Now in its fifth year and co-sponsored by the Brentwood Lions Club, the program gives high school seniors the opportunity to shadow a city employee for the day to get a better understanding of how local government works. While all seniors study American government for one semester in their final year of high school, there isn’t time in the schedule to examine the intricacies of local municipalities.
Heritage High School government teacher Michelle Lynch said the Youth in Government program is special because it allows 34 selected students to see how much work goes into running the city in which they live. “This is a great program that gives students direct access to how the city operates,” Lynch said. “Most students don’t realize what a team effort it is to run the city. There are all of these different departments working together to keep everything running smoothly.”
Liberty students Sierra Gruss and Megan Mas, along with Heritage senior Camille Corpus, spent the day shadowing team members from the Parks and Recreation Department. Director Craig Bronzan gave the students a tour of the new community center, home to many of the city’s recreation programs, and explained all the elements overseen by the department. Recreation Manager Poldina Scherff and Parks and Maintenance Manager Roger Stromgren chimed in with details about how the department is run.
The Youth in Government program has given Gruss, who plans to study business with an emphasis on recreation after high school, a new perspective about her future career goals.
“I had no idea how much goes into running the Parks and Recreation Department – not to mention the entire city,” Gruss said. “We don’t get to learn about this stuff in class, so it’s really cool to get an up-close look at how all this works. Plus, it was really neat to get a tour of the community center. It’s right next to our school, so it’s cool to see what it looks like.”
Mas was excited to learn that a scholastic major is offered to students interested in going into the recreation field. According to Bronzan, recreation majors don’t always work for city governments; they might, for instance, be the ones who create the challenges for TV competitions such as “Survivor.” He also noted that recreation specialists are often hired as event planners, which interested Mas, as she hopes to become a wedding planner.
Corpus was also impressed by the vast opportunities in the Parks and Recreation Department. “I was surprised to learn that so much goes into this one department. When you think parks and recreation, you think playgrounds and trees and dance classes, but there’s a lot of work to be done. Director Bronzan said the department’s motto is ‘adding joy to people’s lives.’ It’s nice to know that there’s this whole group of people dedicated to making the city a fun community for families to enjoy.”
As part of the Youth in Government program, students were taken on a tour of the city, which included a new stop: the John Marsh House. After a day of shadowing, students returned to City Hall Tuesday night to sit in on the scheduled City Council meeting. Next week, the Youth in Government students will take on the roles of the employees they shadowed and conduct their own mock council meeting.