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A Cleveland Hill history teacher visited Albany to give the state Board of Regents a lesson on how schools and communities can work together.

Glenn Johnston, who is a social studies teacher at Cleveland Hill High School, was one of only two teachers from Western New York invited to the Sept. 13 forum on the board's 2000-01 legislative agenda.

Johnston was asked for his opinions on one new area of focus, school-community collaborations, because of his reputation for working with students on intensive, community- based research projects.

"It's simple. We don't need more things out there -- we need to have (the students) out there doing things," said Johnston.

In a detailed proposal to the Regents subcommittee on cultural affairs, Johnston outlined how his students conducted an extensive research project last spring on the Polish Blue Army during World War I.

The research spanned several months and required students to spend time outside the classroom, working with cultural institutions throughout Western New York and Canada.

Through site visits and interviews, students drew information from such diverse groups as the Polish Army Veteran of America, St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, the Niagara-on-the-Lake (Ont.) Historical Society and even the Broadway Market.

But Johnston told the Regents these lessons in history shouldn't stop there.

He said students would benefit from research projects such as these even more if they were published in some form, rather than just stamped with a grade and then discarded in the dust bin.

"If we allow the students to realize they are the ones writing history, they'll be screaming to get involved," said Johnston.

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