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Government class aims to engage students
Government Class pic
Students in Deanna Duff’s Dawson County High School ninth grade social studies class act out a mock car accident in which students playing various county officials determine the cause of the wreck. The unique class introduces students to county government. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Government isn’t typically on the list of favorite high school subjects.


But students admit they are enjoying a unique government class being offered exclusively at Dawson County High School.


Known as Dawson County B.E.S.T., or Building Educated Students for Tomorrow, the ninth grade course is a collaborative effort between the school system and the county government.


“I have found that most adults, well-educated individuals, do not have very much knowledge about how local government runs and functions,” said Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner, who first proposed the idea more than a year ago.


The class, he said, is “an effort to try to educate people about their government.”


Four days each week, representatives from various local government offices visit the class to discuss their positions in the county and how their work affects the community.


Field trips to the county government centers are also a part of the curriculum, which includes weekly testing on the material.


Dawson County High School Teacher Robin Jernigan said the class is unlike any she’s come across in her more than 20 years of teaching.


“I think the kids are really enjoying it,” Jernigan said.


As expected, though, the students had their favorite speakers and topics.


“They really enjoyed the tour of the jail,” Jernigan said. “And we still have the trip to the fire station.”


The course will culminate with mock elections, with those elected winning the opportunity to spend the day with the respective elected county official.


“The goal is that they gain a good understanding about government works at the local level,” Tanner said.


He said he also hopes the course engages the students and even their parents in their local government. 


“These young people have a lot of ideas. They have a lot to offer us as leaders in the community,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to open up a dialogue with the next generation of leaders coming into our community and having them better educated and better informed about what’s happening.”