Lawmakers praise Roman Catholic High mappers for model engagement

Chris Satullo| March 27th, 2019

Roman Catholic High student Colin Long explains how he did his award-winning map as fellow honoree Derek Nguyen looks on | Image Credit: Linda Breitstein

No school in Pennsylvania has grabbed hold of the Draw the Lines challenge with more gusto than Roman Catholic High School in Center City Philadelphia.

About a hundred people gathered at the school last week to celebrate that fact - and what it says about the level of civic engagement among students there.

The moment John Corrigan heard about Draw the Lines PA last fall, the Roman teacher immediately grasped the project’s potential.  He saw that DTL could give the sophomores in his honors government and politics course a hands-on learning experience that would fire their imaginations.

Soon, more than 100 students in purple and gold Cahillite sweaters were poring over the resources on the Draw the Lines website, debating concepts such as compactness and competitiveness, and diving into the District Builder mapping tool.

When we judged our fall competition, Roman Catholic ended up ruling our east region.

Two Roman students, Colin Long and Derek Nguyen, swept youth division honors in the east, Colin finishing first, Derek second.  Ten other Roman students won honorable mentions.

That’s why the DTL team was at the venerable school on North Broad Street last Friday, to award Roman Catholic High a certificate as our statewide model for student engagement and to hand out individual citations and checks to the school’s honorees.

Three lawmakers, state Sen. Art Haywood, state Rep. Mary Isaacson and Councilman David Oh, took part in the event, getting a first-hand sense of the seriousness the Roman students brought to their map-making – with award-winning results.  State Sen. Vincent Hughes had also planned to attend, but had to deal with a last-minute issue.

Isaacson and Oh presented Corrigan with citations from the Pennsylvania House and Philadelphia City Council, respectively, citing the school for exemplary efforts to teach young people the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

The event took place in Roman’s legendary, banner-strewn upstairs gym, where so many future college and NBA basketball stars heard roof-rattling cheers.

But this time, in a nice twist, the Cahillite students were getting praise and applause because of their outstanding citizenship, not athletic prowess. 

And a beloved veteran teacher whose concern for his students and love of his subject shine through his every gesture and word got a well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

Teacher John Corrigan of Roman Catholic High School tells a school assembly why he brought the Draw the Lines program to the school. | Image Credit: Linda Breitstein