MHS students shadow government officials

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Kennedy Schuck, center, leans in as she and Tia Jarvis learn from Yolanda Stine in the Marietta auditor’s office how payroll is structured and approved Friday during Student Government Day.

Marietta High School juniors and seniors studying government this school year were treated to real-world experience Friday.

“Here’s a chance to shadow city leaders and get to ask (leadership) questions about their city,” said J.D. Secrest, one of the two social studies teachers who brought classes to meet government officials Friday at the downtown fire department. “Plus the mayor takes us out on the Valley Gem for lunch, this is kind of a reward for the kids’ good work over the year.”

Before setting out to learn about the inner workings of the city, Marietta Municipal Court Judge Janet Dyar Welch swore in the students to uphold the Constitution and discharge their “duties” and faux-public officials Friday.

“But I want you to know,” she said, gearing her final morning remarks to the students sworn in as appointed officials instead of elected ones. “That the elected officials are nothing without the support of their support staff.”

Both Secrest’s government class and Pam Bennett’s College Credit Plus government class participated in the day of job shadowing, with students splitting off to see the inner workings of the city from its water and wastewater operations to how the finances of the city are tracked.

“We run the payroll taking into account how much sick time each employee has, how much vacation they’ve used, what additional certifications they’re being paid for,” Yolanda Stine was heard explaining to juniors Tia Jarvis and Kennedy Schuck Friday morning. “In the summer every day with the aquatics center we come in and count the money and do an audit there as well, giving back what’s needed for change for the next day.”

Jarvis, 16, of Marietta, said she saw the immediate connection to a previous summer job she held at the community pool.

“Oh, I worked there one summer,” she said with excitement when Stine started explaining the cash that also must pass through the office of the city auditor. “I was working there two summers ago, we had to count the money too and look at receipts and make sure things were adding up right.”

Schuck, 17, of Devola, said she was intrigued by the amount of behind-the-scenes work that occurs in the city just to pay employees to complete services some take for granted.

“I don’t think I understood the amount of work they do, they do so much for the city,” she said.

For juniors Tulasii Thayaparan and Alexandra Watlington, getting to shadow the health department directly played to their goals to focus on medicine after high school

“It helps to have kids that want to go into the health field,” noted Sandra Hickey, who works in that city department.

But the students weren’t siloed into just the departments they were assigned.

Thayaparan and Watlington also learned the roles the information technology department cover for the entire city workforce, with Scott Steinel showing them the inner workings of the city’s network servers and Amy Tucker explaining how the city protects its computers from malicious hackers.

Likewise, while Tanner Huffman was escorting senior Sam Bartlett and junior Chloe Stevens through his duties overseeing both the public facilities and cemetery departments, he provided a broader perspective of the process to take care of city assets and pay for maintenance, repairs and overhauls.

“Whoa,” said Bartlett as Tanner opened up the Armory’s front door to the gym. “I don’t think I’ve been in here before.”

Huffman used the opportunity to explain how difficult getting grant funding to line up can be for government entities all vying for the same pools of money.

“You’ve got to be very tough skinned to go into this,” he said of public services. “There’s always something to be critical about, and you’re here trying to strategically and efficiently accomplish all of your duties with five people, keeping in mind things like most weddings happen Friday through Sunday so this park needs to be mowed Thursday to stay fresh, while making sure the cemeteries are mowed and graves are dug and trees don’t fall on cars and people.”

At a glance

Marietta High Schoolers at Student Government Day:

¯ Nathan Matthews.

¯ Brad Gentry.

¯ Collin Doughty.

¯ Tia Jarvis.

¯ Kennedy Schuck.

¯ Ethan McAtee.

¯ Matt Martin.

¯ Wyatt Miracle.

¯ Summer Athey.

¯ Madeline McKitrick.

¯ Guillermo Del Rio Gonzalez.

¯ Camden May.

¯ Sydney Durham.

¯ Adelaide Kerenick.

¯ Griffin Setterstom.

¯ Max Cogswell.

¯ Taylar Goddard.

¯ Ashley Schulteis.

¯ Maddie Lankford.

¯ Chloe Stevens.

¯ Sam Bartlett.

¯ Megan Blair.

¯ Allison Hiser.

¯ Ben Lawson.

¯ Ian Coleman.

¯ Tulasii Thayaparan.

¯ Alexandra Watlington.

¯ Jozi Covey.

¯ Alex Temesvary.

¯ Grace Arnold.

¯ Austin Offenberger.

Source: J.D. Secrest.