OCA welcomes nearly 100 Lawless Elementary second graders to City Hall


Main: May 3, 2023- Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer shares a welcome message to Lawless Elementary second graders visiting City Hall. 

Bus Image: May 3, 2023- Fresno Unified School District buses arrive at Fresno City Hall transporting Lawless Elementary second graders and their teachers. 

The Office of Community Affairs (OCA) and the Planning and the Development Department teamed up to welcome 90 Lawless Elementary second grade students to City Hall. Lawless Elementary teacher, Mrs. Rocio Hernandez reached out to the OCA about the possibility of coordinating a school trip to City Hall to provide students with an up-close experience that would enhance their classroom instruction.

“Our students are learning about how government works and how it influences what happens in our country, city and neighborhoods. Having the opportunity to visit City Hall and meet the people who work there, especially our city’s mayor was an amazing experience for our students,” shared Ms. Hernandez.

Civic engagement with a kids’ point of view
The OCA authored a second-grade student-friendly city government presentation highlighting Fresno’s strong mayor municipal government. Lawless students learned about the roles and responsibilities for several city leaders including the mayor, city manager, council, attorney and clerk.

Students also got a glimpse of the city planner role. The Planning and Development Department organized an activity featuring oversized Lawless Elementary aerial neighborhood maps. For the hands-on project, students identified several key map destinations including their school, house and favorite neighborhood spots. They also ‘planned’ their neighborhood by adding tiny stickers and models representing stores, bike paths, street cafes, parks, tree paths and others.

Hands-on activity introduces youth to city planning
Planning Manager Sophia Pagoulatos and her team organized the planning activity. “Many times, careers, like city planning, are foreign concepts to students. Being introduced to these as a child opens their minds to greater future possibilities. And it’s important to make it fun and interactive,” said Pagoulatos.

The OCA used this opportunity to expand on its civic engagement goals to also include our city’s youth. Including youth enrichment services and activities in our city functions is among Mayor Dyer’s One Fresno priorities.

“It’s so important that we provide opportunities for students to see themselves in places like city hall—where they might otherwise not have access. This helps them see themselves in these positions and instills in them the thought that they too can be our city’s next leaders,” shared Deputy Mayor, Matthew Grundy.