MIDLOTHIAN – The city of Midlothian is accepting sign ups for its annual Citizens Academy to begin Aug. 29.

The eight-week academy is free to city and rural (extra-territorial jurisdiction) residents and offers a hands-on, interactive education of each department in the city.

“Through the citizens academy, residents can gain first-hand knowledge about the city at every level through hands-on classes,” City Secretary Tammy Varner said.

Classes will be held at 5:30 p.m. each Thursday, Aug. 29–Oct. 17 at various locations to be announced depending on the academy schedule. Each class is about two to three hours long and includes a light meal.

The academy will tour and learn about the police, fire and water treatment departments, Mid-Way Regional Airport, parks and recreation, public works, finance, engineering, planning and animal control departments.

“It’s a really unique, hands-on learning experience,” Mayor Pro Tem Joe Frizzell said. “You visit each department in the city to learn about that department and experience what they do.”

Students of this year's citizens academy can also anticipate a tour through the new Water Treatment Plant No. 2 and see it in operation, see inside the Midlothian Fire Department's three new fire trucks and all its equipment, tour the police department's dispatch center, emergency operations center and possibly the jail.

“You really gain an insight into how the city operates. Anyone who has gone through the classes is a huge supporter of it,” Midlothian Mayor Bill Houston said.

Academy students will take part in a graduation ceremony at the Midlothian City Council meeting on Oct. 22, where they will be recognized and given certificates.

The city is in need of participants to sign up for this year's academy. Residents can sign up by visiting the city's website at www.midlothian.tx.us and click on the news link “2013 Citizens Academy” to see the application link. Clicking on the link will open an electronic form that can be filled out and submitted online.

The application can also be printed off, filled out and dropped off or faxed to city hall. For more information contact Mary McDonald at 972-775-3481 or Tammy Varner at 972-775-7195.