FAIRBORN — Fourth grade students of Fairborn Intermediate School got up close and personal with city officials May 15 as they took a walking field trip to the Fairborn Government Center to learn how their own local government operates.
“We hope they’re able to see their government on a local level in action and how what they learn, as far as voting, elections, budget and economics [go] impacts their lives,” Fairborn Intermediate School Fourth Grade Teacher Lisa Vanhoose said. ” … I don’t think they realize the connections within the city all around, so we hope they’re able to gain that and see.”
They started the field trip with a message from Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson, who highlighted his job duties and the workings of city economics, in addition to Fairborn Deputy Mayor Paul Keller, who spoke about city council responsibilities. The students were then divided into groups as they headed outside to hear from the Fairborn Police Department, Fairborn Fire Department, Water and Sewer Division, City Garage and the Fairborn Parks and Recreation Division.
The field trip has been an annual tradition for Fairborn Intermediate School fourth grade students for at least the last seven years.
“We hope to see the careers in action and [realize] that they are working for them and their parents,” Vanhoose said.
The Fairborn Police Department in the past has provided a tour of the facility, including the jail, to the students. However, city officials had to organize the trip differently this year to accommodate for the construction currently happening at the police department. Therefore, for the first time this year, the students were introduced to the department’s K9 unit, Bac, and his handler, Fairborn Officer Joe Pence. Pence explained what Bac does, showed students some of his training and working equipment, called out some commands and allowed the students to show Bac some love.
Students also saw fire and EMS equipment up-close and heard an explanation from Fairborn Fire Chief Mike Riley.
“From a public safety perspective, [I hope they see] that there’s career opportunities for boys and girls,” Riley said. “Seeing that we have viable candidates in the future is important because we have a transitional workforce, people are always retiring and we’re always looking for new employees. Rarely do we have a situation where we don’t have a vacancy — right now is one of those rare moments and that hasn’t happened in 12 years.”
The garage afforded students the opportunity to see more city equipment up close, hearing about what the garage does to benefit the city and ultimately its citizens. Meanwhile, Utilities Superintendent Marcus Lehotay provided information about how the city’s Water and Sewer Division operates.
The trip closed out with information from the city’s Parks and Recreation Division, who told the students about its kid-friendly summer offerings and guided an activity for students to undertake.
“It’s good that they see it at this age,” Fairborn Public Relations Specialist Katie Lewallen said. “They learn something cool — the police, fire and garage — they love seeing it and those are our highlights for them … It’s a positive interaction for the city and schools and we’re glad we’re able to partner this way.”
On their walk back from the Fairborn Government Center, they had lunch at McDonald’s and toured the historic district of the area. Fairborn Intermediate School Fourth Grade Teacher Les Lairson saw it as an opportunity to explain the community’s roots.
Lairson, a social studies teacher, has lately been teaching the children about Ohio government and has mainly been responsible for organizing the trip since its inception.
“It gets them out to see the community and I talk about the history of Fairborn, which is not in our books,” Lairson said. “[I hope they take home] a sense of applying the knowledge that we’ve talked about and seeing the community first-hand.”
Reach Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.
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