The tradition continues: High school students take control of city for a day

Photo by Tom Tigani

Photo by Tom Tigani

Police Chief Thomas Coombs (left) and City Councilwoman Karen George visit with student Mayor Jimmy Bishop and another Southgate Anderson student at the Police Department during Student Government Day.

Photo by Tom Tigani

Photo by Tom Tigani

These Southgate Anderson High School students consider a funding request during the mock City Council meeting Wednesday.

Photo by Tom Tigani

Photo by Tom Tigani

Student City Councilors listen to a proposal from a department head.

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE — City government officials got what may have been a glimpse of the future on Wednesday, as did a group of Southgate Anderson High School students.

The Student Government Day agenda gave seniors from Jennifer Furkas’ advance placement history class a chance to tour city offices and facilities, meet city officials and conduct a mock City Council meeting. The annual event is a tradition in the city that dates back some 25 years, she said, the last two of which she has coordinated for the high school students.

In that short time, Furkas said, she has been impressed with the professionalism and dedication of city officials to their jobs, to making the event a success and to accommodating their young visitors. The day began with breakfast at the municipal golf course clubhouse and a welcome from Mayor Joseph Kuspa, followed by a brief swearing-in by City Clerk Thomas Alexander.

The tour then moved to the 28th District Court, the Fire and Police departments, the Southgate Veterans Memorial Library and the Senior Center. Students then were treated to lunch at the Hungarian Rhapsody before the starting their council meeting. City Councilwoman Karen George toured facilities with the students and thanked them for their participa
tion at meeting’s end.

Ivonne Garcia said the day reinforced her desire to become a police officer, and that the visit to the Police Department was the highlight — specifically the Taser demonstration by Police Chief Thomas Coombs.

“He explained how it was good for an officer to experience what they do,” Garcia said.

Asked if her job for the day was easy, student Police Chief Sarah Valente said, “No, but it’s exciting.” She said that not only are her plans to become a police officer unchanged by her experience, she now wants to do so “even more than before.”

Furkas said a highlight of the day for many students was the chance to go up in the bucket of the Fire Department’s ladder truck, affording them a panoramic view of Downriver extending all the way to downtown Detroit.

She said she hopes the day’s experience helps to shape future leaders.

“If you get them excited and interested at this level, hopefully they’ll get involved in the community living here and working here,” Furkas said.