Students learn social service during Civic Youth Day
by Mark Andrews
Apr 22, 2011 | 2734 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From left, Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Tate, Excel student Erica Garland, Cartersville student McAllie Givens, Excel student Ben Perkins and Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini listen to a speaker during a city council meeting on annual Civic Youth Day sponsored by the Optimist Club and State YMCA of Georgia. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Local high school students on Thursday experienced first-hand the operation of their local government during the 55th annual Civic Youth Day, sponsored by the Optimist Club and State YMCA of Georgia.

Students participated in a mock election, having to first register prior to the election. They then spent half the day participating in a mock school board meeting and "filling" various government positions.

Students from Cartersville High School and Excel Christian Academy split positions within the city of Cartersville.

"Mayor, city council and school board are all elected positions with the city government and those are the same positions that students can be elected to and serve for the day," said Randell Trammell, State Executive Director with the State YMCA of Georgia.

Ben Perkins, a junior at Excel, shadowed Mayor Matt Santini. He said he's been to a few city council meetings and would focus on finance if he were mayor for a day.

"There are a lot of different money issues going on, I would try to find some way to remedy that," Perkins said.

Other students were appointed to fill various department head positions as well as school superintendent and CHS principal.

Speaking of CHS, "principal" Ashton Smith said the first thing she would do is change the cellphone policy.

"I would allow them in the classrooms, just not during class time," Smith said. Currently school policy is that cellphones must be put away during the hours of 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Cass, Woodland and Adairsville high schools split elected positions within Bartow County.

"County commissioner and superintendent of Bartow County Schools are always popular positions with students so we allow all three county schools to elect a student for those valued positions," Trammell said. "It allows more students the opportunity to participate. We make sure that the three students elected understand that in reality Bartow County operates under a single county commissioner form of government as opposed to a Board of Commissioners."

Adairsville High had students serving in Bartow County positions as well as city positions.

"Since it's a county school and they are located with the Adairsville city limits they have students occupying positions within Bartow County and the City of Adairsville," Trammell said.

Popular positions filled for the county each year include sheriff and coroner.

Cass High's Kim Vargas, who plans to pursue a career in broadcast, followed Sheriff Clark Millsap for the morning because his job "sounded like the most fun."

"He told me he basically runs everything, ... all the divisions," she said. "It sounds like a very difficult job."

Vargas and other county "employees," including the water department and animal control, toured the jail and spoke with Millsap.

Those who shadowed Bartow County Coroner Joel Guyton glimpsed life in the coroner's office as well as the morgue at Cartersville Medical Center.

At noon, students and those involved in Civic Youth Day convened at the Clarence Brown Conference Center where they were served a barbeque lunch catered by Johnny Mitchell's Barbeque and heard Rep. Christian Coomer speak on the four "keys to success."

The "keys" were integrity, service, excellence and faith.

"I know I'm speaking today to a group of people who are not just future leaders, but are leaders in their community already," Coomer said. "I know you are volunteers, I know you work with your churches, I know you work with your schools, I know you do civic projects and social service projects, so I know you are already leaders in this community and I want to commend you for that."

Woodland High sophomores Courtney Cawthon and Weston Melton took the roles of elections supervisor and medical service director, respectively .

"It was really fun," Cawthon said. "I didn't understand how much it took to get one vote to process. There's a lot of things that have to go on before you can tally that vote."

Cawthon added she was offered a future job to serve as a poll operator.

Melton said filling the role of medical service director was a great experience because he wants to become an emergency medical technician. He said he spent the morning learning facets of the industry, which weren't always the most exciting.

"When you're an EMT you have to do paperwork and we picked up the paperwork from the night before that had the medication [a patient] was on and the equipment [emergency medical services] used," Melton said. "...I actually got a [phone] number so I can do ride alongs and sit in the passenger seat when [EMTs] are on call."

-- Shaka S. Lias and Jessica Loeding contributed to this story.