The Connecticut Democracy Center is pleased to announce that 14 schools in Connecticut have been named to the 2023-2004 list of Red, White & Blue Schools. The Red, White & Blue Schools initiative is a partnership between Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas, Steve Armstrong from the Connecticut State Department of Education, and The Connecticut Democracy Center, which runs Connecticut’s Old State House. The “Red, White & Blue” distinction recognizes schools that go above and beyond in their delivery of civic education. Cornwall Consolidated School (CSS) in West Cornwall was named the 2023-2024 “Outstanding Red, White & Blue School” for their 7th-grade civics project. It earned a first-ever monetary prize of $1,000 thanks to a grant from the Connecticut Democracy Center.

“We were incredibly impressed by the scope and scale of this year’s Red, White & Blue Schools entries,” said Secretary Thomas. “Students from across the state demonstrated that anyone, of any age can create a lasting impact for their community, if they use the power of civics. Congratulations, to CCS’ students, teacher Will Vincent, and Principal Leanne Maguire for their project, and to all the participating schools for their efforts and dedication to improving their communities through civics.”

Each year the Red, White & Blue Schools partnership selects a theme to encourage participants to think creatively about civic education and engagement through an interdisciplinary approach. The theme for 2023-2024 was “Connecting Communities,” which challenged students to consider not only their school environment, but their surrounding community as well.

As part of their project, CCS’ 7th-graders focused on bringing attention to the challenges people with disabilities often face. The students researched the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and looked for ways to make their school and community more inclusive: they learned beginner sign language and Braille; they then taught second graders elements of both forms of communication and informed them about the ADA; they 3D-printed more than 70 Braille signs and hung them around CCS; and more. Cornwall Consolidated School’s 7th-grade students described their involvement as: “fun, informative, and something they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

The Red, White & Blue Schools committee also named Six to Six Interdistrict Magnet School in Bridgeport and Colchester’s William J. Johnston Middle School this year’s “Red, White & Blue Schools of Distinction” for their civics program offerings. Six to Six’s project focused on connecting with their local communities through a Career Day and a Cultural Arts Day. William J. Johnston Middle School’s submission demonstrated their “climate of community” through a variety of projects, including public service announcements about local issues and a podcast that showcased businesses and community organizations from the area. Another 11 schools were honored as “Red, White & Blue Schools.”

“I would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to Cornwall Consolidated School for being named the Outstanding Red, White, and Blue Schools program for 2023-2024. The school’s efforts are a testament to the power of civic involvement and education,” Connecticut State Department of Education Commissioner Russell-Tucker said. “I am delighted to see a record number of applications for this year’s program, reflecting a commitment to connecting students, schools and districts to their larger communities. Congratulations to all the schools being honored for their participation in this year’s Red, White & Blue Schools program.”

Sally Whipple, Executive Director, of Connecticut’s Old State House added “We’re happy to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of this year’s Red, White & Blue Schools! We’re inspired by the students’ creative projects and the teachers’ commitment to providing authentic, hands-on civic education experiences. This type of learning prepares students for a lifetime of civic participation.”

The goal of the Red, White & Blue Schools initiative is to emphasize the importance of active and informed citizenship throughout students’ education in a collection of ways that spur lifelong engagement.

2023-2024 Red, White & Blue Schools Program Honorees:

Outstanding School
Cornwall Consolidated School (West Cornwall)

Schools of Distinction
Six to Six Interdistrict Magnet School (Bridgeport)
William J. Johnston Middle School (Colchester)

Red, White & Blue Schools
Andover Elementary School
Bristol Public School
Deep River Elementary
East Hartford High School
Hamden High School
Mile Creek School (Old Lyme)
Natchaug School (Natchaug)
Odyssey Community School (Manchester)
Plainville Community Schools
Seymour Public Schools
Wheeler High School (North Stonington)