Civic Definitions- What is a Precinct - History

Civic Definitions- What is a Precinct - History

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Hidden rails – History and Heritage in the Civic Precinct

Hosted by the City of Greater Geelong and Quintessential Equity . This event will also be recorded for online viewing - please register to receive a link.

Did you know Mercer Street was once home to a railway that ran up Cunningham Pier?

Learn from an expert panel how Geelong’s fascinating industrial history is woven into the design of its new Civic Precinct.

Then, make your own impact in an engagement workshop on the exciting possibilities for the precinct’s historic building at 151 Mercer. Find out why the building is a locally significant heritage asset under our Planning Scheme, and help us explore future use and opportunities as a potential entrance statement to the new Civic Precinct.

Due to be completed in 2022 at 137 Mercer Street, the Civic Precinct will be the City of Greater Geelong’s new central office and an active public space, welcoming and accessible to all.

Have your say on the future of 151 Mercer

We want to hear from you! In the second half of the event, we're looking for ideas on the future of 151 Mercer Street. Understand why the building is a locally significant heritage asset under our Planning Scheme, and help us explore opportunities for it as a potential entrance statement to our new Civic Precinct.

This event is part of Geelong Design Week 2021, an initiative of Geelong UNESCO City of Design and the City of Greater Geelong.

A brief history of the city

When Captain Cook sailed past in 1770, the area was a stretch of long open beach, low lying coastal heath, sandy ridge lines, pockets of coastal rainforest and, further inland, an even denser rainforest backdrop.

Historical record provides an understanding of the population of the local Aboriginal community before the arrival of Europeans, their hunter-gatherer society, ceremonial activities, language and myths and legends unique to the area.

Surveyors first visited the region in the 1840s and shortly afterwards the area opened up for cedar logging, sugar cane plantations and cotton farming. Town settlements started with Nerang and Southport just after the mid-1800s with some holiday settlement beginning along the coastal strip. The main form of transport from Brisbane at the time was by Cobb and Co coach or boat and later by train to Southport. In 1887 Southport was the most populated town in the area with approximately 1000 people.

In 1925, Jim Cavill built the Surfers Paradise Hotel in Elston, which officially became known as Surfers Paradise in 1933. But it was not until the early 1950s, as Surfers Paradise became a popular holiday centre for World War II returned servicemen and families, that the city we recognise today really began to take shape. Tall building development started in 1959 with Kinkabool at 10 stories and has since grown decade by decade to create the distinctive skyline with one of the world’s tallest residential towers Q1.

For greater insight into the history of the Gold Coast, see the Gold Coast Urban Heritage and Character Study.

A brief history of Evandale

A cultural heritage assessment by Jabree Ltd provides insight to the pre-European contact history and indigenous cultural values of the Evandale site. This report is available to download here

The land was selected in 1860 as farmland for cotton, and then sugar cane, but later converted to dairying and other agricultural uses.

In the 1960s the Gold Coast Council purchased the farmland of Evandale for the development of an arts and civic centre. The administration centre opened in 1976 and the cultural centre, which is today known as The Arts Centre Gold Coast, opened in 1986.

The 16.9 hectare Evandale site is currently home to The Arts Centre Gold Coast, Council’s Civic Chambers and associated administrative buildings and popular parklands.

Know Your Precinct 4 History

A drive through Precinct 4 may reveal the same types of subdivisions, businesses, construction pockets, and vast areas of farmland found in any other area of Texas. What isn’t so obvious is the centuries of history hidden in northwest Harris County.

Precinct 4 is home to nearly 50 historical markers that recognize buildings, cemeteries, and spaces that have played a significant role in the communities in which they’re nestled. Tomball is known for its German founders, and Humble for its oil fields.

A lesser-known but valuable historical site is Amos Cemetery on Hufsmith-Kohrville Road in northwest Harris County. Like other historic structures in the area, the cemetery dates to the 1880s, a time when newly freed slaves sought new lives and land to build homes and communities. Monte Parks, a Precinct 4 parks administrator, says these families only wanted to make an honest living for themselves and their families.

“These were freed slaves,” he says. “They didn’t have money to buy land, so they had to come out and work manual labor to save up enough money to buy their own land. After the Civil War, they took up the jobs that people didn’t want to do, hard back-breaking labor, and saved up their money, banded together, and bought land.”

Amos Cemetery was founded by a small community of freed slaves from Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. After migrating to Kohrville, Thomas Amos and his son-in-law, Duncan Kosse (now spelled Cossey), bought the property. About 200 people are buried in the historic plot.

