Over Valentine’s Day weekend, Leesville was successful in the school’s very first Youth and Government (YAG) Conference.
Every year, YMCA delegations and schools from Asheville to Winston Salem congregate at downtown Raleigh to hold a conference for students who have a passion for politics, government and the law. Over the conference weekend, many events and competitions are held for students with bills to be passed into “YAG Law”, Mock Trials, Appellants in the Court of Appeals, Freshmen in the Freshman forum (a freshman-only legislature), and many other categories. Below is a breakdown of each category:
Students from across the state present mock bills to a Senate and House of Representatives, also made up of students. Once the bills are passed in the houses, they go to the governors cabinet. There, the bills are debated. The ones that the governor likes are passed into “YAG Law.” “YAG Law” bills pass through every house and the governor’s cabinet and are treated as if they are being passed into a mock form of law.
Court of Appeals
Students develop briefs (legal arguments or summaries of longer documents) and oral arguments as attorneys for mock cases in a Court of Appeals. Students would have to be able to argue both sides of a case against other participants.
Students must argue as the Plaintiff and Defense for criminal cases ranging from murder to shoplifting. Unlike Court of Appeals, there are witnesses as well as a jury.
Freshman Forum is legislature only for ninth graders (minus the governor’s cabinet). This is a great way for new students to be accustomed to how YAG Legislature works because they only have to argue their bill against other people who are attending the conference for the first time, not people who are experienced in the Legislative part of YAG.
Participants who are interested in journalism and media spend the weekend interviewing other participants, writing articles for the daily YAG paper, creating a newscast and taking photos for slideshows and social media.
Lobbyists argue for and against bills that are trying to be passed in legislature.
Budget Analysts must argue how and why the bill they’re arguing for is “financially responsible” or not.
Out of the four Leesville students who participated in the conference, all earned some form of an award.
Michael Beauregard, freshman, won best debater in Freshman Forum; Allison Fisher, junior, had her bill on private nurse practitioners passed into YAG Law; Rebecca Dupree and her partner Troy Sturdivant, both juniors (Sturdivant not being a Leesville student), had their bill on gambling in NC passed into YAG Law, and Will Hollerung, sophomore, won Model Attorney in the Court of Appeals.
“I loved being able to see how the government worked and debating my bill,” said Fisher when asked what she enjoyed most from her first YAG experience. She is looking forward to next year’s conference and hopes to be more involved with the bill passing process.
Rebecca Dupree, junior, said that she “didn’t expect much this year because it was Leesville’s first time attending,” but was proud of how well everyone did.
Michael Beauregard enjoyed his YAG experience because it taught him “parliamentary procedure, and how law making works.” In the future, he hopes to be a part of the House and have his bills passed into law.
All students who attended the conference this year seem determined to do well, so the students who participate in next year’s Youth and Government Conference should be just as successful.