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Thomson Elementary C.I.A. students get courthouse tour

A few C.I.A. agents are only in second grade.

And they live in Thomson.

They don't work for the Central Intelligence Agency, but rather for the community -- as part of the Citizens In Action club at Thomson Elementary School.

Several of the club members attended the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners meeting in the courtroom last Wednesday. In the meeting, McDuffie Animal Shelter Manager Gail Newsome told the commissioners how the club had recently held a donation drive and brought 300 items to the shelter, including dog and cat food, litter and toys.

"Thank you for being the kind of people that put others before yourself," County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton said. "By doing so, you are seen by your peers as leaders in the community. "I think it's a great thing to take on responsibility at such a young age."

The teachers who lead the C.I.A. group are Sonya Thomas, Sally Jones and Saundra Maxwell. Mrs. Maxwell told the commissioners that the children not only help the animal shelter each year, but they also have done projects for Relay For Life, Thomson Manor nursing home, held food drives for MANNA, made posters advertising the school sock hop and feed birds around the school.

"We love doing things for our community," Mrs. Maxwell said, adding that the group is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Thomson.

After their visit to the commission meeting, the students toured the courthouse and were excited to find McDuffie County Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Swan in his office. As they surrounded the judge's desk, the young students suddenly took on the persona of C.I.A. agents, taking in all the details of their surroundings in the office and asking detailed, pointed questions "Do you bang your gavel a lot?" "Does it cost a lot of money to get the whole court in session?" "Do lawyers get frustrated and just can't take it anymore?" "What are all these books?" "Do you have to look up a lot of laws?" "Sometimes, I think some laws are crazy. Why is that?" Judge Swan answered each question and explained to his young inquisitors the differences between Magistrate Court and Superior Court.

"It's interesting to hear the different perspectives. You just never know what they're taking in and thinking," he told The McDuffie Mirror after the children moved on to the next office.

While at the courthouse, the second graders also got to meet McDuffie County Probate Judge Valerie Burley, Thomson City Councilman John Smalley, McDuffie County Commission Vice-Chairman Sammie Wilson, Sr., County Manager Don Norton, and County Clerk Annette Findley.

The full commission board, consisting of Rev. Fred Favors, Bill Jopling and Paul McCorkle also were introduced to the group.

Web posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009

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