Not too far away, the Woods Cemetery was part of a community begun by approximately 10 families who first lived in Piney Point, just west of Houston, after leaving Georgia and Mississippi. When the group decided to migrate further north, it settled on land donated by Willis Woods. The families built a school, general store, church, and eventually a gravesite, Woods Cemetery, just behind today’s Lakewood Forest subdivision near Faulkey Gulley.

It didn’t take long for the group to learn that the property they were sold was a terrible place for a community, as the gulley flooded frequently throughout the year. Within a few years, residents of the small area began to move. Willis Woods moved his family to the east side of what is now Texas 249, to Tomball. After the move, Woods married Sarah Amos and helped build the Kohrville community. They left behind the settlement near the gulley, including Woods Cemetery. Though most of the stones identifying the gravesites are now weathered or broken, the neighborhood that encompasses the grounds has helped ensure the cemetery is maintained and not forgotten. The Amos, Cossey, Williams, and Woods families still live on part of the property that was purchased in the 1800s by their ancestors.

The Kohrville Community Association (KCA) is dedicated to honoring and maintaining the historical grounds of the Amos and Woods cemeteries. Since 2007, its members have rallied the community and family members of those interred to keep their memory alive. As president of the KCA, Stewart takes this work to heart, as her parents, grandparents, siblings, and other family members are buried in Amos Cemetery. By organizing fundraisers, hosting community events, and staying involved in the community, KCA members have managed to bring awareness to the cemeteries and other historical sites in the area. Many of the volunteers that assist in maintaining the grounds include neighbors like Joe Beatty, and students from Klein ISD, Prairie View A&M University, and Texas Southern University.

Stewart loves when students come to help because of their eagerness to learn.

“We really see the value that it adds by them doing this,” she says. “It makes you proud to see young people who want to keep the community clean. The cemetery is like your life history. Even though we have so many family members who have passed on, it’s the story behind those pioneers that came here and bought land, started businesses, and worked to maintain the land around the area for all these years.”

After the Lakewood Forest subdivision and the MUD drainage system running alongside the cemetery were built, Woods Cemetery was landlocked, which limited accessibility to the property. To get assistance with this issue, KCA members set out to build a relationship with Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. It has proven to be beneficial for both sides.

“We started working with Precinct 4 about two years ago after attending the Black History Luncheon at that time,” she says. “Mr. Cagle was there, and initially I had been in contact about there being no easement to the cemetery, and he assigned someone to help. After seeing him at another luncheon, I updated him on the situation, and he stepped in immediately to assist and has continued to be a great help with the organization.”

The partnership inspired Cagle to task Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project to plant five Battle Oaks near the entrance of the Willis Woods Cemetery in March 2020. KCA members also became more involved at monthly Precinct 4 events. Building such relationships with area historical organizations creates an incredible, tight-knit community that Cagle says he strives to maintain.

Recognition by the Texas Historical Commission often takes several years to complete. KCA historian Joanne Green began the process to recognize Amos Cemetery in 2012.

Unfortunately, most of Amos Cemetery’s history has been passed down orally. That lack of documentation slowed the process, but in the end, Green was successful. Knowing the background of German-born Paul Kohrmann – who established Kohrville – and the nearby historical Kohrville Family Cemetery contributed to the wealth of information needed to prove the cemetery’s historical value. Despite the odds, the cemetery succeeded and hosted its dedication ceremony in 2016.

There are many other historical sites in Precinct 4 that offer such history. The Fallen Warriors Memorial near the Champions Forest neighborhood is a beautiful space honoring Texans who gave their lives fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Enduring Freedom. Moonshine Hill near Humble commemorates the small tent town that developed after the first successful oil well was drilled, in turn creating one of the earliest economies in the area. Like Parks, visitors may find something unique about a historical site.

“There are several sites in the Humble area that represent the architecture of the early days of Humble and a lot of the oil field history that is pretty neat as well,” he says.

The historical sites throughout Precinct 4 are all opportunities to learn more about the forgotten history of rural northwest Harris County. Area founders did their best to provide a solid foundation for future communities and ample opportunities for growth.


Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle is proud to provide an array of services and educational programs to the constituents of Precinct 4.

Harris County Precinct 4
1001 Preston, Suite 950
Houston, Texas 77002
[email protected]

Past and Present: 318-322 Adams Street, a Precinct and Courthouse

A search through the photo archives of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection can often turn up mysteries. Take today’s period photograph, dated 1937. It shows the side elevation of a large brick building in the Queen Anne style, located on a crowded street.

