Civics and Government Institute
Founded in 1997, the Civics & Government Institute (CGI) is a small learning community within the walls of Montclair High School, which focuses on the study of citizenship, government, and social issues.
Students who choose to join the Institute in their sophomore year participate in student-run government, debates, elective courses, international relations, community service partnerships, US History, and British and American Literature. This constitutes three periods of the students’ day, while they leave the Institute for the remainder of their academic requirements. Throughout their three years in the Institute, students are given many opportunities to develop leadership skills to be used during their years at MHS and in the future.
The CGI academic program is interdisciplinary and thematic, weaving the history and English curriculum, which is offered in a block schedule. The sophomore classes engage in the themes of Social Movements & Reform, and War & Conflict. Junior year, the students progress from Economic Theory, Literature, & History, through Politics and Aesthetics. As seniors, CGI students participate in the “We the People” state and national competition through their Government & Politics course.
All history courses are offered at the AP or Honors levels, while students contract for High Honors or Honors in English. Within academics, Public Demonstrations of Learning are an integral part of CGI. Each year students create varied presentations based upon the theme they are studying. Sophomores participate in the Social Reform Panels and the War Room Museums. Portfolio Presentations and Literature Circles conclude the Junior year, while “We the People” Presentations occur Senior year. All students participate in, and all parents and friends are welcome to view, these exciting alternative learning experiences and assessments.
In the third period elective component of CGI, known as Government Studies, students participate in a variety of activities. Using the theory of the democratic classroom, students engage in self-directed department activities and a student-run Congress, which operate under a student-written Constitution. Students practice debating skills on a variety of local, national, and international issues, becoming familiar with parliamentary procedure.
In addition, students choose from a variety of academic mini-courses, called Electives, in both the English and Social Studies content areas. Sophomores are placed in interdisciplinary Introductory Electives, Intro to CGI, and Speech & Rhetoric, for their first two marking periods. Also, as members of the Institute, students are required to create meaningful service learning projects that begin with brainstorming issues, researching the chosen topic, and planning and executing an action plan.
The Civics and Government Institute provides an educational environment through which students can develop an understanding of their roles as functioning members of the community, state, nation, and the world. For more information, please call the CGI Office at 973-509-6400 or contact the Lead Teachers, Andrea McLaughlin and Tom Manos, through district email.