Youth Assembly is an annual conference sponsored by the Georgia YMCA that allows students to take an active role in the creation, debate, and voting of legislation. Guided by YMCA staff members, delegates are able to fully immerse themselves in mock debate, modeled after the procedure of actual Georgia Congressional debate.
Scholars Academy had two students serve in leadership roles: LaTatyana Hadley as President Tempore of the Senate and Maura Shiner as Assistant Clerk of the House. Both students, in preparation for the conference, attended IMPACT, a retreat focused on developing leadership skills, during the summer.
“During IMPACT I learned a lot about working with people that differ from me. We were presented with lots of challenges and learned how to overcome them as a team, which made the actual conference run very smoothly,” said Shiner.
At the beginning of the school year, students submit bills to be considered for their respective conference.
“I wanted to write a bill that I was passionate about to be able to better educate people on the issue of coal energy usage,” said Ben Dozier.
“I helped new bill authors edit their bills in committee to make them the best they could be on the Senate floor,” said Claudia White.
After the creation of the bill book, delegates are separated into different committees to hear bills for the first time and to decide which bills will make it onto the House or Senate floors. This allows bill authors to fully explain the purpose of their legislation and make amendments to better their bill for joint debate. Joint debate is lead by student elected officials chosen from the previous year’s conference.
“I have always had an interest in government and politics, so I wanted to learn more about how our government works. I was interested in participating in the mock legislative process to see if I wanted to pursue government as a career,” said Shiner.
Hadley and White were awarded ribbons and named “Senior Statesmen” for attending Youth Assembly all four years of high school. These individuals are recognized the first night of the conference and serve as mentors to guide younger delegates.
“I also gave tips to new senators on how to debate and present their bills so that they may pass through Congress easier,” said White.
During the second day of the conference, delegates participated in a Youth Governor’s Luncheon sponsored by the YMCA. Later that night, delegates participate in “Mandafun,” where having fun is mandatory. There is a dance, game room, and movie offered to students to have a night of fun while at the conference. On the final day of the conference delegates wrap up debate and prep for joint session to hear awards and final conclusions for the conference.
Along with Youth Assembly the YMCA also sponsors Georgia United Nations Assembly (GUNA) in the spring and IMPACT Leadership Retreat in the summer.