Civics lesson

Many -- probably too many -- Americans take their local, state and federal governments for granted. Yes, they complain when they feel government's pinch, but they often fail to get involved in ways that can influence change. Voting, one of the most basic rights, isn't a priority for too many of us.

Students at six area high schools recently got an opportunity to learn how city and county governments work. They participated in the 26th annual Youth in Government Day sponsored by Optimist clubs in Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

Eighty students from Central High School, Notre Dame Regional High School, Oak Ridge High School, Delta High School, Saxony Lutheran High School and Jackson High School shadowed Cape Girardeau County, Jackson and Cape Girardeau officials and participated in discussions and mock meetings to consider some of the current issues facing their real-life counterparts.

"It gives our high school students an opportunity to learn about our local government system, and it gives our aldermen and staff an opportunity to get valuable input from the students," said Jackson Mayor Barbara Lohr.

Hats off to the Optimist clubs for organizing these activities. And we hope the students better understand the importance of government participation.