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Marquette Students Get On Their Soapbox

Mikva Challenge Announces the Tom Baldini Project Soapbox Challenge in Marquette, MI Marquette Senior High School students will come together to prove that they are neither apathetic nor unengaged in the political process.

Marquette, MI, November 27, 2018— Mikva Challenge today announces that the inaugural Tom Baldini Soapbox Challenge will take place at the Marquette Senior High School Shirley Smith Little Theater, 1203 W. Fair Avenue, on Friday, November 30th, at 10:15 am. The youth-driven civic engagement event calls on students to speak out on issues that affect them and their communities. In its first year, the Tom Baldini Project Soapbox Challenge will honor the legacy of Tom Baldini, a former educator at Marquette Area Public Schools and a longtime area politician and public servant who made an impact at the local, state, and national level. Mr. Baldini devoted his life to promoting civic activism, solving problems, and working to make his community a better place. The dual purpose of this Soapbox Challenge is to honor his legacy and to engage and empower the next generation of community leaders.

Students will have the opportunity to take a stand as they address the question: “What is the most pressing issue facing young people today, why is it important, and what should be done to address it?” In order to qualify for the Tom Baldini Soapbox Challenge, twelve finalists were selected from over 190 competitors who researched, composed, and delivered original speeches in Blythe Raikko and Kris O’Connor’s US History classes. Additionally, there was an at-large competition open to any MSHS student interested in participating. For Friday’s final event, the judges will be a dedicated group of civic, business, and philanthropic leaders who will evaluate the content, delivery, and style of the students’ original speeches of approximately 2-3 minutes in length.

This unique and powerful event aims to shine a light on issues including mental health, environmental concerns, veteran care, as well as other societal ills. Speeches include powerful combinations of passion, research and personal stories about themselves and their loved ones. Performing in the Little Theatre is a unique opportunity for students to experience speaking to a large audience and to have their voices heard beyond their classrooms. We are calling it a competition, but in reality it is a celebration of our dynamic next generation of engaged and active citizens.

Additionally, one winner will advance on to Washington, D.C. this summer to give their speech to a national audience as part of Soapbox Nation, a partnership between Mikva Challenge and Facebook Education.

About Mikva Challenge: Mikva Challenge is a nonpartisan organization that develops youth to be empowered, informed, and active citizens who will promote a just and equitable society. We do this by engaging youth in action civics, an authentic and transformative learning process built on youth voice and youth expertise.

For more information contact:
Blythe Raikko, Marquette Senior High School Teacher,
Kris O’Connor, Marquette Senior High School Teacher,
Carrie Kelso, Action Civics MI Community Engagement Consultant,


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