DHS Students City of DeSoto Shadow Day

DeSoto ISD Partners With the City of DeSoto For Student Shadow Days
Posted on 03/25/2024
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For about a decade, the DeSoto Independent School District and the City of DeSoto have partnered to provide an inside perspective to DeSoto ISD high school students during the annual City Shadow Day Program. In 2024, four DeSoto High School (DHS) students received a firsthand opportunity to learn about local public service career paths by working alongside the City of DeSoto officials in their capacities of a judge, police chief, fire chief, and even mayor for a day. 

See Shadow Day Recap Video Here

In each role, students participated in the day-to-day operational tasks, supported decision-making, and attended informational sessions with leaders as they learned about city and county government operations and intergovernmental affairs.

At the close of the city shadow day series, DeSoto Mayor Rachel L. Proctor invited all participants to the City of DeSoto Council Meeting for a public celebration. Each official spoke highly of the student participants and the city staff awarded the students a personalized proclamation and tokens of their appreciation in the presence of their community members, parents, and friends.

See Shadow Day Photo Album Here

“A lot of students come and learn things that they did not know and, sometimes it even sparks them to desire to pursue a career in government,” explained Mayor Proctor. “So having this opportunity for our DeSoto ISD students is so important.”

DHS senior William Carden III was selected as the “judge for the day” and eagerly worked with City of DeSoto Municipal Judge Scott E. Kurth. A space was created for Carden on the judicial bench next to the judge as he opened the court proceedings, selected juries through the voir dire process, participated in charge hearings, and conducted jury trials. Carden III was so engrossed in the real-time actions of the trial lawyers and the flow of the cases and watching the judge navigate through the details that he was not ready to end his “work” day.

“I really like it. I loved everything about it, even watching and hearing the people argue their case,”  he said with a huge smile as he planned his next visit to the court. 

This experience proved to be a very relevant opportunity for Carden III who will complete his career and technical education pathway in public service in a few months. He has also shared that this experience made him more confident in his career focus and desire to become a judge after college.


Carden’s III engagement, enthusiasm, and professional demeanor were observed by Judge Kurth and the court staff. “Mr. Carden is an impressive young man,” said Judge Kurth as he expressed the value of participating in this program. “I have had a lot of people come through the court as judges for the day, but he wins the trophy. He is one of those young people who is being formed for an important role in our community,” he said.

DHS sophomore McKenzie Fernandes landed the opportunity to be the DeSoto Police chief for a day and shadowed City of DeSoto Assistant Chief of Police Ryan Jesionek, received a tour of the police station, met officers, and learned about the different divisions of officers and their roles, and the daily work that occurs in the department.

“I’m glad the ISD still allows students to peek inside a space and career that they may otherwise never know about. It can ultimately create an opportunity for us to obtain more officers in the future,” said Asst. Chief Jessionek presented Fernandes with a special challenge coin along with other gifts and her official work badge showing her as the Police Chief of the Day!

At the onset just taking it all in, Fernandes’ interest soon peaked as she described her favorite area of interest - police investigations.

“I am most interested in learning about how the police get together to solve a case. To me, it is like one big puzzle and everyone put their part in, and then around the table, each person has a piece that comes together to solve it,” explained Fernandez who appreciated the time spent with the police officers.

The Fire Chief of the Day was Dylan Sutter, a DHS senior who holds a deep interest in the field of emergency management services and plans to attend college next fall and major in emergency management. With notebook and pen in hand, joined the crew for the day. Amid time spent with the DeSoto Fire team, he shared that his interest developed initially after a chance meeting with a member of the local response team.

“He is an outstanding young man who knows what he wants to do and has set his goals. I enjoyed the day and had a phenomenal time,”  said DeSoto Fire Chief Bryan Southard.

The mayor for the day was DHS junior Skyla Jones, who was excited to see the world through the eyes of the mayor as they traveled to various meetings throughout DeSoto and in Dallas County, including the Commissioner’s Court. Jones even experienced leading the DeSoto City Council meeting as ‘mayor for the day.” 

For DeSoto ISD, this annual spring experiential learning opportunity personifies the district’s vision to inspire curiosity and consciousness, develop character, build courage, and nurture compassion right in their community.