COVINGTON - Second-graders at Ficquett Elementary School took a special field trip across town Tuesday morning. They met with Covington Mayor Kim Carter on the steps of the Newton County Historic Courthouse to ask her a few questions.
"We're studying government and the different levels," said Wendi Carnes, a second-grade teacher at Ficquett who helped organize the trip. "It helps them put a face with a name. They see President (Barack) Obama and sometimes see Gov. (Sonny) Perdue (on television and in newspapers), and now they get to see the mayor."
Lori Banks, another second-grade teacher at the school, said the students are learning several Georgia Performance Standards, such as identifying the roles of elected officials, including the president, leader of the nation; the governor, leader of the state; and mayor, leader of the city. They also are learning how to define the concept of government and the need for rules and laws.
Students gathered in three groups to ask the mayor such questions as, "What do you like best about your job?" "Have you ever been to the White House?" and "What's your favorite color?"
"I think it's very important that they learn about government," Carter said, adding that she has spoken to students at several schools in their classrooms, but this was her first field trip. "I love the kids. I'd do anything for them."
After they asked their questions of the mayor, students took pictures with her, hugged her and received city of Covington key chains.
Teachers said meeting with the mayor made the students feel special, and some of the students even wrote about their meeting and created some illustrations of her.
"It's very much an honor," said second-grader David Coffee. "It's the mayor."
Questions students posed to the mayor and her replies:
Are you the president of Covington?
"I'm the top elected official for the city of Covington, so I'm like the president of Covington," Carter said. "That's a good analogy."
Have you met President Barack Obama?
"I read about him all of the time, but I've never met him," she said. "I have met Gov. Sonny Perdue ... and he's a very nice man. He's even been to Covington."
What is your favorite color?
Do you have fun at your job?
"I do have fun at my job," Carter said. "It's not so fun sometimes - when you have to make tough decisions - but this part of my job (meeting with students) is great."
Have you been to the White House?
She said she had visited the White House on a school trip when she was in sixth grade. "It's very impressive," Carter said. "If you ever get a chance to go, you should go."
What is your favorite part of the job?
"Doing ceremonial things," she said. "It's always nice to get out and talk about how great Covington is and how to make it better."
What is your least favorite part?
"When you have something really controversial and you have people arguing back and forth and you have to settle the argument," she said. "But I haven't had to do too much of that."
Why are you the mayor?
"The people elected me to be the mayor ... because they had confidence that I'd do a good job and lead the city of Covington," Carter said.
Do you have any children?
Carter said she did not and told the group she and her husband have been married for 28 years.
"Right now we have an adopted kitty cat," she said. "He was a stray and took up with us."
Do you like cats and dogs?
The mayor said she did like them and that she grew up with a dog as a child, but she has had mostly cats as an adult.
"Cats are a little easier to take care of, but I like all animals," she said.
Do you like being mayor?
"I do like it; it's very fun," she said. "It's very rewarding. I want to help people in my community."
Why did you want to be mayor?
"I believe if you want to make things happen, you can't just sit back and talk about it," she said. "You have to go out. ... I want to see Covington be the best it can be."
Is it hard being mayor?
"Sometimes it's hard," she said. "It depends what the topic is ... but it's fun, too; I like it."
Do you work at night?
"I have to work at night and on the weekends," she said, adding that she attends training and events at various times and days. "I'm a full-time mayor. ... People can call me anytime, and they do."
Do you get a break?
"Yes, I get to take vacations," she said.
She told the students she took a summer vacation and might take another one soon since the weather has cooled down some.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.