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McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko welcomed a select group of Founders Hall Middle School students to gain firsthand experience in how city police officers, firefighters, and other staff interact with the community on a daily basis.
Cherepko, who was a McKeesport Area teacher for 12 years prior to serving as mayor, is committed to the youth of the McKeesport community. His administration is focused on youth programming in terms of both recreation and outreach.
“I always talk about how I want to provide McKeesport’s children and teens with as many positive life-learning experiences as possible, and this is a day these young men and women will remember for the rest of their lives,” Cherepko said. “In meeting our city employees and local business owners, they get information about career opportunities. There’s also a flipside to that, because seeing the types of cases our police officers handle, they know where the wrong choices in life could place them. We want kids to understand that the right choice is not always the popular choice, but it’s what leadership and being a good citizen is all about.”
On May 31, eighth-graders Paul Francis, Natasha Cooke, and Aniyah Allen, and seventh-grader James Filmore, toured the McKeesport Police Department, McKeesport Fire Department, City Hall and the downtown business district before being treated to lunch at the local Eat’n Park along Lysle Boulevard as a pilot “Walk the Beat” program through the McKeesport Healthier Communities PartnerSHIP’s Crime and Safety Logic Model.
“It was an absolute pleasure to spend a few hours with these incredible young men and women,” Police Chief Bryan J. Washowich said. “Building relationships with the youth of our community is a springboard to our city’s message – Respect, Dignity, Hope, and Love.”
Founders Hall Associate Principal Ashlee Boyle said the experience should prove to be beneficial for the entire student body as time goes on.
“Not only was today’s experience great for the students who visited downtown McKeesport, but hopefully they will bring that positivity back to the school and share it with their friends,” Boyle said. “We want our students to know what’s happening in their hometown. We want them to see a positive side of local government and law enforcement, and we want them to make informed decisions when they are out in the community.”