Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston visited the Newton County Theme School at Ficquett on Monday to speak with more than 100 second-grade students. He told them about being mayor and answered their questions. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
COVINGTON -- Some Newton County Theme School students felt like they met a celebrity on Monday morning.
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston visited the school to meet with more than 100 second-grade students.
As he walked in the media center, students pointed, smiled and looked excited about his visit.
"There's the mayor!" one student shouted with a smile on his face as he pointed to show the other students.
"When we first told the classes that Mayor Johnston was coming to speak to us, they were amazed and could not believe it," said second-grade teacher Brandi Hodges. "One student even shouted, 'But he's famous!' To our second-graders, he is just as famous as someone they see on television."
Johnston visited with the students for about an hour on Monday afternoon, telling them about his 11 months as mayor so far, some of his job duties and about the city of Covington, where the school is located.
"It's a great honor to be the mayor of Covington," he said. "Covington is a great, great place."
He even asked the students some questions to see how much they knew about the city and the mayor position -- how many council people represent Covington, how many cities are in Newton County and how long will he be mayor. Students were surprised to learn that he would be mayor for four years and he could run as many times as people voted him in office.
"Inviting Mayor Johnston to speak to us allowed the students to make a real-life connection to the outside world, thus making learning more meaningful to them," Hodges said.
Students asked him questions like if he voted for Barack Obama and if he has met him, how old he was and when was his birthday, where does he work, what is his favorite thing to do as mayor and what happens if the mayor does something bad.
And one student had a very important question after Johnston explained some new features of the Square, like the painted benches and new lighting: "If you can paint the benches, can you clean up the pond at the park, too?"
Johnston told the student that he would get the pond at Academy Springs Park cleaned. New playground equipment also is expected to arrive soon.
After his visit with the students, Johnston said he enjoys talking to students and telling them about government.
"I didn't understand it at that age," he said, adding that any school that asks him to come visit, he will do so. "They are our futures."
Johnston also got a chance to look at the students' projects of President Barack Obama, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and himself.
"Following Georgia Performance Standards in social studies, government is a big unit in second grade. In school, we learned who our president, governor and mayor is, as well as where they work and the jobs that they perform," Hodges said. "With this being an election year for president, it was particularly fun. NCTS is a project-based school, so students carried what they were learning home to create a project, detailing duties of each."
Some students pasted pictures of the three men on poster boards and others drew pictures of them.