Students participate in YMCA Youth and Government

Connor Heffernan, Online Editor

Three thousand students pack into a single conference room, screaming chants at one another. All from California, every delegation of students carries its own identity. One delegation erupts in a chant.

“We’ve got spirit, yes we do. We’ve got spirit how ‘bout you?”

They direct it at another delegation, who responds with the same chant. The cycle continues until one side decides they’ve won, leaving the other delegation furious from their apparent loss.

For one delegation, a massive Pirate flag waves in the air. The San Francisco group waves the city, gay pride, and Giants flags. The room exudes built up energy and excitement like in a sports stadium.

This scene describes a YMCA Youth and Government Conference (Y&G). The highlight of the year is in Sacramento, where students from across the state, including here, will model the government, in both the state legislature and assembly.

“It’s the place where youth can cultivate their minds in a safe environment.” freshman Noah Jung said.

Not everything about Y&G is just practice. Y&G bills such as requiring firehouses to include school blueprints at firehouses in case of an emergency, as well as fining drivers for not wearing their seat belts, began in Y&G and subsequently by state legislators incorporated the ideas into real laws.

“There are no other programs where you can take an issue you care about, write a bill, and have a chance to get that bill through the real legislature to enact tangible change in California.” senior Oliver Snow said

Students in Y&G start in August with weekly meetings, developing their public speaking skills and a bill for the delegation to bring to the conference. Two training and elections conferences took place in Fresno in December and January.

“You improve your speaking and leadership skills, as well as gain practical experience with writing and developing legislation,” Snow said.

Eleven students from the school participate in Y&G, making up much of the Marin delegation. The delegation President is Yasmine Lunar and includes seniors Miles Krick, Connor Heffernan, Snow, Ethan Singleton and Cleve Schneider.

Sophomores in Y&G include Caleb Krick, Thomas Skyvarra, Erin Armstrong, and Stefanie Iojica. Freshmen Paul Nave and Jung also participate.

From Feb. 15 to 19, the students leave for Sacramento, where they will model the government in various program areas, including assembly and senate, constitutional convention, national issues commision, multiple court programs, department of finance, and more.

“Y&G is the most hands-on and interactive introduction to politics and government available to high school kids in California. It’s an amazing experience.” Iojica said.