in the Vietnam War. These students worked hard enough that a bill was passed to recognize the Hmong soldiers. This legislation is House Resolution 371 and is called the Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act.

Public Achievement reemerged this year at Humboldt. Public Achievement takes place every Thursday during first and third periods of J-ROTC. First hour decided on two issues to focus on: air conditioning for Humboldt and immigration reform. They chose these two issues because Humboldt would be much more of a desirable place if it had eco-friendly air conditioning. Immigration reform was chosen because it is a very important issue for most in the class. The class is going to work for a way to change the citizenship test and/or to change the deporting requirements. Public Achievement will also cover the Dream Act, which is a proposed federal law for equal access to higher education for immigrants. Public Achievement will work hard to accomplish their goals on these issues.


Thank you for a great post

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs