PA students participate in enriching Official For a Day event


Photo courtesy of senior Daniel Bojo.

Bella Coulter , Staff Writer

By Bella Coulter

Sophomore Tori Loehn stood looking over the shoulder of a city official, listening as the she described her normal work day. She listed off various problems that may come up in a school that she has to solve, and cited the security cameras as a dependable source to help solve these problems. She said that she had access to all the security cameras in all the schools. 

Loehn was suddenly struck with an idea.

“Can you actually see what’s going on live?” she remembers asking. The woman answered that yes, she can, and Loehn immediately made a request.

The official then pulled up the security cameras at PA, and Loehn laughed as she watched her classmates goof around during One Lunch from miles away.

Loehn was one of 13 PA students who recently participated in the city’s annual Official For a Day, where they were given the opportunity to shadow a city official during a school day. 

The day began with breakfast at the Convention Center, where students met their respective officials and talked with them about their future.

Photo courtesy of senior Daniel Bojo.

“We mainly just talked about what I want to do in college, what he does, our backgrounds,” said senior Daniel Bojo. The breakfast included speeches by the superintendent, the mayor, and a few of the SCA presidents from around the city. Then it was time for the students and their officials to travel to their respective offices to continue the event.

Loehn was paired with an official from the Office of Maintenance who worked with all sorts of maintenance issues around schools, such as plumbing, security, and health and safety standards.

Meanwhile, Bojo was paired with Scott Kalis, the occupational health and safety manager for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. His job is to make sure city employees are getting sufficient time off to recover from illnesses or other health-related issues, and to keep city-sponsored events safe.

“He has a staff full of doctors and nurses, and then like safety engineers to make sure that public city events are safe for people to go to,” explained Bojo.

Kalis also had access to some of the city’s more technological features, including drones and helicopters. Kalis said that they have radars in the helicopters, so when it’s about 400 feet in the air the temperature of people can be seen. This can be used in multiple ways such as contacting police on the ground during a chase.

The city also owns drones, with cameras so advanced they cost around $30,000-40,000. Bojo was actually able to see the drones, and watched how advanced our city’s technology has become.

Bojo said, “We were near Princess Anne Middle School. Like that’s where the garage is for the city, and so he lifted the drone into the air, and the cameras are so good that it can see someone in a balcony at the oceanfront,” Bojo recounted. “It could literally see their face and read their name tag, which is really scary.”

Having this experience gave both Loehn and Bojo new perspectives on the daily life of a city official.

“It’s kind of crazy because you think that the city is just people in pantsuits,” said Bojo with a laugh. “They have like seriously really cool things and technology.”

In addition to the technology parts of the day, Bojo also learned a lot about what having a career means.

“It was really just seeing [Kalis’s] interactions throughout the day. He would always be striving to serve other people,” he said. “Even though there were people who he didn’t work with, he always knew their name and he was always kind to them, which was really inspiring to me.”

It also gave them a newfound respect for what people have to do to keep our city running smoothly.

Loehn remembers her official saying, “We work so that all you think about is getting on the bus, going to school, learning, and then coming home, rather than like who’s going to be fixing the lights in the auditorium,” she said. “We’re not concerned about that because they’re doing all that work behind the scenes.”

Bojo reiterated that idea, saying, “You don’t realize how much they do and once you finally get into it, you see all the things that go on.”

All in all, the day the students thought the day was a success, as they got to try a new experience and gain valuable life lessons along the way.

“It was actually really cool because these are people who are really passionate about what they do and you can really see that in just the interactions that they have throughout the day and the sincerity they put to their work,” said Bojo. “It’s just cool to see people doing adult things.”