Vassar High School teacher Gary Lasceski had one goal: developing productive citizens who understood how their government works.
Lasceski headed the school's Youth in Government program for nearly 30 years, teaching two generations of students the values of democratic government, the constitution, the laws and rights that govern us, and our duty to uphold them. Now retired, he still participates in Youth in Government as a coach and advisor.
"Gary has given hundreds of students insights as to how the state system of government works," wrote Jim Baker, a Vassar teacher and co-advisor of the school's Youth in Government program for the last two years. "Any student who has experienced Gary's classes leaves with a thorough understanding of individual freedom and the responsibility it carries."
Lasceski also works with Vassar's Youth in Government Mock Trial Competition team, helping students with trial materials, explaining various court functions, and teaching the basics of the criminal justice system, rules of evidence, and client advocacy. He enlists the aid of the Tuscola County prosecutor's office to get his students into a courtroom for a dress rehearsal and asks gets local attorneys to watch the dry run and offer advice.
"Sometimes you take for granted the influence an individual has on others until someone points it out," wrote Vassar High School principal Paul Wojno.
Lasceski doesn't have to look far to see the impact he's had on Vassar, a city of about 2,700 residents just east of Saginaw. Three of his former students are members of the school board, two are on the city council, and one is the police chief.
Story by Mike Eidelbes