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WHS sent student Youth Legislation Delegation to Olympia

OLYMPIA - In early May, Waitsburg Youth and Government sent a Youth Legislature Delegation to Olympia for the first time since 2019. Advisors Matt Elder and Heather Baker spent four exciting days with students Will Ahler, Mylie Jones, Chasity Paddock, Grayson Teal, and Lucas VanHoose at the state capital.

Before traveling to Olympia, the students met weekly during their lunch break, preparing to debate issues that affect citizens in their state, propose legislation, and learn procedures they would encounter through the YMCA Youth and Government program.

From May 8-11, the students joined students from the other state delegations to form a mock legislature of the Washington State Legislature. In this immersive learning environment, participants learn how laws are made, the role of citizens, and how to speak for themselves. Through the program, they fill leadership roles, including those of senators, house representatives, lobbyists, and journalists.

On the first day of the youth legislature, students sit on specific committees to argue in favor of their chosen bills.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Laurie Jinkins told students, "You do not become successful in the state legislature by writing and passing a lot of bills. You become successful by helping lots of other people write and pass bills." 

The following three days, they kept up a steady pace learning procedure, debating, listening, and voting on bills submitted by fellow students. Paddock's bill proposing term limits for the state governor passed the Senate, but time ran out before the House voted. VanHoose, Ahler, and Paddock were senators, Teal was a journalist, and Jones was a lobbyist.

Advisor Heather Baker was a driving force in helping to reestablish the project. As a veteran of several youth legislatures, she was an important resource for the group.

"It was amazing to see the kids come out of their shells and take ownership of the project," said Advisor Matt Elder. "The program didn't let advisors onto the House or Senate floor, so the kids had to figure it out for themselves," he added.

The Y's program offers students a unique opportunity to participate in state governance, empowering the future voters on how the state legislature works. This year, the Waitsburg students were able to take advantage of the program and their advisors said they were proud of how the students conducted themselves in Olympia.


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