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Great Bend youth go behind the scenes
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Students try on tactical police gear at a previous City of Great Bend Youth Academy. The next Academy takes place this Friday, giving youths a behind-the-scenes look at city departments. Theyll also share their own ideas for the citys future. - photo by Tribune file photo

Great Bend students will get a chance to go behind the scenes and see what makes the city run, from street maintenance to law enforcement.
This Friday, June 10, if you see local youth being hauled around in police cars or in the back of ambulances it is not because they are in trouble with the law or injured in an accident.
Approximately 80 seventh and eighth graders are participating in the annual Youth Academy classes sponsored by the City of Great Bend.
“We want to be known as the city that listens to our kids and we want our kids to have so much fun growing up in Great Bend that someday, when they are ready to settle down and start a family, we hope they will remember how much fun Great Bend was for them and will consider coming back to live.” Mayor Mike Allison said,
The students are gaining a behind the scenes glance at the different city departments.
According to Howard Partington, Great Bend city administrator, the academy allows for hands on learning for the students.
This summer’s academies bring a total of 44 different Youth Academy classes the city has conducted over the past 15 years, representing over 1,400 student participants.
The students participate in training exercises with the Police Department’s Tactical Team, shoot fire hoses, are involved with a mock medical emergency at the fire department, drive high loaders, ride 35 feet in the air in bucket trucks at Public Works and also make stops at the Waste Water Treatment Plant and Park Departments before being treated to lunch with Mayor Mike Allison and City Council Members.
“An important aspect of the academy is an idea exchange with City Leaders,” Partington said. “The exchange insures that the youth have input into their city government. Many city projects have been completed as a result of this important session.”
According to Cpl. Jefferson Davis of the Great Bend Police Department, another success of the Academy is the number of former participants who are returning to Great Bend to live and work after they have graduated from college.
Annually, city leaders visit state universities to re-connect with past Youth Academy participants and other Great Bend High School graduates.
Great Bend businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and City Administrators have a plan in place to specifically help college graduates from Great Bend High School find jobs in Great Bend that fit their career fields.
In recent years, Great Bend had seen a return of many past Youth Academy participants who are now graduating from college.