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Big Picture Welcomes Erie Co. Executive Mark Poloncarz

students smile and pose

On February 7th, the Ken-Ton School District was proud to host a very special guest visitor to the Big Picture Program at Kenmore Junior/Senior High School. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz took the time to visit Big Picture social studies teacher Matt LaVigne's Government class during the day to educate students about county government.

During his visit, Mr. Poloncarz explained the differences between federal, state, and local government and how it impacts people’s lives.

“Government at the local level is the most important level of government you will deal with,” Mr. Poloncarz said. “Local government is everything. It is government on the local level that has the greatest impact on our lives on a daily basis.”

Mr. Poloncarz discussed the important role the county government plays, covering an area larger than the size of Rhode Island with urban, suburban, and rural areas and a total population larger than five different states. He described the many different roles and responsibilities carried out by Erie County including drinking water, wastewater treatment, roads/snow plowing, policing, crime scene investigations, public health, 911 dispatch, ambulance coverage, the Department of Motor Vehicles, services for the elderly, supporting organizations like libraries and historical societies, and as owner of Highmark Stadium and the KeyBank Center where the Bills and Sabres play.

He also discussed how important it is for students to get involved in local government and make their voices heard.

“Government is the embodiment of the people. Each and every one of you are my boss. You may not be old enough to vote yet, but I work for the people of Erie County,” Mr. Poloncarz said. “Each and every one of you has a voice as a member of the community, so it’s important you voice your opinions.”

In addition to learning about county government, students also had the opportunity to educate Mr. Poloncarz about the Big Picture Program and what makes it unique. This includes its small class sizes, class-level advisories which remain consistent each year students are enrolled, and its non-traditional classroom environment which emphasizes internships and project-based learning.

Special thanks go out to Jonathan for his initiative as well as Mr. Poloncarz for taking time out of his busy schedule to facilitate this opportunity for our students.