Kaitlyn Tanner hasn't completed elementary school yet, but she is the youngest participant to graduate from the Dawson County Citizens Academy.
"I wanted to take the class to learn more about Dawson County," the 10 year old said last week. "It was fun. I learned a lot about the county government."
The free, 10-week course gives participants an up-close look at the inner workings of county government through one-on-one interaction with local officials and those responsible for day-to-day operations of government.
Tanner attended the first class with her father, County Manager Kevin Tanner, who was on hand to welcome this year's participants and thank them for taking an active role in their community.
On the way home that night, the fourth grader asked when she could take the class.
"Normally it's for adults, but I said ‘Whenever you can get a ride,'" Kevin Tanner said. "So she got my phone and called my mom."
Linda Tanner, a lifelong Dawson County resident, was hesitant at first, but last week said she is glad she agreed to take the course with her granddaughter.
"I've lived here my whole life, and I learned so much about how our government works," Linda Tanner said. "The one thing that impressed me the most was the dedication and commitment the employees have to this county."
Now in its fourth year, the award-winning course provides an in-depth look at the diverse activities of Dawson County government taught by local government staff.
Classes met at various locations throughout the community including fire stations, the Dawson County Law Enforcement Center and the courthouse.
The tours coupled with the information she learned have Kaitlyn Tanner considering careers in government, she said.
She also plans to encourage her friends to join her for next year's academy.
Kevin Tanner and commission chairman Mike Berg passed out completion certificates to more than two dozen residents during a commencement dinner for the graduates Nov. 1 in the Gordon Pirkle room at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex.
"I'm proud of my daughter, and I'm proud of all of you who graduated," he said.
For more information on the academy, call (706) 344-3501, Ext. 255, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.