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West Covina Mayor visited Hollingworth Elementary School

By Hillary Smith, Correspondentsgvtribune.com
Posted: 04/26/2012 06:58:23 PM PDT

West Covina Mayor Mike Touhey visited students at Hollingworth Elementary School. (Courtesy photo)Being mayor is so easy second graders can do it.

That's not anywhere near the truth, of course, but it didn't stop the second graders of Hollingworth Elementary School in West Covina from voting for their own mayors and learning about the campaign process in a hands-on way.

Each second-grade class made its own city, wrote individual speeches and then voted on a mayor. After they did that, West Covina Mayor Mike Touhey came to their classes to hear their speeches and talk to them about mayoral duties.

The Rowland Unified school has done the program for six years, according to second-grade teacher Stephanie McCallie.

"In social studies we're working on a unit called 'Governing the People."' said McCallie, who has been teaching at the school for 12 years. "We're studying community and state government. Each second-grade class created their own community."

Every class made its own city which they named themselves, and students had to design their own promotional poster and present a speech no longer than one page. Some of the names of the invented cities were Fun City, Star City, and Candy City - pretty standard stuff for second-graders.

McCallie said she was pleased with how the kids got involved with the projects and really cared about their own cities.

"They are all very compassionate, a lot of their ideas come out of helping the homeless, building orphanages ... all of it had to do with the compassion

in their hearts," she said. "I didn't guide that, I just said `Think about what you'd want.' So they said stuff like cleaning up graffiti because of the neighborhood that surrounds them, picking up trash and making sure no one steals anything from anybody. A lot of it was really simple, but something that's close to their hearts, that they're aware of."
Second-grader Dante Ramos, one of the world's "youngest mayors" has a few things on his list that he would do for his Star City as mayor.

"I would make sure that everyone throws trash in the garbage, and I would make sure the roads are nice and clean," he said.

Touhey taught Ramos and the other students about different responsibilities he has in his job.

"The mayor has a lot of paperwork to do and they check if there is graffiti on the wall," Ramos said. "You have to wake up early in the morning and check if there were any fires that happened overnight."

As mayor of Star City, Ramos and the students decided to put in a water park, bike shop, food court, houses and parking lots in the city.

Touhey got a kick out of seeing the kids get excited about their own cities and said it's a great idea to introduce them to the process.

"I think it has a positive impact and encourages them to strive, and I told them, `Sometimes you guys are going to be put on the spot, you're going to have to decide what's right - that's truly a test,"' he said. "I do that each and every day. Just because it's right doesn't mean it's going to be popular. Unfortunately, that's part of the process."

Seven-year-olds can be quite a bunch to work with and talk to, but Touhey seemed to love their candidness.

"The kids were innocent," he said. "They're great, I enjoyed it. It's just neat interacting with that age, they are very humble and honest."

One of the students even asked Touhey's age.

"They were either high or low," he said. "Someone goes, `Oh, are you twenty-something?' Oh thank you! Then someone says, `Are you 86?' I was either crying or laughing. It was a great experience."