Five members of the City’s Youth Advisory Committee got a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of municipal government during a day shadowing Perris planners, administrators, parks and recreation staff and police officers.
The YAC students spending time on the job with City staff and representatives attend Rancho Verde High School and were on spring break. The exercise in observing local government was aimed at providing the teenagers with an understanding of what Perris municipal employees do to make the City run smoothly.
It was more than an academic endeavor.
This day of job-shadowing saw the students ride in police cars and respond to emergency calls, inspect playground equipment for safety, visit on housing construction site, observe the City’s audio-visual production facility and observe job interviews with prospective Perris municipal workers.
“It’s a great opportunity to introduce our young people to the spectrum of the work we do,” said Perris City Manager Richard Belmudez. “They learn about the different aspects of City government.”
The Rancho Verde students included Victoria Mac, Shaeera Ahmed, Martin Medrano, Princess De la Cruz and Josue Santana.
Mac, 16, shadowed Belmudez as he attended a meeting with the City engineer’s office to discuss plans for the new Clearwater Elementary School, which will be built near Murrieta and Evans roads. The new campus will house 850-kindergarten through sixth-grade students and could be open by mid-2016.
Mac said she learned that senior administrators meet—often.
“When you’re a City manager, you spend a lot of times in meetings,” she said.
Medrano shadowed IT manager Arturo Cervantes and graphic designer Marden De Castro, who gave him a look at the electronic voting system used during City Council meetings. They also showed him the iPads that are saving at least 20,000 pages of paper every year. They also showed him the production facility where all City meetings are recorded and stored.
Medrano said he enjoyed the visit.
“They know their stuff,” he said. “Their work helps every department in the City.”
De la Cruz, 16, accompanied Planning Manager Clara Miramontes and planner Nathan Perez as they inspected homes under construction in a subdivision in the City’s south end. The City officials checked to make sure landscaping and paint-schemes and materials complied with Perris standards.
“We’re professionals and we want to give our future leaders the tools to make choices for their future,” Miramontes said.
De la Cruz said she learned that the building process begins before a single shovel of dirt is turned over, when plans, schematics and environmental impact reports are scrutinized.
“It’s a long, complicated process,” she said.
The appearance of Garcia, the WBO super featherweight, created quite a stir as long lines of people waited to get his autograph and purchase t-shirts and other memorabilia. In his comments to the crowd, Garcia said three qualities make a champ: “lots of hard work, patience and dedication.”
“You don’t become a champion overnight,” Garcia said, then added a message of support to all those participating in the skills camp: “I actually admire you a lot.”
That message struck home with many of the young prospective boxers.
Leticia Jimenez, 18, said she’s trained at P-Town for two years. She said she enjoys learning self defense, getting in shape that boxing requires and meeting new friends while training. Boxing keeps the 550 or so P-Town members occupied and out of trouble.
“You learn how to be respectful and how to have fun,”
Jimenez, a Citrus Hill High School senior, said of her training time at P-Town. Jimenez is planning to study pharmacology at CalState Fullerton with plans of becoming a pharmacist. She said she enjoys living in Perris because it is “a great community that is generous, helpful and friendly.”
Ahmed, 16, spent several hours cruising Perris streets with a deputy assigned to the City. She responded to a report of a suspicious person and witnessed the officer write some traffic citations.
“I came away with a new appreciation for the dangers police officers face every day,” she said.
Sanchez, 17, accompanied Recreation Coordinator Josh Estrada to Mercado Park to observe safety equipment at the popular playground and chat with an expert in the field. He said his experience as a job-shadow revealed that a collaborative approach is needed to best address community concerns.
“Lots of times you have to work with a lot of different people to come up with reasonable ways to solve community concerns,” he said.