The caption notes that this is the Adams Street Courthouse and Police Station, near Myrtle Avenue in downtown Brooklyn. The wooden tracks of the El train that snaked up from the Brooklyn Bridge to swing around Borough Hall and on to Fulton Street can be seen in the foreground.

We know that this building is long gone, but exactly where was it? A look at the maps reveals the answer.

This was 318-322 Adams Street, just down and across the street from the post office, between Myrtle Avenue and Johnson Street. Today, this address is part of the block-long Supreme Court Building site at Cadman Plaza.

1887 map – New York Public Library

A Necessary Courthouse and Precinct House is Born

The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge turned downtown Brooklyn and its civic district into a hot part of town.

The Kings County Courthouse, Borough Hall, Municipal Building and Hall of Records were all in a row on Fulton Street, while hotels, taverns, shops and theaters stretched along Adams and Johnson streets, near Myrtle Avenue. The 1887 map shows all of the activity in this area.

A busy shopping district was being built along Fulton, and the city was discussing expanding the elevated train lines to accommodate all of the people crossing back and forth over the new bridge.

All of this activity meant more people and, unfortunately, more crime. The magistrate’s court, which handled less-serious crimes like public intoxication, prostitution, shoplifting, theft, fighting and the like, was inundated with defendants. There were not enough courtrooms, so they held court in the basement of City Hall.

The closest police precinct wasn’t close enough, so the city decided to build a new precinct house that would also house a magistrate’s court.

1935 photo – Brooklyn Public Library

This would solve the problem of new precincts and courts, and also streamline the process of bringing prisoners to court. No more riding in the “Black Maria” — they could simply be brought upstairs.

In 1884, the city of Brooklyn purchased two plots of land on Adams Street, near Myrtle, and proceeded to tear down the frame house on the site. An unnamed architect working with the Engineering Bureau of the Department of City Works designed the four-story brick precinct house with a courthouse and judge’s chambers on an upper floor.

The building was supposed to be ready in the spring of 1885, but being a city project it was way off schedule. There were many complaints in the Brooklyn Eagle from court officials and police brass, but finally, in the late summer, the building was done. Everyone moved in and began working.

The precinct that moved into the house was the 19th precinct of the Brooklyn Police Department. After the consolidation of the City of New York in 1898, the precinct was eventually renamed, and became the 149th Precinct, NYPD. The court was the 1st District Court.

The building was labeled state-of-the-art when it opened, but 30 years later, it was a mess. The 1904 map shows the growth of the neighborhood.

By the teens, the 149th Precinct was one of the busiest in the city. They still handled mostly petty street crime, but there was a lot of it. Their small jail was soon overcrowded. On weekends, they often had to send prisoners to other precincts.

1904 map – New York Public Library

A Substandard Jail

By 1916 the precinct was the subject of a scathing report by inspectors. They noted that the jail was far too small and overcrowded, and had inadequate lighting and almost no natural light or ventilation. It was divided into a men’s section and a smaller women’s section.

Among the problems were toilets that didn’t flush, overcrowding and juveniles in the jail with no special protection for them from hardened criminals. The inspector recommended fixing what was broken and cutting new windows into the walls for light and ventilation.

But two years later, another inspector reported to the State Senate that nothing had been done the crowded, dark and unsanitary conditions were even worse than before. His tour of the women’s cells revealed a woman sitting in a cell so dark that he couldn’t even see it in broad daylight.

His predecessor had noted that he thought the place should be closed down, and the 1918 inspector was even more adamant.

But the city did nothing until 1922, when the 149th Precinct left 318 Adams and moved to their new precinct house on Poplar Street in Brooklyn Heights. The precinct lines had been redrawn due to changes in population and need, and it was felt that more police were needed in that part of the Heights, which included the docks and factories.

The building was turned over to the courthouse, and remained a magistrate’s court until 1933. That year, the magistrate’s court, night court and women’s court were all moved to the new Central Courts Building at 120 Schermerhorn Street.

1936 photo. 318 Adams is just out of photo at bottom. Library of Congress via Wikipedia Commons

The End of an Era

The building was now empty. But in December of 1933, the women’s court was inexplicably moved back there, a move that was not popular with anyone. The building had been roundly condemned in the press as unfit and inadequate.

Press reports soon came out that the women prisoners were not being fed unless they could pay for their own meals. The courts soon changed their minds, and moved back to Schermerhorn.

