What does it mean to be a good citizen?
First-graders from Lancaster Elementary School spent the day learning exactly that on Thursday, Oct. 3.
The students spent time at the Huntington Fire Department, mayor's office, police department and Love INC as part of their Huntington Citizenship Field Trip.
Starting the day at the fire department, students were given the opportunity to meet firefighters and see where they work and sleep at the fire station.
Jeanne Paff, first grade teacher, says the firefighters were able to explain to her students that no matter what, no matter when - even if they are in the shower - if the fire alarm goes off, their response must be immediate.
Paff says the children also saw how different a firefighter's schedule is from a regular citizen's. Students saw the sleeping quarters, the firefighter's pole and also interacted with a firefighter in full gear.
"It showed them what to expect, and how a firefighter would look and sound (in an emergency situation)," Paff explains.
Students then traveled to the mayor's office, where Paff says the students learned how the mayor got his job, and also met the clerk/treasurer.
Paff says students asked questions like "What happens if the money runs out?" and then answered a poll, whether or not the they thought chickens should be allowed in town - a hot topic among city officials currently.
"They thought it would be a good idea, and the eggs would be very healthy," Paff says with a smile.
Afterward, the students traveled to the police station, where they met the police chief and talked about how the police force keeps people safe.
Paff says here they learned about the difference between a police officer and fireman's schedule, and the importance of helping people in our community.
Paff was pleased when her students who asked how to become a police officer were met with the answer of the importance of education - particularly graduating from college.
"We just came off a week of promoting college graduation, so that was a great tie-in," she notes.
After leaving the police station, they went to their last stop on the tour - Love INC.
Love INC, or Love In the Name of Christ, serves those in need through their food pantry and resale shop.
Unanimously, this was the students' favorite stop.
Here, Paff says the lesson was two-fold.
"We wanted them to bring in donated food, and to understand the importance of volunteering," she says.
The students boxed food for shelving in the establishment's food panty and took a tour of the entire building, including the offices and Covered with Love - the resale store.
"My favorite part was helping put away the stuff (cans of food)," says student Tony Decker. "Because when I put away things, I feel good about myself for helping people."
Decker says he brought in one can of food to donate to the pantry, and he is happy that it will feed a hungry child like himself.
"This is different than I expected," he says of the pantry, "I thought it would be bigger."
His classmate, Claire Eckert, also enjoyed her visit to Love INC.
"The part with the cans was my favorite," she says. "People that don't have jobs and have kids that are hungry can come eat it."
She says knowing she is helping those people makes her feel - in a word - "happy."
The pair worked with another student, Jamison Martz, during their stop at the food pantry. The trio worked together to help open boxes of canned goods and transport them from that box to smaller containers so they could be placed on shelves for donation.
Originally published Oct. 3, 2013.
Together, the three of them sped through each box, finishing transporting the goods almost as soon as the box was put down in front of them.
"(My class) is a great group of kids," says Paff.
Lancaster first-graders take this field trip each year, explains Paff.
She says the purpose is to learn what it means to be good community members - to be leaders and helpers. She says it helps students to understand what it means to have a job and be responsible, but most of all she says, "It teaches ways all of us can help each other."
Complete caption: Lancaster Elementary School first-graders Tony Decker (left), Jamison Martz (top right) and Claire Eckert help transport canned goods from large boxes to smaller cardboard pallets so the cans can easily be accessed on shelves in the Love INC food pantry. The students volunteered their help as part of their Huntington Citizenship Field Trip on Thursday, Oct. 3.