Hesperia officials are only a few weeks away from offering their second-ever master class on the inner workings of the city.


The city's Citizens Academy is an eight-session series of classes on all aspects of what makes the city tick, from a grand tour of city facilities offered by City Manager Mike Podegracz to discussions of public works, finance, public safety and attracting new businesses to the city.


"We try to cover all the areas that we know our residents care about and have questions about," said program coordinator Rachel Molina.


Residents signed up last year, and are signing up this year, out of a desire to understand how their hometown works a bit better, she said.


"It's a very strong course in terms of getting you a lot of information. It's a lot of information thrown at you at once," said resident Sophie Steeno, who participated in the program last year. "I wanted to know more about government functions and how their finance works and their funding."


Resident Craig Sundgren signed up for the 2011 program out of "curiosity, as much as anything else. 'How does that work? How does that work?'"


The 23 graduates of the first year's academy are more involved in the city as a result, according to Molina.


"We see our participants attending council meetings. They've contacted us about being active in other committees and ways," she said. "It's really helping to enhance the community and reinforcing that small town feeling that Hesperia does have."


"I would encourage everyone to do it if only because there's such low turnout to watch how the government does its business," Steeno said. Her husband has already signed up for this year's classes.


"If you've got any curiosity in how the city works, it's well worth it," Sundgren said.


Hesperia's Citizens Academy kicks off on Aug. 4. As of July 6, there were still 10 openings in the 25-person class, and applications will be accepted through July 19. The academy is free and is open to Hesperia residents 18 years and older. For more information, visit the Community Relations page (found under the City Departments menu) at CityofHesperia.us.


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