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By Nicole Miller

High expectations are held for Youth and Government delegates travelling to Springfield on March 20-22, and because of the level of maturity and formality of the event, there are strict rules for everything from the dress code to when someone is allowed to speak. Mr. Kettering, the club’s advisor, said that it is important that the students involved need to know “what to do and what not to do” while at the capitol. That’s where PreLedge comes in.

“‘I call for the previous question…’

“‘I object, your Honor…’

“Each year these calls ring out in the legislative and judicial chambers of most state capitols in the United States. It is the voice of teenage America demanding that the bill under debate be voted upon or that some point of law in the courtroom be clarified. It comes from the nation’s finest seedbed for leadership – the YMCA Youth and Government Program.”  The Illinois YMCA Youth and Government website goes on to explain this club as “a mock government program for high school students in the State of Illinois.”

Mr. Kettering explained to the group of ten Batavia delegates that there are rules that need to be followed.  PreLedge one and two will allow the students mock trials of Springfield.  On Friday, November 7 at Neuqua Valley High School, students will go through different legislative classes to learn the basics.  From there they will go on to a classroom to briefly debate their and other students’ bills.  The environment gives the students a more lenient chance to practice for Springfield.  Then everyone will gather in the school’s auditorium to hear speeches from students running for office.  Voting will take place, though it won’t count for the real election, and will allow the students to see what the voters think so far.  PreLedge two falls on December 5 and will have almost the same itinerary as PreLedge one, but will be more serious than its predecessor to help the students prepare even further.

Youth and Gov. “is the best hands on laboratory for learning…how our Democracy works,” said Mr. Kettering.

Statistics show that 88 percent of Youth and Gov. alumni go on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher, while 25 percent of the general population do the same.  96 percent of Y & G alumni registered to vote, while 66 percent of the general population registered, and 87 percent of Y & G alumni voted in the last election, while 54 percent of the general public voted.  Another striking statistic is that 17 percent of the general population works on community issues, but 43 percent of Y and G alumni does the same.

Senior Megan Pfister explained that one of the main reasons she signed up for Youth and Government is because she “like[s] to debate…about topic[s] [she is] passionate about.”

The current delegates are hopeful that their bill will pass in Springfield and excited for the experience in general.  Not only will the mock debates help to prepare for Springfield, but also will help them in their future careers.

Daniel Pieczynski, a current Youth and Gov club member now in his Senior year at Batavia High School, believes that “everyone should know…what an actual Democratic Society is” and hopes to use his experience during these few months in his future career as a high school history teacher.

Senior Emma Jordan “would like to work as an ambassador, a UN representative, or…a similar position,” so Youth and Government is an experience preparing her for possible future careers.

Hopefully the Batavia delegation for Youth and Government will have successful experiences at PreLedge one and two in preparation for the weekend at the capitol.

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