ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Danielle Coughlin and Devin Lofton register to vote.
By ADAM SWIFT
PEABODY — Students from the Peabody Community High School are getting a taste of the real world this week.
Nearly two dozen students from the school met with Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. in his corner officer at City Hall Thursday morning to hear about the challenges and successes of running the city.
“I’ve been mayor now for about five years; it’s a wonderful job but it can be very difficult,” said Bettencourt. “I know things haven’t always been easy for you, you’ve had some challenges. I’m very happy to talk to you about what we do in the city and my responsibilities and what I do on a daily basis.”
The Peabody Community High School educates students with social emotional disabilities in a public day school, and each year, the school holds a Real World Week, according to Craig Macarelli, the program administrator. There are currently 27 students in grades 9 through 12 in the program.
“We set up a week where we talk about life transitions into adulthood, from financial literacy to even car maintenance,” said Macarelli. This week, the students even went into Boston to learn about local history.
At City Hall, the focus was on civic responsibility and what it takes to effectively run a municipality with a $170 million budget and 1,400 employees.
“My job as the mayor is to try to move the city forward to make it a better place for everyone, and there are a lot of different parts to that,” said Bettencourt. “My job as the mayor is to be the CEO. I oversee all the different departments, and of course, the biggest one is the schools.”
Bettencourt talked about several current projects in the city, including the revitalization of the downtown and the dredging of Crystal Lake. He also answered several questions from students and teachers about those projects, as well as why he wanted to run for mayor.
“With this job, you can really make things happen, and not all jobs can give you that good feeling that you are contributing,” Bettencourt said.
Community high school student Bryanna Burgess said she looks forward to the Real World Week every year, adding that this year was the first time they have visited the mayor. She said she especially appreciates the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into the community.