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West Sacramento Sun

West Sacramento Community Academy Praised

May 29, 2024 10:55AM ● By Angela Underwood

West Sacramento City Community Academy proudly poses with Mayor Martha Guerrero and City Council after being proclaimed the first graduating class of the long-awaited program. Photo courtesy of the City of West Sacramento


WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - While many groups can say they graduated in 2024, only a few can claim they are the first graduating class of a select group.

According to West Sacramento Mayor Martha Guererro, the 2024 West Sacramento Community Academy class is officially the first long-awaited group awarded a proclamation at the May 15 regular City Council meeting. 

"Our council wants to come down and take a picture with the first class; this is a historic moment," Guererro said after reading words of accolade to the class.

Trust in government is the most valuable lesson that Justin Pine learned, according to Pine, after the mayor officially proclaimed the first graduating cohort of the West Sacramento City Community Academy.

"I am part of the first cohort of the West Sac Community Academy; I just want to thank you for providing this community academy class," Pine said. "I learned a lot about my city through this class, but more importantly, I gained a lot of trust in the people running this city."

When reading the proclamation, Guerrero paused before stating, "The diverse group of residents in the Community Academy embodies the spirit of inclusivity, unity and community, characteristics that define and distinguish the City of West Sacramento."

"I just love looking at all of you while I say that," Guerrero said, looking up from the proclamation. "Whereas participants in this year's cohort of the Community Academy are now better prepared to participate actively in the city's civic life."

Creating an academy was not easy. In 2023, the council adopted a Strategic Plan Policy Agenda to create a community academy. The free program, held over seven-week sessions on Tuesday nights, gave students a three-hour look into their government.

From March 19 to May 15, participants saw staff-developed presentations, learned through games and activities and had behind-the-scenes West Sacramento tours. Every Tuesday, city department heads educated students on respective operations through hands-on activities for interactive learning.

The first goal was to increase participants' understanding of local government, including council decisions, allocated fund processes and department operations.

The second goal was to promote civic engagement that encourages positive involvement and volunteerism.

The third goal of the academy, to promote future community leadership through shared knowledge, ties in with the final and fourth goal of providing networking opportunities with West Sacramento city staff and residents.

"It was clear they put a lot of time and effort into the presentations they had for us," Pine said of the program, adding a special thanks to city analyst Kaisa and administrative analyst Katie Rogers, who led the program.

"They made me feel welcome and made the class exciting every Tuesday after a long day of work, and this would not have been the same program without them," Pine added.

Guererro thanked leaders and the hand-picked participants, who she said were selected through "a very careful process to make sure that we have the diversity and representation."

"You did all the hard work behind the scenes; it was something the council has wanted to do for a while and I am glad it happened," Guererro said.

As the mayor calls it, the "peek behind the veil" allowed participants to see the staff, who are "forced behind the City Hall walls."

 "I don't think they get enough credit and recognition from the community, and as our first class, thank you for sharing those words and reflecting on what we see as council members," Guererro said. "We know sometimes staff get picked on a lot in the public or here in council and it is really unfair. They can't speak up, and they can't run up to the mic and defend themselves."

The graduate said he was "extremely impressed with the professionalism, preparedness and poise that every department brings each week while pointing to some of the city staff in the audience.

"They were engaging, responsive to our many questions," Pine said.

For an up-close look into the city's government through the West Sacramento Community Academy, visit https://www.cityofwestsacramento.org/government/departments/city-manager-s-office/west-sacramento-community-academy.

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