After an application process, I am excited to announce that was accepted into the inaugural Citizens' Academy with our local government.

It was a 7 week educational and interactive course on the workings of Town governance, and how to get involved. I learned so much that I previously didn't know about not only my own town, but about the governance aspect of any town.

Per the Academy's description, "The curriculum will cover current Town programs, services, and procedures, and offer an inside looks at several departments, including Public Works, Police, Fire, Communications, Finance, Planning, Engineering, Wake Forest Power, IT, Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources, the Renaissance Centre, and Downtown Development. Led by Town staff, each weekly session will take place at a different Town facility. The final session will include a graduation ceremony and reception."

I've grown to have a gratitude and deep interest in our country's history, mechanics, and founding principles, and this opportunity to grow in those areas was very exciting to me.

We toured Public Works, which manages garbage pickup, the town electricity, road maintenance/signs, yard waste, water waste, and the garage that maintains town-owned vehicles from an emergency boat to massive dump trucks.

We met with our mayor and got to ask questions from members of advisory boards, including Urban Forestry, Planning, Downtown, and Technology, among others.

We went to one of the town's fire departments and met with the fire chief, several firemen, the fire dog (He was adorable,) and we even had an opportunity to run an abbreviated fireman qualifying course. It included crawling through a blacked-out culvert pipe (to simulate a smoke-darkened room), bang a sledge against a weight on a skid track (to simulate chopping a hole in a roof), to doing 50 step-ups (to simulate flights of stairs), and run around cones. It was great fun. I got to wear a 25-pound weighted vest and turn out gear. The vest really threw off my balance in the pipe.

We got to meet members of our police force, I got taser training (SO MUCH FUN), a lesson on police conduct in pull-overs and how they determine how drunk you are, got to meet our police dogs, and run a non-abbreviated police qualifying course. I skipped the 50 push ups, but I ran around the cones, jumped a 5-foot fence, dived under a hurtle, and wrestled a 100-pound bag, which simulated subduing a perpetrator. I accidentally lost a shoe and it hit the policeman monitoring the course. Oops.

At the end of it, we had our graduation and I received a certificate of completion. I'm incredibly honored to have been selected for this academy, and I highly reccommend everyone to get involved in their town - at the very least, gain the knowledge of how your town operates.