DAMASCUS—Four eighth-grade students from Damascus Area School caught a glimpse of local politics Monday, serving as township officials through the Supervisors for a Day Program.
Lars Balthasar, Jocelyn Barnes, Gwen Cole and Jacob Turner spent all day Monday surveying Damascus Township with supervisors Joseph Canfield, Daniel Rutledge and Steve Adams.
Damascus Social Studies teacher, Peter Casazza explained “For the past 25 or 30 years, the supervisors here in Damascus have been running a program called Supervisors for a Day in which I get to pick four outstanding students and they get to spend a day with the supervisors to get an idea of what local government looks like on a day-to-day basis.”
The students were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at how local government is run, what supervisor duties and responsibilities are, and how local businesses are developing in the area.
The group visited Bedrock Stone quarry, Calkins Creamery, and Boyce Products to learn about the services each business provides.
Boyce Products was especially memorable, said Balthasar.
“He showed us the laser-cutting machine,” said the young supervisor, “that's what they use to cut their metal, and I thought that was really interesting.”
Barnes and Turner noted the manufacturer was their favorite part of the day, too.
“We learned how all the cabinets were made and watched a piece of metal get cut, said Turner. “so that was pretty cool.”
Barnes said she found the business' growth to be the most interesting: “I remember when they were just, really small...and now they have all the new, bigger machines... and they're sending so much out. It's interesting to see that.”
For Cole, the most interesting thing that day was Calkins Creamery.
She said she enjoyed, “...learning the process and how they make the cheese.”
In their tour of the township, the students also rode along with the supervisors to survey the storm damage and learn how the municipality works to remedy such situations.
Following their sojourn around the township, the students were led back to the municipal building where they conducted the regular business of the official May meeting under the watchful eye of the township supervisors.
Special to that evening, the students also presented two awards to Dora Fay Henry and Marty Kunstmann for their many years of dedicated service to the township.
Barnes and Cole read aloud honors for them commending Henry's work for the community center and area food pantry, and Kunstmann's work on the recycling program and for the township Planning Commission.
“We had a great day,” said Supervisor Adams. “They did some analysis. They saw some of the work that we've done over the past couple years, and some of the wind damage and stuff from the last storm that we had.”
Adams noted later that night that it's important for students to “...get a little feel for [local politics] and get exposed to the inner workings of the township.”
The knowledge is beneficial for the students both if they wish to get involved in politics as leaders themselves and if they wish to start a business in the area.
“The more involved they get, the better it is for every part of the community,” said Adams.
Supervisor Rutledge added, “We took them around today to show them local businesses, basically to show them what there is out there right here in this community that they can prepare for.”
Rutledge also noted the supervisors demonstrated the key technological advances in the area that may otherwise go unnoticed.
“The technology that is in this area is actually amazing compared to what it used to be,” he said.
Adams noted other options for youth involvement in the local political scene include summer employment as part of the township maintenance crew.