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Youth and Government visits state capital

For the first time since 2019, 22 students attended the Youth and Government (YAG) conference in Jefferson City from Nov. 9-11.

Organized by the YMCA, YAG is driven by the motto “Democracy Must Be Learned By Each Generation” and creates a government simulation for high school students. Club sponsor and government teacher Mary Jo Bauer said that the YAG program does a good job highlighting unity through and inside of government.

“The program is fantastic. It brings together public and private schools from across the state, from all different economic backgrounds. It’s the way our government should be,” Bauer said.

Junior Asher Mitchell, who participated in the Senate, said that they were drawn into the program because of the hands-on legislative experience.

“I’ve always been interested in government, but Bauer really convinced me to do it. Being able to be a part of the lawmaking process seemed like fun. Not just as a mock thing your school does, but actually voting on and debating bills,” Mitchell said.

At the state capital, Bauer said that students can present and pass bills in the legislative branch, and argue and decide cases in the judicial branch.

“In preparation for the trip, students draft bills. Bills range from serious [topics] to bringing back dueling. Students meet in committee and present their bills. The bills are then ranked, and that evening, the rules committee makes the docket. Students spend all day Friday on the floor debating bills. In the judicial branch, they present an appellate case, so two lawyers each take a legal decision and argue before a panel of judges,” Bauer said.

Junior Nick Ruggeri, who participated in the House of Representatives and won Outstanding Representative, said that submitting his own bill was the most compelling aspect of the trip, but really enjoyed bringing those bills to the floor to debate them.

“I wanted to see how our government worked firsthand. Being able to submit your bills was the most interesting part, and the second most interesting part– or the most interesting part, depending on who you are– was being able to argue the bill in the actual Missouri legislature building,” Ruggeri said. “The arguing was my favorite part– just being able to explain your reasoning, debate, and hear other people’s perspectives.”

Bauer said that she was happy to see students taking part in the program and become more aware of the way the government works.

“The participation from all members, whether in the House, the Senate or the trials was really awesome to watch. Kids have to take a government class, but to truly engage with others and have civic minded discussions [is important]. There’s nothing better than civic minded youth,” Bauer said.

However, Mitchell said that the part they enjoyed most from the conference was meeting people who share the same passion for civics and government.

“I enjoyed just going out to lunch and getting to know other people who have this common interest,” Mitchell said.

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About the Contributor
Mary Corkery, Editor-In-Chief
Class of 2025 Time on staff: 3 years Favorite newspaper memory: My first January stay late when our editor accidently stole a pizza Favorite song: "Bottle Rocket" by Briston Maroney and Manchester Orchestra

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