In 1935, the city voted to widen the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge. Entire streets full of buildings were torn down between 1935 and 1936.

In 1939, the papers list 318 Adams as the headquarters of the Sanitation Department. They weren’t here very long.

1935 photo – Brooklyn Public Library

By the early 1940s, the elevated tracks and the surface stations, such as the enormous Sand Street terminal, seen in the 1935 photo above, were torn down. The old precinct station can still be seen in the photo, as well. It’s the building with the corner tower and turret in the center of the page.

The entire area was torn down in the early 1950s for the Supreme Court Building, Cadman Plaza and the parks. The old 149 th Precinct Station and Municipal Courthouse stood where the Supreme Court Building stands today.

Civic Definitions- What is a Precinct - History

In 1987 a small group of individuals worked with the former Oamaru Borough Council (since amalgamation, the Waitaki District Council) to obtain funding for a feasibility study into the redevelopment of Oamaru's Harbour and Tyne Streets which unfortunately by the 1980s had seen time and 'progress' take its toll.

This area now known as Oamaru's Victorian Precinct, was the original commercial and business district of Oamaru and served as the focal point for trade through the port of Oamaru. The buildings consisted of large grain and seed warehouses which served the prosperous agricultural sector in the district during the later part of the 19th century.

Following the recommendations of the Arthur Young Feasibility Study the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust was established as a charitable trust. Eight buildings including the Loan and Mercantile Building, Neill's Store, Andersons's Store, Sumpter's Store, Meek's Store, Exchange Chambers, Sumpter's Exchange and Criterion Hotel were purchased from Wrightsons Properties with a grant from the Alexander McMillan Trust.

Today, the Trust owns sixteen victorian buildings in the Victorian Precinct.

The Trust's buildings were built during the period from1860s to1880s and are today New Zealand&rsquos most complete streetscape of Victorian commercial buildings. The buildings are constructed of locally quarried limestone. The easily carved stone lent itself perfectly to the creation of the elaborate Neo Classical style of building so popular with the Victorians at that time.

The Trust is fortunate that there are craftsmen in Oamaru today who have the skills to restore the buildings to their former grandeur. The restoration and adaptive re-use of the interior spaces of the buildings and tenanting them with unique businesses, artisans and crafts people ensures they will be part of Oamaru's story for years to come.

The Trust continues to work to preserve Oamaru's Victorian Precinct and has made significant progress in achieving its aims and objectives. The Victorian Town at Work theme for Victorian Oamaru has seen the recreation of many of crafts and pastimes of the 1800s so it isn't unusual to see a penny farthing speed by, or a coracle to being paddled in the harbour or a Victorian gentleman to doff his top hat as he passes you on the street.

A number of events take place in the Victorian Precinct with a highlight being the Victorian Fete, the grand finale to the annual Victorian Heritage Celebrations.

The Neighborhood Precinct Committeeman Strategy to Take Back the Republican Party and America at the Ballot Box

Precinct committee members are crucial to a viable democracy So, what is a precinct committeeman? Watch the two-minute video explanation below and the videos in the playlist below that. You can make a difference!

This strategy will require you to attend a Republican Party monthly meeting where you live and spend a few hours before the primary and general election either walking your precinct or making Get Out The Vote (“GOTV”) phone calls on behalf of a candidate. If you can’t commit to a few hours a year to save your liberties, don’t read on, as this strategy is not for you. The future of your country is worth a few hours a month outside your comfort zone.

In a nutshell, this is what every conservative needs to do ASAP:

  1. Contact your county Republican Party Committee, find out when and where it or your local district Party Committee meets (terminology varies from state to state), and attend the meeting.
  2. Introduce yourself. Be friendly, polite, and low key. The current officers may be wary of outsiders. Ask if a vacant precinct committeeman position exists for your precinct and volunteer to be appointed to fill it. If no vacancy currently exists (extremely unlikely), volunteer to be a “helper” for the existing precinct committeemen.
  3. Ask for a copy of the precinct committeeman handbook of your state party committee and study it and learn how to run for precinct committeeman in the next election for these positions.

Precinct committeemen are today’s political Minutemen and you’ll find the experience interesting and rewarding and you’ll meet many Republicans who know the ropes. It is important to get as many conservatives as you can to become involved in the process. Precinct committeemen are the “elite” of the political parties – parties do not exist without them and fewer than one in one hundred political party members can be a voting member of the party.

