Third-graders work at being good citizens

Never underestimate the power of a third-grader.

Students in Staci Bayliss' class at Fritsch Elementary School are improving the city, spreading patriotism and saving lives.

"They're not thinking small," Bayliss said. "They're thinking they can make large changes."

Perhaps the most noticeable change will come with the demolition of the abandoned ice cream shop, formerly the Penguin, next to the Arco station on the corner of Carson and William streets.

Andrew Zimmerman, 9, called city officials to complain of the eyesore.

"It's right next to the Capitol, and people who come to this city might think it's not good because it's so close to the Capitol," he said. "I wanted to help our city."

Other changes are more subtle.

After studying the significance of the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom, 8-year-old Kelsey Long wanted to know more. So she called the American Legion and asked for a presentation.

The presentation led to a flag retirement ceremony Wednesday morning for all of the school's third-graders.

"I learned that the flag has to be respected," Kelsey said. "I don't like it when people be rude to it. I think all of the kids learned something."

The students are also learning that change often comes after much perseverance.

Kate Dunlap, 8, called the hospital about six times and was transferred various times just to end up at voice mail when trying to secure a cardiopulmonary resuscitation class for her classmates.

But she stuck with it, and on Friday experts from Carson-Tahoe Hospital will bring 20 mannequins to teach the students life-saving techniques.

There have been roadblocks.

Taylor Keema, 8, called city officials three times to complain of a dilapidated abandoned building surrounded by broken glass near her day care, only to be told that the complaint had to be filed by an adult.

"I kind of felt angry a little, because they could have told me that the first time," she said.

But she is determined to remain vigilant.

"I'm going to work harder because I think some places in Carson have maybe broken windows or holes," Taylor said. "I think they should fix it. It makes the city cleaner and better-looking."

The students are also on the lookout for local businesses who have kept their grounds clean and well maintained.

They are planning a party to recognize community members whom the students have noticed observing civic duty.

By the end of the year, Bayliss anticipates each of her students will become involved in projects to take ownership of their community.

"Hopefully, every child will find a passion and be able to make a difference," she said.

And little things like picking up litter are second nature to Bayliss' students.

"That's just something we do because it's being a good citizen," Kate said.


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