Helman third-grade students meet the mayor

Mayor John Stromberg had two objectives this morning as he gave third-grade students a tour of City Hall: instill in them a sense of the importance of local government and set a record for fitting 27 of them in his office.

"This is the most third-graders that have ever been in the office of the mayor in the city of Ashland," he told the Helman Elementary School students huddled around his desk. "You just set a record."

Teacher Mark Sherbow asked the mayor to teach his students about the workings of city government as part of the third-grade curriculum, in which students learn about Ashland.

"We live in a participatory democracy and if we don't participate, then our government doesn't function properly," he said. "We have to instill this in children at a young age."

Before meeting the mayor, the students went to Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar for hot chocolates, in order to experience another part of the town, Sherbow said.

After Stromberg and City Administrator Martha Bennett spoke to the students, the mayor led them on tour of City Hall, 20 E. Main St. Stromberg instructed city employees to deliver a two-sentence description of their jobs to the group.

"My job is to give legal advice to the City Council and the mayor," City Attorney Richard Appicello said. "They ask questions and I answer them. That's what I do."

The children scolded Appicello for exceeding his two-sentence limit.

Stromberg said he was glad to have taught the students about how their city works.

"I'm trying to help them connect the dots and realize that city government does all of these things that we rely on daily," he said.

The mayor was overheard jokingly telling City Councilman David Chapman that he hopes photos and documentation of the visit is sent to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Gabriel Freedman, 8, said he enjoyed touring City Hall and meeting the mayor.

"I think he's really nice and fun and he has a great sense of humor," he said.

Gabriel said he is considering going into local politics or being a mayor when he grows up.

"I'll probably need to learn a little more about it first," he said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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