Students explore government

Published 11:42 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Another day at the office in the towns of Victoria and Kenbridge and County of Lunenburg came with the addition of 30-35 senior students from Central High School participating in this year’s Student Government Day, learning about how residents of the town and county are governed.

The program, started by government teacher Derek Burke, gives students the chance to shadow public servants and see processes of local government firsthand.

More than a dozen students attended the board of supervisors’ meeting Thursday as the board recognized their participation. The event was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lunenburg.

The events of Student Government Day extended to two days. On Wednesday, groups of students shadowed officials in the towns of Victoria and Kenbridge and Lunenburg County, according to the Rotary Club.

On Thursday, students interacted with members of the board of supervisors during

a luncheon at the school, which was followed by their meeting.

The board meeting was held at the high school to give students an opportunity to attend without leaving school, according to the Rotary Club.

County Administrator Tracy Gee, the president of the Rotary Club of Lunenburg, said the Student Government Day was a success, in main part due to the students.

“Most of all, I want to thank the students yesterday for your professionalism,” Gee said during the supervisors’ meeting. “We have a bright young group of students again this year and I really appreciate all of your efforts to be interested in your local government.”

Burke also gave a statement during the meeting, describing the event and its impact on students.

“It’s a great opportunity to marry what we’ve learned in class with some hands-on experience,” Burke said during the supervisors’ meeting.

Burke noted the students’ active participation was that much more impressive considering they are graduating in less than a month.

“I appreciate them for going above and beyond,” Burke said. “As you can well imagine, this is a very busy time of year for the seniors’ group, with the last-minute details for graduation and testing.”

He thanked the board, and said the event helped students form important connections with county officials.

Brandy Diaz and Nancy Lara, who are both seniors, also attended the meeting and got a firsthand look into the town offices in Victoria.

Lara said the event showed her all of the responsibilities of town officials, and some of the complications of managing a town budget and operations.

“I didn’t know they did all of that,” Lara said. “They have a limited budget, which is why they had to go by with what they put in.”

Diaz also said the event was informative and showed the town’s management skills.

“I learned a lot,” Diaz said.

When asked whether they would recommend Student Government Day to incoming seniors, Diaz and Lara, who plan to study nursing following graduation, said they would without a doubt.

“It gives people the chance to learn about what really goes on in the town,” Lara said.

Samantha Matthews, a senior and one of the participants of Student Government Day, said she and about 10 other students in a group also got to see activities of the Town of Victoria’s offices.

During their visit, Matthews said the employees explained their roles, the town’s history and had a roundtable meeting where students could ask questions about the town’s operations, current projects and how things work.

Students then walked to the Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office, where officials explained the office’s process and the amount of paperwork that needed to be completed.

Matthews said the meetings were eye-opening, showing the responsibilities of town and county officials and their role in the area’s operations.

“I thought it was really neat and humbling,” Matthews said. “When you think of going to the Town of Victoria (office) you think, ‘Oh, I have to pay my water bill.’ It’s humbling to know how much goes into (an employee’s) one title.”

Matthews, who is also interested in studying nursing, said the event allowed her to see others’ way of life, particularly those of government officials.

“You don’t realize how much people do until you step into their shoes,” Matthews said.

Samantha Matthews

Photo by Emily Hollingsworth
Seniors at Central High School stand at the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday. Pictured are, front row, from left, Khalil Watson, Justin Blackwell, Tenique Chavous, Tyler Williams, Samantha Matthews and Michael Minnix, back row, Jameeria White. The students took part in this year’s Student Government Day.