Jelinek gives lesson in state civics

Published 8:20 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Fourth graders at Eastside School made their annual educational trip to Lansing on Friday, Oct. 24.
On Monday, State Sen. Ron Jelinek Rep-Three Oaks, visited the students in their classrooms at Eastside to explain more about his job and how the state government operates.
Many of the students had prepared questions for Jelinek, some related to his job, and some not.
One student asked Jelinek whether he had ever been to the White House, another how often he meets state Governor Jennifer Granholm.
Another student asked how many bills were passed in the state Senate last month.
Jelinek, a former teacher at River Valley High School, visits schools throughout the year, which gives the young students an opportunity to interact with a legislator.
He was unable to meet with the Eastside students when they were in Lansing.
Jelinek said there are several projects that promote math and science, but few projects that focus on civics.
Jelinek hopes the civics project might encourage some students to focus on politics and social studies as they go through school.
Pat Roggen is one of the two Eastside teachers who took their students to Lansing.
She said all fourth graders in Niles visit Lansing.
Roggen, who has made the trip ten times, takes her fourth graders to Lansing in the fall because there are fewer people touring the state government buildings then.
Before going to Lansing, Roggen said the students talk in class about Michigan's history and how bills are made into law.
They also write letters to Jelinek each year before visiting, she said.
When in Lansing, the students visited the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Justice building and the Supreme Court, she said.
But the students also visited Lansing's Historical Museum, which displays Michigan's history.
She thinks visiting Lansing and touring the buildings gives the students a broader perspective of what goes on in the state.
Taylor Farmer, 10, said he had a great trip to Lansing.
Visiting the state capitol made him get a better understanding of how state government operates, he said.
He said the trip may even have sparked an interest in him to learn more about politics and government in the future.
Although the trip was educational, it was also a fun day for the students and a chance to see some of the state capitol's architecture.
The glass floor referred to is located in the state's Capitol.
It is made up of 976 pieces of glass. Each is about five-eights of an inch thick. The floor is 44 1/2 feet in diameter.
The floor's design creates an optical illusion and seen from above it appears that the center of the floor sinks to form a bowl.