Civic Academy

Earlier this autumn, town officials and staff congratulated 19 graduates on their completion of the inaugural Arlington Civic Academy.

Town Moderator Greg Christiana and Town Manager Jim Feeney made brief remarks at the Oct. 19 ceremony, held in the Select Board Chambers at Town Hall. 

“All of the Civic Academy participants were thoughtful, curious and highly engaged,” said Feeney. “The Civic Academy was an enriching experience for both students and presenters, and I look forward to seeing how graduates participate in Arlington’s future.” 

“Participation in local government is vital to the health of democracy,” said Christiana. “Seeing this level of interest and engagement from this group of students was inspiring.” 

Over the course of six weeks, Arlington Civic Academy featured presentations by town officials and staff, with a focus on how Arlington works and what role participants may play in town government. Participants and presenters engaged in discussions that ranged from town and school budgeting to the difference between a variance and a special permit and more. Sessions were set in a learning environment and conducted in municipal buildings across town.

Graduates describe what they learned

Some graduates commented as follows, per the town, which did not give names:

Civic Academy 20232023 Civic Academy graduates and presenters

  • “This course increased my understanding and appreciation of the work of running a town by orders of magnitude. There is so much to be proud of when it comes to living in Arlington -- including and perhaps especially, the many ways in which citizens can and are encouraged to engage with town staff and volunteer leaders.” 
  • “It’s a great way to understand how the town works and appreciate all of the employees and departments. It’s a lot more complicated than I thought.” 
  • “If you’re at all curious about how our town government works and maybe interested in becoming more civicly involved, this is a good first step.” 
Curriculum overview

The Civic Academy ran for two hours per night, for six weeks, from Sept. 14 through Oct. 19. The following broad topic areas were presented:

  • Overview of Town governance and Town operations
  • Services Night 1: Health & Human Services, Recreation and Libraries 
  • Services Night 2: Public Works, Public Safety and Inspectional Services  
  • Services Night 3: Schools and Department of Planning and Community Development 
  • How to Get Involved, Finance and Budgeting 
  • Graduation 

Town officials say they plan to convene another session in the spring and that applications for the next Civic Academy will be announced in early 2024 via email and on the town website at arlingtonma.gov/civicacademy.


This news announcement was published Tuesday, December 5, 2023, based on information provided by Joan Roman, public information officer for the Town of Arlington.