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Yorktown Students Experience Government

Students at Yorktown High School don't just learn about participation in government, they actually get to participate.

Nearly 45 students completed either a year-long or half-year internship that fulfilled a New York State curriculum requirement for their participation in government class. Students presented what they learned Monday night.

“It just teaches kids that learning isn’t something you just do in school, if you’re open to learning it’s there at all times all around you,” said Steven Rome, a high school social studies teacher who is the coordinator for the civic internships.

Jeremy Katz, who interned with Sen. Schumer (D-NY), shared that he did a lot of work involving constituents -- whether it was answering questions or arranging meetings. Part of his job was to file articles that the senator would read, a task he said he didn’t fully realize the implications of until he saw it in action.

“We would clip out articles on a daily basis, and then the next day we would see that the senator was doing something about it the next day—that was really interesting,” he said.

Katz said a lot of his time was spent answering phone calls from constituents who were sometimes frustrated, but he said this gave him a view into what it’s like to deal with a community. “It really allowed me to see things that were going on in the community,” he said.

As Rome explained, all of the internships needed to have some foundation in government, but not all connections were as obvious as Katz’s who worked in an actual government office. Several students interned at nonprofit organizations because the groups are government-funded or act as an extension of services for the government.

Ashley King worked at the Westmoreland Sanctuary and learned about the environment and sustainability.

“It was something new for me because I’ve never really got to do a lot of things with the environment,” she said. “This was a great way for me to learn about it by doing it.” She added that a lot of the programs not only taught her lessons about the environment, but were geared to teach children -- something she found helpful since she plans to be an elementary school teacher.

The students must intern for at least 3 hours a week, which is the equivalent of taking the participation in government class, and they can pick from a list of internships compiled by Rome. The options include a range of internships with the water department, guiding eyes for the blind, Yorktown museum, town court and a wolf conservation center.

Still, s?ome students??????????? ?h?a?v?e? ?c?h?o?s?e??????????????n? their own internship, such as Becky Berlin, who chose to intern at the Jan Peek House????.? ?Berlin said she learned how to file and organize food ?d?u?r?i?n?g? ?h?e?r? ?i?n?t?e?r?n?s?h?i?p, which is one of three branches operated by Caring for the Homeless of Peekskill (CHOP)?.???????????????????????????????????????????

“I learned not to take anything for granted, that anyone can lose their job and need help,” she said. “But I also learned that there is help and you can go somewhere like the Jan Peek house to get that help.”?

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