Ravenna students who completed an internship with local government share their findings

After spending weeks in city and county offices learning first-hand what’s going on there, a team of 23 Ravenna High School seniors presented their findings to the community, including “community partners ” who had supervised the students.

Plus: A virtual tour of Ravenna:Civic Historic Buildings of Ravenna

Social studies professor Richard Sullivan said his colleague Matt Wunderle approached him two years ago with the idea of ​​a specialist civics course in Ravenna. The four-year program would allow students to learn global, national, and state government in the first three years, with a focus on local government in their final year.

Sullivan said that in the first semester of this school year, students received visits from elected officials, took field trips to local historic sites, and created a website offering a digital tour of buildings in the downtown, which included student research on downtown landmarks. A QR code, once scanned, takes visitors to the site.

Ravenna High School Civics teacher Richard Sullivan greeted visitors to the Honors Ravenna Civics class symposium held Monday, May 16 in the high school gymnasium.

During the second semester, students participated in two-week internship rotations, with each group spending two weeks learning about a different segment of government. Officials who worked with the students included Portage County Treasurer Brad Cromes, County Archivist Lori Calcei, Ravenna Mayor Frank Seman, Reed Memorial Library director Amy Young, and Pamela Nation Calhoun, who is director executive of the Portage Metropolitan Housing Authority and also sits on the Ravenna School Board.

Ravenna High School senior Morgan Skala shows visitors his presentation for the Ravenna Civics Honors class event held in the high school gymnasium on Monday.

So on Monday, members of the community visited the school to see presentations from each student team, as well as videos made by the groups detailing what the different offices do. Several students said the office tours opened their eyes to working behind the scenes in government offices, and some said they could see themselves working for the city or county one day.

Mariah Aiello said she enjoyed her visit to the mayor’s office and the sewage treatment plant and sewage treatment plant. While visiting the water treatment plant, she heard about a vacancy and considered applying.

Ravenna high school students Zack McFarland and Piper Hershberger discuss their Honors Ravenna Civics class presentation at an event held Monday at the high school.

Another group of students said they enjoyed their visits to county offices, especially the county clerk’s office. They said they didn’t realize that recorder Lori Calcei was working with so much history.

“It was very hands-on and they got us involved,” Morgan Skala said.

Calcei acknowledged that most people don’t know what his office does and wondered what students would find interesting in his office. So she tracked down a handwritten deed that once belonged to James A. Garfield, who became president, and asked the students to read it.

“It was a really good experience,” Calcei said. “I was so impressed with each one of them.”

Mayor Frank Seman, a former principal, said he enjoyed working with the students and thought it was a program other districts could easily replicate.

Ravenna High School seniors Alyssa Orona, left, and Julia Fedor give their Honors Ravenna Civics presentation to Ravenna Mayor Frank Seman at an event held at the high school on Monday.

“These children were able to go behind the scenes of government offices and see the effort needed to get things done,” he said.

Journalist Diane Smith can be reached at 330-298-1139 or [email protected]