(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— Area High school students had a taste of what it’s like to run a city. More than 60 juniors from Central, Benton, Lafayette, and St. Joseph Christian participated in St. Joseph’s 23rd Annual Student Government Day on Tuesday.
The event, coordinated by the City of St. Joseph and the St. Joseph Rotary Club, focuses on a hands-on learning approach for learning the roles of City Council, cost hall staff, and city employees like St. Joseph Police and the Health Department.
“Civics class in school can give an idea of what government is, but here, it's pretty concrete, they actually see the departments they meet the people that are doing the jobs, it's no longer abstract,” Mayor Bill McMurray said.
Students were assigned a city job that they learned about from the city employee in that position. Central High School junior Danielle Dotson was the Mayor.
“I was excited to be picked to be Mayor, it’s definitely a bucket list item,” Dotson said.
After a tour around the city to see what projects were underway, students met with their assigned city department group. Students learned job tasks for each employee in the respective department and were able to ask questions about day-to-day tasks.
“I didn’t know it would be like this, it’s definitely not what I expected, they have a lot to do,” Lafayette junior Ethan Lowe said.
By the end of the day, students were ready to take on their own mock city council meeting.
Student stand-in city council members listened to concerned students who played the SJPD, the Health Department, and concerned citizens.
They debated potential city ordinances and even voted on if they would pass.
“I hope this lights a spark in some of them not all of them to be participating citizens in their community this is what makes a community prosper,” McMurray said.
“After today, I want to be more involved in my community and it would be cool to be a member of city council one day,” Dotson said.