Learn more on The Precinct Project Website

In 2017, Dan Schultz published this paperback book on and sent it to President Donald Trump, hoping he’d embrace the Precinct Committeeman Strategy to help him get reelected AND transform our Party by “Trumplifying” it with Trump supporters in the precinct committeeman ranks.

If enough conservatives read this book and carry out the simple actions required to become “voting members” of the Republican Party — precinct committeemen — the probability of President’s Trump’s re-election — now in 2024 — will go up significantly, as precinct committeemen are instrumental in getting to the polls the 35% or so of Trump supporters who need a gentle reminder, from a fellow Trump supporter, to go vote. (The book is also available in paperback and kindle version.)

Civic Definitions- What is a Precinct - History

Flickr The front doors of the 77th precinct in Brooklyn, NY

In 1986, after three years of being on the force, Brian O’Regan killed himself. His suicide was an alternative to being arrested, as 11 of his fellow officers had been that day, on charges of corruption, theft, and illegal drug and firearm distribution.

During their arraignment, all of the officers were indicted, sparking a major change in the way the NYPD handled corruption for years to come.

In the three years before O’Regan’s death, Brooklyn’s 77th Precinct had made a name for itself as a home for crooked cops. Officers routinely stole money off dead bodies and pocketed cash from drug busts. When there weren’t enough busts to keep them happy, they created their own.

Brian O’Regan, Henry Winter, and William Gallagher were the key players in the mayhem caused by the 77th Precinct.

O’Regan and Gallagher were assigned as partners upon O’Regan’s arrival and began working the midnight shift. It was Gallagher that got O’Regan into the ‘Raiders’ game.

On their first night out Gallagher showed him how to steal. They drove to a smoke shop where Gallagher took $150 from behind the counter and gave it to O’Regan. A small sum when compared to what the team would later deal with.

“I felt like I was one of the boys,” O’Regan recalled later.

After the night at the smoke shop, he found out that it had hardly been a one-off. The night shift was full of cops who would prowl for unsuspecting places to pilfer from, especially ones where a drug deal was likely to happen.

O’Regan proved to be good at finding them.

When they found a spot to raid, they would send a signal over the radio to other interested cops. The assembled group would gather at a nearby firehouse, go to the spot together, and bash down the door with sledgehammers as they came screaming in.

They would then take the money as they arrested the dealers, pocketing it for themselves.

As out of control as they were during working hours, they maintained a strictly clean persona outside of work.

“We never did anything out of uniform,” O’Regan later said. Instead, they hid behind it.

Henry Winter joined the force after O’Regan. Winter stepped up when O’Regan was having doubts, even offering to help him find a way out of the NYPD.

“He said, ‘We’ll get you shot,’” O’Regan remembered. “And I said, ‘That sounds good.’ ”

They even followed through on the fake gun battle, though in the end both of them were too scared to shoot O’Regan, even in the hand.

However, shortly after offering O’Regan an out, Winter himself joined in on the raiders ring.

By 1985, Winter had solidified himself as part of the gang, getting paid $800 from drug dealers every week to keep him from raiding them. His cockiness is what caused his downfall.

The Internal Affairs Division had gotten wind of the raiders ring and was looking for someone to take the fall for it. Winter had made himself a clear target, and his partner went down with him as collateral.

New York Post Newspaper article reporting Henry Winters’s death.

However, instead of arresting them, the Special Prosecutor’s office offered them a deal. If Winter and his partner Tony Magno would wear wires and help them arrest the other crooked cops, they could end up with a deal. Of course, they accepted the terms, agreeing to wear micro-recorders and continue to participate in raids, while periodically report back to IAD on their fellow officers.

Over the course of almost a year, Winter and Magno compiled over 900 pages worth of information on their fellow cops. But while they were working as double agents, rumors began to swirl of their betrayal.

When O’Regan found out that Winter and Magno were possibly sending IAD information about his crimes, he began to lose it. Eventually, he tried to confront Winter about it but didn’t learn anything.

Then, one day, he arrived at work and was told he was suspended, along with 10 other cops. They went to seek legal counsel, all realizing that their prospects weren’t good. Winter was set to appear in front of a grand jury and testify against them.

On November 5th, 1986, the officers were ordered to surrender. All but O’Regan showed up to central booking to be arrested.

The day before they were set to appear in court, O’Regan committed suicide.

At the court hearing, all 12 of the officers pleaded not guilty. However, each were indicted on all charges, including theft and drug distribution.

Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward, in his office in 1985

After the 77th Precinct court case was over, Henry Winter followed in O’Regans footsteps and committed suicide as well. His family thought that the stress of informing on his fellow officers had proved to be too much for him.

The indictment spurred the NYPD into action. Commissioner Benjamin Ward announced extensive anti-corruption measures, which included transferring one-fifth of all patrol officers each year. He also announced the formation of a committee comprised of top NYPD commanders to devise more ways of preventing corruption, including questioning all drug dealers about police involvement.


Tarrant County's roots lie in the 'Old West' and much of our heritage can be traced to the era of the cowboy and the cattle drives that passed through Tarrant County. Tarrant County is one of 254 counties in Texas which were originally set up by the State to serve as decentralized administrative divisions providing state services and collecting state taxes.

Tarrant County, one of 26 counties created out of the Peters Colony, was established in 1849. It was named for General Edward H. Tarrant, commander of militia forces of the Republic of Texas at the Battle of Village Creek in 1841. The village of Grapevine the Texas Ranger outpost of Johnson's Station (in what is now south Arlington) and Bird's Fort, a short-lived private fort just south of present-day Euless, were early areas of western civilization in the region.

General William Jenkins Worth

On the bluff where the Tarrant County Courthouse now stands, a military post was established in 1849 by a company of the 2nd U.S. Dragoons under the command of Major Ripley A. Arnold. The fort was named in honor of General William Jenkins Worth, a hero of the Mexican War and commander of United States forces in this region.

Historic Tarrant County Courthouse - Before and after remodel

The first county seat election was held in 1851 and the location receiving the most votes, a few miles to the northeast, became Tarrant County's first county seat, designated Birdville as required by the statute creating the county. After the military post closed in 1853 and the little towns of Fort Worth and Birdville grew, a fierce competition sprang up between them to be the seat of county government. A second special county seat election was held in 1856, when Fort Worth edged out Birdville by only a handful of votes. Fights and fatal duels ensued over the next four years by supporters of both locations. Finally, in 1860, another special election was held. This time, Fort Worth, by now the larger town, received 548 votes. The geographical center of the county, a compromise location, garnered 301 votes. Birdville tallied only four.

From as early as 1856, regular stagecoach service passed through Tarrant County, carrying mail and passengers from the east on to the frontier forts and the West Coast. By the 1870's, mail stagecoaches arrived and departed from downtown Fort Worth six days a week. From the close of the Civil War and through the late 1870's, millions of cattle were driven up the trail through Tarrant County (roughly following Interstate 35 West) to the railheads in Kansas. After the Texas & Pacific Railroad reached Tarrant County and Fort Worth in 1876, Fort Worth became the largest stagecoach terminus in the Southwest - a hub for rail passengers to continue their journeys west by stagecoach.

1895 Tarrant County Courthouse

The Tarrant County Courthouse, completed in 1895, is fashioned of pink granite from central Texas and took over two years to build. Upon completion, even though the project had come in almost 20% under budget, the citizens of the county were so outraged by the perceived extravagance that, at the next election, the County Judge and the entire Commissioners Court were voted out of office.

Today, Tarrant County has a population of over 1.8 million, more than 2,700 times larger than in 1850, when its inhabitants numbered only 664.

For more information on Tarrant County history, please visit the Tarrant County Historical Commission page or contact the Tarrant County Archivist.

14 Examples of High Quality Civic Learning Opportunities

I am a San Marino High School (CA) social studies teacher who is best known for teaching the 12th grade US Government course (aka the civics course).

As the government teacher, it is my job to provide the students in my class with high quality civic learning opportunities. But what about the person who doesn’t teach a civics course yet wants to provide high school students with high quality civic learning opportunities? Is there nothing that he or she can do?

The math, science, drama, language arts, or special education teacher, for example? What about them? Ir the school secretary, counselor, or PTA parent?

At first glance, theirs seems to be a lost cause, though in fact there is much that they can do.

  • Inform high school principals and teachers of their desire to provide high school students with civic learning opportunities. At most high schools, an expressed willingness to serve often leads to an invitation to serve.
  • Inform high school students, their parents, teachers, and administrators about upcoming high quality civic learning opportunities. Often, such opportunities are missed for no other reason than lack of notice.
  • Find someone willing to help oversee the implementation of civic learning opportunities. There are so many available today that teachers simply don’t have the time to oversee their implementation.
  • Find someone willing to serve as a tutor/mentor/coach for students working on civic learning opportunities. In most instances, this does not have to be a teacher. The fact is that most high quality civic learning opportunities today permit someone other than a teacher to tutor/mentor/coach the students. Better yet, many of these opportunities require no in-class seat time. They are increasingly structured to permit a tutor/mentor/coach to work with students away from school, in some cases even remotely, via Google Docs.
  • Create an award for a teacher (other than a social studies teacher) who provides high school students with quality civic learning opportunities.
  • Create an award and/or scholarship for a senior who has engaged in a large number of civic learning opportunities.


