PEABODY — The city finance team was nestled in the basement conference room of City Hall yesterday going over important initiatives from last year.
"If Adam wants to talk about what we've done this past year, he can," said City Collector Mary Codair, gesturing to the young man seated in front of her.
"Well, I haven't been here that long," said Adam Fleischer, a Peabody High senior, drawing laughs from the small group.
Fleischer and about 70 of his senior classmates spent the morning at City Hall yesterday taking part in Student Government Day, learning firsthand how the city government runs.
"I hope today is enjoyable for everyone and you learn something about what we do," said Patricia Schaffer, the city finance director.
Student Government Day began about 40 years ago and pairs high school students with government officials for the day. They shadow city workers for the first half of the day, learning about their jobs and all the intricacies that go into running a city. Mayor Ted Bettencourt participated when he was a high school student, he said.
"It's mostly for the kids to get a sense of how the government works," said Ken McCue, the head of the social studies department at the high school and the man in charge of Student Government Day.
The program is planned a year in advance by McCue and Mary Bellavance, the assistant to the mayor. Interested students attend a brief overview meeting in October where they learn about the different positions, including mayor, City Hall reporter and everything in between. Then students apply for and are elected to a position based on voting by their peers.
Although you wouldn't know it from all the bustle yesterday, the program wasn't as popular this year as it has been in the past.
"There were probably six positions which no one even ran for. That's never happened before since I've been here," said Bellavance, who has helped run the program the past 28 years.
McCue thinks there is less appeal now because students have so many other things going on.
"Kids are just busier and busier every year, because there are more things to do," he said. "Now there's more going on, more clubs, more sports."
Staff writer Jesse Roman contributed to this story.