Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Students get hands-on government experience

November 2, 2000
Eastern High School student Deshaun Donald, 17, expresses his opinion on racial profiling before a mock city council in the chambers of Lansing City Hall on Wednesday. Several Lansing area high schools participated in the Student Government Day activities —

LANSING - Although state and federal government are frequent topics in high school government classes, topics closest to the students are often not discussed.

City government issues like how city councils work aren’t covered in government classes, so it’s up to the Student Government Days program to fill the void.

The program was started four years ago by Lansing Councilmember Sandy Allen as a way to teach high school students about the inner workings of city government.

“City government impacts people so directly,” Allen said. “I wanted to figure out a way to allow students to experience what city government is all about. It’s been very popular with the students and the teachers as well.”

Cori Black, a junior at Eastern High School, 220 N. Pennsylvania Ave. in Lansing, said the day was fun, and she especially enjoyed the mock council meeting where she got to be a council member.

“Being up there, it was fun,” she said. “You were also allowed to speak. It was a big discussion.”

Black said shadowing officers at the fire department was also very educational.

“When we were in, three calls came in for the fire department,” she said. “We got shown through an ambulance. Five minutes later the ambulance had to go on call.”

Students from Eastern, Everett and Sexton high schools each attended the program on different Wednesdays beginning Oct. 25 and continuing for the next two weeks.

Prior to the field trip, the students requested which department of the city they wished to shadow. The students are given a brief orientation of the Lansing City Hall by Allen, addressed by Mayor David Hollister, then go to their separate departments to learn about that aspect of city government.

After lunch, the students held a mock city council meeting where they discussed racial profiling and other problems facing teenagers.

Allen said the students especially enjoyed shadowing officials in the different departments.

“The departments try to have something as hands-on as possible,” she said. “They get a lot of information firsthand while they’re observing. It’s much more meaningful.”

Manuela Jenkins, a government teacher and social studies department chairwoman at Eastern, said this type of hands-on learning is very beneficial to the students.

“They actually kind of job shadow the individuals

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