For more than a dozen residents of Desert Hot Springs, Tuesday night was a unique graduation ceremony.
Driving the news: The 15 community members who received certificates from Mayor Scott Matas are the first class to graduate from the city’s Civics Academy, a first-of-its-kind program in the Coachella Valley.
Closer look: During the seven-week program that began in October, participants were introduced to nearly every aspect of city government and the inner workings of multiple departments.
- They met weekly at City Hall, learning about topics ranging from code compliance to the city manager’s office.
Credit for guiding the graduates along the path to better civic awareness goes to Emily Pearson, the executive assistant to City Manager Luke Rainey. As she read the names of graduates in City Council Chambers Tuesday evening, Pearson said they were not the only ones who benefited.
- “I really have to say that I learned a ton during the course,” she said. “It was a total team effort.”
Why it matters: “You can’t believe everything on the Internet,” Pearson later joked. That’s undoubtedly true, and programs such as Civics Academy help cut through misinformation about the community by placing citizens directly in front of city leaders with the goal to “educate, engage, and inform” them.
- The hope is that the new graduates, armed with facts about how the city actually works, will not only feel more connected to City Hall but help combat misinformation online and in person.
What they’re saying: “I know so much more about the city of Desert Hot Springs than anybody here now,” joked Walker Beverly after receiving his certificate.