Twenty-three more Hesperians are now experts on the inner workings of the city.


They're the first class of graduates from Hesperia's Citizens Academy, a seven-week series of classes given by city officials to interested residents.


"Curiosity and more education about city government" were what led graduate Sophie Steeno to sign up with the program, she said, "so I'd be more equipped to address (the city council), which I regularly do."


During the first day of the program, City Manager Mike led the group on a six-hour tour of the city, taking in City Hall, the California Aqueduct, unpaved roads, a water treatment facility and more.


"They were really interested in how local government works," said Rachel Molina, a senior office assistant in the city manager's office and the coordinator of the Citizens Academy. "It wasn't like other (community) outreaches, where they were so focused."


Other senior city officials taught residents about city finances, bringing new businesses to the city and urban planning.


"I did learn more about the processes," Steeno said. "It gave me a better understanding of who the players are, so to speak."


The program's goal is to both create residents who can help disseminate information about how the city operates and also help create a new corps of residents who might go on to serve on city committees or run for office.


"There was a small group who were critical," Molina said, "but for the most part they were curious."


The city will hold a second Citizens Academy late in summer 2012.


"I've promoted it to as many people as I can," Steeno said. "We need to get more involved with our government."


For more information, call (760) 947-1018.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.