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by Mark Cheffey
Palmyra Elementary School first graders are learning about the importance of community and their place in it.
Through a Community Neighbors program, the students are finding out the importance of community through invited guest speakers as well as tours of local establishments.
PES students are very familiar with the character traits they study, including safety, responsibility, kindness and respect, and what they mean to them, but now they learn how those relate to their neighbors out in the community.
Every Friday, the students get to hear from people out in the community such as nurses, school officials and police officers, and learn about the character traits they possess.
Then, this past Tuesday, all 94 first graders were bused downtown where they went to a bank and city hall and not only tour the facilities, but also hear about what the people who work there do in their jobs.
Kathy Keim, one of the school’s first grade teachers, said the students really embrace the opportunity to learn about other places in their community.
“They love when the visitors come here, and also when they get to go inside some of the places,” Keim said. “Some of them have never been in a bank before, and most of them have never been inside city hall.
“They got to meet the mayor and ask questions about what the city does for us.”
And, in the process, the students learn how the familiar character traits are important out in the community.
“And the kids were able to make the connection,” Keim said, noting the speakers and tour guides were able to relate to the traits first hand.
“For example, they have to be responsible going to work every day, while (the students) have a responsibility to come to school every day.
“And, so they’re making the connection with the community and the school.”
The program will continue with more guests speakers scheduled for upcoming Fridays to talk about everything from operating a farm to running a business.
Later, the students will write about selected community helpers they might like to be when they are adults.