Seventh-graders take over Arkansas City

By Jeni Payne
Arkansas City Traveler – April 23, 2015

An Arkansas City firefighter show two middle school students how the aerial platform ladder works. Photos by Donita Clausen.

An Arkansas City firefighter show two middle school students how the aerial platform ladder works. Photos by Donita Clausen.

An Arkansas City Middle School seventh-grader lowers herself to the ground after firefighters teach her how to use the ropes

An Arkansas City Middle School seventh-grader lowers herself to the ground after firefighters teach her how to use the ropes

Twelve lucky seventh-graders had the opportunity to tour some of the City of Arkansas City’s prominent departments this week.

Each of the winners was able to tour the Arkansas Fire-EMS and Police departments, and to observe some of the functions of the public works department.

The students were chosen from a pool of 40 middle schoolers, based on an essay they wrote as part of a statewide writing competition.

“If I Were Mayor” is an essay competition put on by the League of Kansas Municipalities with the intent of encouraging seventh-graders to be civically active.

After City Manager Nick Hernandez addressed the middle school students in March about how the local Arkansas City government functions, the students were asked to write about what they would do to improve the quality of life in Arkansas City if they were the city manager.

“In my essay, I said I would make Kansas and C Street three lanes,” said Taryn Rich.

Hernandez lauded the idea, acknowledging that the intersection did become clogged before and after school.

Language arts teachers chose the top 12 essays.

Teachers Clint Lawson and Aaron O’Donnell accompanied their students on the outings.

The top 12 essay writers will be recognized at the May 5 City Commission meeting according to Hernandez.

While at the fire-EMS department, the students took a tour of the facility and were able to spend extra time with one of the aerial platform trucks.

The students were able to climb on top of the truck, then to the platform with direct supervision.

They also were able to see the city from a point of view that not many are able to see — from a fully extended ladder.

That height is somewhere near 100 feet tall.

When a dumpster fire was called in Wednesday morning, the first group of students was able to put on fireproof suits and accompany firefighters on the call.

In fact, two lucky students were allowed to assist safely in extinguishing the small dumpster fire at Casey’s General Store, located at the intersection of Madison Avenue and South Summit Street.

The last activity that the students were able to participate in involved using the department’s ropes and harnesses.

Students were put into the harnesses, and were able to lower themselves down from a height of 10 to 15 feet.

At the police department, students were given a tour of the facility and were able to go on ride-alongs with the officers on duty.

The seventh-graders were in the police vehicles as officers performed daily duties, including pulling over traffic violators.

The visit to the oublic works department included several activities.

The first was a tour of the levee from Chestnut Avenue to ADM Milling.

Students were able to assist in the clearing of trees with the city’s excavator.

Last on the list of stops with the public works department was a trip to either the waste water treatment plant or the water treatment plant.

“If they can tell me what happens to our waste water, we’ll tour the water treatment plant,” said Public Works Director Eric Broce.

As of noon Wednesday, none of the students had toured the water treatment plant.



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