EDUCATION Boardman pupils observe Township Day

The township's first police car wasn't a GM model.
BOARDMAN -- Dangle a few prizes in front of a room full of third- and fourth-graders, and it's amazing how much history they'll gobble up.
Tuesday was Ohio Township Day, and Boardman Township Trustee Kathy Miller visited Robinwood Lane Elementary School to play a game with pupils that gave them a glimpse into township history.
Boardman, with a population of more than 42,500, is the 10th-largest of the state's 1,308 townships. Townships, Miller explained to the pupils, are the unit of government closest to citizens.
Miller got close Tuesday morning, bringing sacks of stickers, pencils and buttons to the students in exchange for their attention to a lesson on local history. Miller, who wore a period costume she borrowed from the Arms Museum in Youngstown, led the pupils through 200 years of Boardman history on a bingo card.
Simple facts
The facts were fun and fast: Yuma, the police canine officer. The township's first firetruck. The salt dome. Kid's Town. The Boardman Schools' Spartan mascot.
The more Miller talked, the closer the pupils came to filling the squares on their cards. It certainly wasn't a traditional bingo card as every card was exactly the same. But that fact didn't keep the 8- and 9-year-olds from scanning their cards for the winning picture.
"Look for the picture with the old guys standing by the old car," Miller said. "That was our very first police car. Can you find that?"
A dozen eager voices chimed in: "Here it is!"
The photo in question was a tiny one, with eight uniformed officers flanking a vintage black vehicle with rather large headlights.
"Does anyone know what kind of car that is?" Miller asked.
"A Chevrolet!"
"A Ford!"
Then, a voice shouted, "A Cadillac!"
"Well, I don't think we've ever had a Cadillac police car," Miller said with a smile. "It's a 1958 Dodge. Take this home and show your dad. I bet he'll know what kind of car it is."
Boardman celebrates its bicentennial in 2005. As the class looked at the maroon and white bicentennial flag with 1805 and 2005 on it, Miller said, "That means Boardman is how old?"
The class thought for a few moments, and the replies were shouted out.
The right answer, of course, is 200, and Christian Miller, 8, knew it. Christian and classmates Jonathan Bialik, 9, and Branon Williams, 9, sat elbow to elbow, diligently marking their bingo cards.
The boys enjoyed the break from the books and said they learned some interesting facts about their hometown.
"We live in a good township," said classmate Bryana Flak, 9.
Of all the historical facts thrown his way Tuesday, Joey Woods picked up one that especially excited him.
During a question-and-answer session, a pupil asked Miller what happened to retired police dogs, and she said that sometimes officers are allowed to buy them for $1.
"I have $35 in my savings account," Joey said. "You know what? I could buy 35 dogs!"

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