The below describes the opportunities that I am familiar with. I’m sure there are others equally as good and I look forward to hearing from the Edutopia community about any/all that you might recommend.

1. The Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Civic Action Project (CAP)

CAP, according to the CRF website, “is a project-based civic learning opportunity designed to provide students with a chance to apply what they have learned to the real world and impact an issue that matters to them.”

Currently CAP is being implemented in over 700 high schools nationwide.

2. The YMCA’s Youth and Government Program

This program allows high school students to serve in model governments at the local, state, national, and international levels and currently operates in 38 states and Washington, DC.

The model government programs include the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, guided by teachers, volunteers, or Youth Government staff.

3. Student Poll Worker Program

This program allows eligible high school students to serve as poll workers on Election Day. Student poll workers learn firsthand how elections are run, and provide much needed support at polling place locations. They end their day with a better understanding of the importance of voting and the vital role poll workers play in making our elections run smoothly.

County elections officials may assign up to five high school students to serve as poll workers in each election precinct. Students work under the direct supervision of appointed adult poll workers.

The Student Poll Worker Program currently operates in 33 states and Washington, DC.

To serve as a high school poll worker, a student must typically:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least 16 years old on Election Day
  • Attend a public or private high school
  • Have at least a 2.5 grade point average
  • Get permission from your parents and school
  • Attend a training session

In addition to learning firsthand how elections are run, student poll workers can be paid a stipend that generally ranges between $65 and $150, depending on the county.

To encourage high school students in California to serve as poll workers, the California Secretary of State invites students, teachers, school activities directors and others to post, email or hand out the High School Poll Worker recruitment flyer.

4. California’s MyVote Student Mock Election

Designed to encourage students to become active voters once they are old enough to cast a ballot, the MyVote Student Mock Election, headed by Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, invites high school and middle school students, teachers and principals to participate in the MyVote California Student Mock Election, which this year took place on Tuesday, October 28, 2014, just one week before California's November 4 General Election.

5. The Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Annual Mock Trial Competition

A mock trial is a pretend or imitation trial. It is similar to a moot court, but mock trials simulate lower-court trials, while moot court simulates appellate court hearings.

CRF’s Mock Trial Competition is a simulation of a criminal court case in which students portray each of the principals in the cast of courtroom characters (lawyers, witnesses, court clerks, bailiffs, etc).

To enter the mock trial competition, one need only

The first order of business - finding a coach - should prove relatively easy. History suggests that once a school shows in interest in entering the competition, one ore more local attorneys will step forward to coach.

On the other hand, having an attorney-coach is not required. I’m not an attorney and have coached the San Marino High School Mock Trial Team for years. We do well enough.

As for how one should go about obtaining a copy of the annual case packet, see:

As for finding enough students to field a team, I suggest posting a flier in the school hallways. I also suggest starting with 12 students . . . one student each to serve in the role of

  • Prosecution team pretrial attorney (to give the pretrial motion and to serve in the role ofwitness #1)
  • Prosecution team trial attorney #1 (to give the opening statement and to deliver two directs and one cross)
  • Prosecution team trial attorney #2 (to give the closing statement and to deliver one direct and two crosses)
  • Prosecution trial attorney #3 (to deliver one directand one cross)
  • Prosecution court clerk/unofficial timer
  • Prosecution team journalist/photographer
  • Prosecution witness #2
    Prosecution witness #3
  • Prosecuiton witness #4
  • Defense team pretrial attorney (to give the pretrial motion and to serve in the role ofwitness #1)
  • Defense team trial attorney #1 (to give the opening statement and to deliver two directs and one cross)
  • Defense team trial attorney #2 (to give the closing statement and to deliver one direct and two crosses)
  • Defense team trial attorney #3 (to deliver one directand one cross)
  • Defense witness #2
  • Defensewitness #3
  • Defensewitness #4
  • Defense team bailiff/unofficial timer
  • Defense team journalist/photographer

6. San Marino High School’s Civic Learning Meet and Greet Program

The SMHS Civic Learning Meet and Greet Program is a program designed to provide students with an opportunity to hear and learn from individuals appearing in either the textbook or the newspaper and who are connected to the subjects of government, law, history, politics, and education.

