"How many of you have ever used a city service?" City Manager Ken Filipiak asked a gym filled with third graders Friday morning.
He and Councilman Ray Kirchner had volunteered to talk to Garfield Elementary students about local government.
Only a smattering of kids raised their hands.
"More than that, I think," Filipiak replied. "How many of you have skated in the city's ice rink?"
More hands rose.
"Swam in one of the pools?"
Almost every hand raised.
Filipiak and Kirchner also reminded the students of several other ways they were connected to the city. If they had ever called a police officer or firefighter, went to the city's parks or used its bike paths, they were part of Mentor.
"Believe it or not," Filipiak said, "the issues we deal with impact you directly, so we want to hear from you about it."
Kirchner told the students that, in some ways, the kids were their bosses or, at least, they would be.
"Both of our bosses are the residents of Mentor," Kirchner said. "The residents pick who's on City Council and then Council picks they city manager."
"One day, you'll be able to vote about what's going on in the city," Kirchner added.
The school invited Kirchner and Filipiak to speak with the students because it coincided with what they teach in social studies class, teacher Kristen Godec said.
"This is a great opportunity for the students," she said. "Our social studies class has focused on the local – local government, local economy, local history."