PITTSBURG — Eighty high school students from area schools visited Pittsburg and other locations in Crawford County on Tuesday for Student Government Day, getting the opportunity to job-shadow government employees, participate in a mock election, and ask questions of some of their elected representatives.
After eating breakfast at Memorial Auditorium and hearing an introduction from Blake Benson, president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, students dispersed into smaller groups to learn about one of several different areas: law enforcement, medical services, city government, and county government.
Students who went to Girard to learn about county government watched sentencing hearings and the Crawford County Commission meeting, before splitting into two groups, one of which learned about the treasurer, register of deeds, and county clerk’s offices, while the other learned about emergency management and the county’s Geographic Information System (GIS) office.
Shannon O’Hara, a senior at Pittsburg High School, attended the emergency medical services session of Student Government Day.
“It was an eye opener,” O’Hara said. “It was fun to learn.”
Mya McLeod, a senior at Girard High School, meanwhile, went to the law enforcement session, which brought her back to Girard following Benson’s introduction to the event in Pittsburg to see the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
“We got to see the whole department and I didn’t know it was that big,” McLeod said, “living in Girard I didn’t even know it was like that, so it was pretty cool.”
Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers was scheduled to attend part of Student Government Day at Memorial Auditorium on a tour through various other locations in Pittsburg, but had to cancel due to bad weather. Rep. Monica Murnan (D—Pittsburg) was also scheduled for a question and answer session with the students, but had to cancel, although two other state legislators, Rep. Ken Collins (R—Mulberry) and Sen. Richard Hilderbrand (R—Galena) participated in the Q-and-A session at Memorial Auditorium.
Rep. Collins invited the students to stop by his office if they are ever in Topeka during the legislative session.
County Commissioners Bruce Blair and Jeremy Johnson also attended the Student Government Day lunch at Memorial Auditorium. Blair got even more closely involved in the event, riding the school bus with the students in the morning.
“I can’t go every place because I had the [County Commission] meeting at 10, but what they did at the courthouse I tried to pop in,” Blair said. “After our meeting they went to some different areas and I popped into the Register of Deeds, they were downstairs talking to security coming in and I was there when they were doing that part.”
Blair, a former high school teacher, wanted “to get the full experience,” he said.
“For years teaching, the kids would go to this, and you’d hear some feedback, but I’ve never been because I wasn’t in the social science area,” Blair said.
“So I just wanted to get an idea what this entails and what the kids are getting out of it. It’s pretty neat.”