Thomasville City Scholars Academy students learned about the workings of the Georgia state government at the Youth Assembly (YA) from November 13-15 in Atlanta with discussing current state issues with state administrators, elected officials, and students from other high schools.
Each year, YA is led by students elected the previous year to office by the delegates. Volunteers and State YMCA staff help guide the students through committee meetings and procedures. Students debate and vote on the bills that their delegates have written and presented. Bills that pass in committee are then taken to the floor of the House or Senate for full debate and vote.
Thirty-five Scholars Academy students participated with assistance of Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History, AP World History, and AP Psychology teacher Erin White. They learned more about government beyond their 9th grade American Government classes, and they met and worked together with students from across the state.
Senior Jacob Cone said, “I always learn more about the government and how awesome the people and students across the state are as they write bills.”
Scholars Academy delegates participated and competed successfully. Claudia White won an award for Best Bill, John West was elected Speaker of the House for the 2017 Youth Assembly, and Jacob Cone won Outstanding Statesman for being the best debater and for having the outstanding bill.
Cone and West want to be involved in politics when they grow up, and for them YA is a great opportunity.
Cone said, “It showed me how much I love doing YA and being able to debate and write legislation.”
Junior Alexa Hernandez also thinks that the experiences from the YA will have an impact on her future.
“It gives me a better understanding of how government works and how I can contribute to it and not just be a bystander and let things happen,” said Hernandez.
White thinks that the experiences from YA help students to focus their ideas, to do some research about a position, to list pros and cons, and to practice speaking in front of people.
“These kids are interviewing for scholarships, appointments, and jobs. At YA they have to explain what they think about something and talk about it logically in a way to get their idea across to someone else so that they can understand it,” said White.
But besides all the good memories, there are also controversial topics during the debates. Students learn to listen to the arguments of others.
West said, “A bad memory is whenever you say something that people don't agree with and they have facts to back up their opinion and they discredit you…because you are wrong.”
West is really excited about being Speaker of the House at the Youth Assembly 2017.
“Next fall is going to be my favorite year at Youth Assembly ever,” said West.
Cone said, “The Youth Assembly is a great opportunity for every high school student that wants to go, it is always a great opportunity to learn more about government and just to have a lot of fun.”