A fourth-grade class course of study at Rosedale Elementary School recently culminated with a visit to the school from local law enforcement personnel for a discussion of a variety of subjects.

According to the fourth-graders’ teacher, Melinda Foster-Michel, the project was geared toward guiding the students in “Social Studies West Virginia Next Generation Standards” such as identifying, explaining and critiquing American democratic values, principles and beliefs; and comparing and contrasting powers of branch of government, responsibilities and rights.

Questions asked included: What was put in place by the Founding Fathers to ensure a fair and equitable set of laws that is relevant to our society today?; What three branches of government were created in the U.S. Constitution?; and Who are our leaders in each of these branches?

Fayette County Sheriff Steve Kessler, Chief Deputy Mike Fridley, Sgt. Nick Mooney and Mooney’s K-9 partner, Riko, were on hand to discuss a variety of topics concerning the operation of the department, and the activities included a demonstration by Mooney and Riko.

“We just go out to educate the kids about a wide range of things,” said Fridley. Included was the importance of the children staying away from strangers and saying no to drugs, as well as weapons safety.

During its project, Foster-Michel’s class researched the election process and the three branches of government, in addition to following local leaders throughout the election process via the Internet, local news and family resources. Among the resources they utilized were: www.sweetsearch.com, www.wveis.k12.wv.us, www.fayettesheriffwv.net and www.fayettecounty.wv.gov.

Rosedale Elementary is equipped with a computer lab and Grade 4 shares a mobile lab with enough laptop computers for each student/classroom, according to Foster-Michel.

“These 21st Century Learners are very technologically aware as they utilized the technology as tools throughout this research process,” she said. “In addition to our Internet sources, we followed the election process via television, the newspaper and other media resources.

“It was exciting to finally learn who our leaders would be on Election Night.”

On the day following the election, the students and their teacher discussed their president, vice president, governor and sheriff. Besides learning about the election process, the students learned about different points of view, different beliefs and democracy.

“We are a community of learners, so this was a great learning opportunity for us to not only learn about each office and the roles our leaders facilitate, but also how to collaborate, even when we agree and disagree as we live in a country where we are free to express our voices,” she said.

The students learned that the sheriff serves as the county’s chief law enforcement officer, as well as being the county treasurer and collecting taxes. He may serve only two consecutive terms, they also learned.

“We were really excited to have a visit from Sheriff Kessler at Rosedale Elementary School,” said Foster-Michel. “He spoke to our entire school and brought Officer Fridley, Officer Mooney and Riko.”

During his remarks, Kessler discussed what is involved in the operation of his department. He also thanked the students for their interest and cooperation, and stressed the importance of teachers to the development and nurturing of young children.

“Be respectful and listen to your teachers,” he urged.

Principal Ted Dixon praised the sheriff’s department for being “community helpers.”

Foster-Michel says her class extends a big thanks to Kessler and his department for helping conclude their project.

“We learned that government is not just the three branches of government that we memorize in a textbook,” she said. “We learned that we are the people of the United States of America. We are proud to be citizens Fayette County, West Virginia.

“Even as kids, we can learn about our government and make a real difference in our community and world.”

The students took a lot of vital information away from the presentation, their teacher said.

“I learned that, if there is ever a stranger, I should run away and scream “Stranger!,’” said Ciera Wheeler.

“I knew that Sheriff Kessler was Fayette County sheriff, because my mom works at the public defender’s office,” said Logan Lawhorn.

“The sheriff is in charge of our sheriff’s department,” said student Cayden Cox. “He monitors the county’s taxes.”

“You should say no to any drugs that people have, unless you are prescribed to take them by a doctor,” added Alex Thompson.  

“I learned that there are people, who will run away from the police, but Riko helps capture them. I am a citizen. I wouldn’t run away,” said Samuel Nichols. “I can help my community by picking up litter. I’m a Boy Scout.”

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