A student wanted to create a memorial honoring those who built a state capitol, and 18 months later she and her fellow classmates have accomplished her goal.
In Minnesota, Chloe Beede felt that it was about being fair. “They probably did more work than the designers would have,” she said. “They had the workers that made it, and some of them died, and they really didn’t put much mind into that.”
When Chloe was a sixth grader at Willow Creek Intermediate School, she asked her teacher, Jennifer Hansen, if a memorial existed at the capitol honoring the laborers and craftsmen. Today, Chloe and 90 of her seventh grade classmates have changed that.
Both houses of the state legislature passed a budget bill which included a provision for a commemorative plaque in the newly renovated capitol, honoring the workers who participated in building the original structure, and commemorating the six who died during construction. The students wrote letters to senators and to Governor Mark Dayton to get the proposal started.
Hansen said that the lesson in civics and state history took on a life of its own.
“Of course, middle schoolers are all about fairness, and they said, ‘that’s not fair,’” she said. “It was one of those teachable moments … I thought we’d have a letter-writing campaign and maybe get some nice stock replies from the governor and the legislators.”