Lo­cal high school stu­dents sam­ple life in county govern­ment

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SCHOOL SCOOP -

On Youth in Govern­ment Day, 80 stu­dents from high schools across San Joaquin County, in­clud­ing about a dozen stu­dents from Tokay High, got a first-hand look at their lo­cal govern­ment, not just the role it plays in their day-to-day lives but as a place where they could one day find their ca­reers.

The stu­dents shad­owed county em­ploy­ees for a day. They learned what it was like to work in the Sher­iff ’s Of­fice, San Joaquin Gen­eral Hospi­tal, and some of the other higher pro­file de­part­ments in county govern­ment.

But the stu­dents also saw what it was like to work in the de­part­ments be­hind the scenes, like the Hu­man Re­sources Depart­ment and the County Coun­sel’s Of­fice and Au­di­tor-Con­troller’s of­fices.

“We help them ac­com­plish their mis­sion,” said Jen­nifer Good­man, prin­ci­pal per­son­nel an­a­lyst for county hu­man re­sources, be­fore set­ting off on the day with a col­league to show two stu­dents the ropes.

Car­lie, a Lin­den High stu­dent, said she signed up for Youth in Govern­ment Day to learn more about the range of op­tions avail­able to her in her fu­ture, which is why she picked the Au­di­tor-Con­troller’s Of­fice “I just wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence what govern­ment was like.”

Au­di­tor-Con­troller Jay Wil­verd­ing had a day planned that would give a stu­dent a well-rounded look at county govern­ment, he said. The day had just got started when the pair learned they had some­thing in com­mon: they both played the trom­bone.

Mak­ing per­sonal con­nec­tions with ac­tual peo­ple do­ing the work of lo­cal govern­ment is one of the pieces of Youth in Govern­ment Day, which is or­ga­nized by county govern­ment and the San Joaquin County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion (SJCOE).

“I think it’s great. It gives them an op­por­tu­nity to see what is go­ing on,” said Robert North, who was there to pick up his grand­daugh­ter af­ter see­ing her re­ceive a cer­tifi­cate pre­sented by of­fi­cials from the SJCOE and the county Board of Su­per­vi­sors. The stu­dents need to learn about lo­cal govern­ment, he said. “Be­cause they are go­ing to be our lead­ers one of th­ese days.”

The stu­dents at this year’s Youth in Govern­ment day on Nov. 1 came from be.tech, East Union, Lathrop, Man­teca, Sierra, and We­ston Ranch high schools (Man­teca Uni­fied School Dis­trict); Health Ca­reers Acad­emy and We­ber In­sti­tute (Stock­ton Uni­fied School Dis­trict); Mil­len­nium High School (char­tered by Tracy Uni­fied School Dis­trict); Lin­coln High School (Lin­coln Uni­fied School Dis­trict); Lin­den High School (Lin­den Uni­fied School Dis­trict); Tokay High School (Lodi Uni­fied School Dis­trict); and Ven­ture Acad­emy Fam­ily of Schools (SJCOE).

For Max and Priti, two Ven­ture Acad­emy stu­dents on the school’s mock trial team, the day made a real-world con­nec­tion to what they were do­ing at school. They spent the day with the staff at the County Coun­sel’s Of­fice.

“We got to see the real ap­pli­ca­tions of what we learned,” Max said.

For Ra­iann, a se­nior at Sierra High, the day made her more con­fi­dent in her de­ci­sion to go into law. She went with the Pub­lic De­fender’s Of­fice to ob­serve a crim­i­nal court pro­ceed­ing. It was real life with real-life stakes — and noth­ing like she’d seen on tele­vi­sion, she said.

“It boosted me even more. I’m so ex­cited, now,” she said.

Cal­ista, a ju­nior at Man­teca High, picked hu­man re­courses to shadow, so she would have more per­spec­tive when plan­ning for a fu­ture that could lead to man­age­ment or lead­er­ship po­si­tions, she said. Af­ter spend­ing the day with county HR, she said she could re­ally see her­self in that role, too, even when tough choices have to be made.

Cu­rios­ity drove Her­nan, a se­nior at Ven­ture Acad­emy, to pick hu­man re­sources. He was in­ter­ested in get­ting a new per­spec­tive on a char­ac­ter from the tele­vi­sion show The Of­fice, which in­cludes a some­times-ma­ligned char­ac­ter from HR named Toby.

At the end of the day, Her­nan said he un­der­stood that HR serves an im­por­tant role, even when it’s not pop­u­lar. “I learned that Toby is not that bad a per­son.”

BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SEN­TINEL

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