A typical “Meet and Greet” is designed to last no more that 50 minutes. It is formatted similar to that of a television talk show with the host, sometimes a student, sometimes the editor-in-chief of our town's local newspaper, and sometimes a teacher, opening the “Meet and Greet” by asking a number of introductory questions before giving the students a chance to ask questions of their own.

7. Global Classroom’s Model United Nations Program

Model United Nations is an authentic simulation of the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, or other multilateral body, which introduces students to the world of diplomacy, negotiation, and decision making.

At Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors of countries that are members of the UN, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. The students, better known as “delegates”, debate current issues on the organization’s vast agenda. They prepare draft resolutions, plot strategy, negotiate with supporters and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the UN’s rules of procedure – all in the interest of resolving problems that affect the world.

Before playing out their ambassadorial roles in Model UN, students research the particular global problem to be addressed. The problems are drawn from today’s headlines. Model UN delegates learn how the international community acts on its concerns about peace and security, human rights, the environment, food and hunger, economic development, and globalization.

8. The Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Expanding Horizons Internship Program

The Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Expanding Horizons Internships (EHI) is a rigorous program that places high school students as paid interns in professional environments. EHI offers students the chance to gain work experience by helping staff at corporate, nonprofit, and government job sites. Additionally, students attend interactive seminars designed to help them prepare for college, career, and civic life.

9. The Senior Project with a Civics Component

A senior project, aka a culminating project, is a project designed by a high school senior (or in some instances also a junior), which is completed at some point during the student’s senior year and which seeks to challenge the student to:

  • Become an expert on a particular topic.
  • Do something related to the topic that (a) causes the student to “stretch” both personally and academically and (b) leaves the student with a memory that will not only last a lifetime, but which the student will recall throughout their lifetime as one of their great high school memories.
  • Share, in front of an audience (usually consisting of adults), both the knowledge acquired and the experience gained.

10. LegiSchool’s Annual Essay/Photo/Visual Arts Contest

LegiSchool is a civic education collaboration between California State University, Sacramento, and the California State Legislature, and is administered by the Center for California Studies. Its mission is to engage young people in matters of public policy and state government by creating opportunities for students and state leaders to meet and share ideas on the problems affecting Californians.

Organized by the Judicial Council and Administrative Office of the California Courts, in partnership with the Constitutional Rights Foundation and the California State PTA, the National 1st Amendment Cartoon contest seeks to increase student understanding of the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution, as well as to help educate youth about the role of the judicial branch and their role as future jurors.

Criteria for judging are based on students’ understanding of the First Amendment, creativity, and artistic merit.

For the 2014 contest, there were 783 submissions.

ICivics is a web-based education project that offers an array of free interactive, high quality civic learning games and activities for students.

iCivics was founded by retired United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Justice O'Connor started the web-based education project because she was concerned that students' failing grades on civics examinations were due to inadequate information and tools required for civic participation, and that civics teachers needed better materials and support.

To date, iCivics has launched twenty-one different computer games.

In Do I Have A Right?, the player controls firm of lawyers who specialize in constitutional law. The player must decide whether potential clients have a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and if so, match them with the right lawyer. The more clients served, the faster the law firm grows.

Argument Wars is a simulation of a courtroom argument. Players test their persuasive abilities by arguing real Supreme Court cases, and must convince a judge that the law is on their side.

In Supreme Decision, the player is a Supreme Court law clerk to a fictional Justice who grabs you on her way to an oral argument in a case involving a student's right to wear a banned band t-shirt. The Court is split 4-4. The game divides the First Amendment case into four issues that are explained through the other eight Justices' conversations. The player puts together the legal analysis needed to decide the case.

At this annual competition, students are given an opportunity to simulate a congressional hearing.

The judges at the competition are history, political science,law, and education professors, members of the legal community, and others with a knowledge of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

In preparation for the competition, entire classes of students learn about government and study the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The needed curricular materials have been developed by the Center for Civic Education.

14. The Annenberg Classroom Best Civics Sites for Teachers

A good place to learn more about additional high quality civic learning opportunities.


Civic learning is anything which provides students with the knowledge, skills and values they need to be informed and engaged participants in our democracy.

Research proves the efficacy of the Six Proven Practices in civic learning:

Watch the video: Civics 101