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Youth and Government teaches politics, citizenship

Students practice debate, networking in anticipation for Olympia event

By Davin Sones

At NSCC, Senior Youth and Government member, Teo Bagnolli, annotates and prepares his bill.
Photo Courtesy of: Mauricio Ayon

RAHS’ very own Youth and Government is busy at work with their bills and debating in preparation for a North Seattle College event.

Senior Henry Crockett is a veteran member of Youth and Government (Y&G). He is also currently on the leadership committee of the club.

“Our mission is to get young students more involved into politics,” said Crockett. “If you see politicians today, most of them are fairly old, and so we want to get more of an understanding of how the actual process works of getting bills passed.”

In tandem with getting students involved into politics, Y&G has another goal of fostering citizenship. RAHS alumni Rachel Demaree is a former member and the founder of the RAHS branch (or delegation as they are called) of Washington State Y&G.

“Y&G is where students learn to write and debate a bill,” said Demaree. “The goal is essentially to become better, informed citizens.”

These bills could be in relation to any number of issues that students deem necessary to fix or change. Y&G students are always working to hone and refine their bills.

“We practice debating bills in our clubs and our meetings every Wednesday, and it leads us to an event in Olympia in May in which we go to the State Capitol and debate in the House and Senate Chambers to try and get a bill that we created passed,” said Crockett.

The club’s current goal is to not only refine their bills, but to gain valuable feedback on them. RAHS sophomore Mackenzie Firestone is also a Youth and Government team member. She agrees that the repeated practice is vital.

“The goal is to practice for Olympia, to get more experience with parliament, to get a feel of some of the other delegates, and to get more practice on your bill and to get more constructive feedback to get your bill more solid,” said Firestone.

Y&G is always at work practicing for their big day at Olympia.

“We do a ton of debate,” said Demaree. “We play different debate games. My favorite activity is called Trash Night, where everyone proposes their bill and everyone else tries to tear it apart. It can be kind of intimidating at first, but it’s really useful and makes everyone’s bill stronger.”

The event at North Seattle Community College is a large stepping stone to readiness for the Olympia event.

“At the meeting, our main goal is to get people actually enthusiastic and involved in politics at a young age,” said Crockett. “I mean our goal of course is to get our bill passed, but more importantly than that is to have some good debate and understand what things worked for our argument and what things did not so we can compete for next year.”

Getting a bill passed is much more than simple debating in Youth in Government.

“In mock legislature, we split up into groups and we debate based on what our bill is about,” said Crockett. Mock lege [legislature] is different than Olympia because you are in small groups and you don’t actually do whole debates with the entire chamber. In Olympia you may have 50 to 100 people in one room, at mock lege you may have only between 10 and 20.”

As far as the Olympia legislatures go, they are important in connecting people all across the state. There is an array of various topics that are debated, as students can develop a bill for whatever they are interested in changing.

“It’s awesome because you see what everyone’s passionate about and you learn to research quickly on the fly to support your arguments,” said Demaree.

Students of Y&G agree that the networking that you can experience at Olympia is diverse.

“You really get connected with your peers,” said Firestone. “Last year at Olympia I made a lot of friends that I didn’t know before.There are many people from different places. You get a lot of good perspective.”

As far as good perspective, that diversity is a key factor.

“It’s really nice having different political opinions from outside our centralized area is really interesting to hear because it allows us to see flaws in our own argument,” said Crockett. “If we’re all in the same room and we’re all like ‘yeah this is really solid, let’s all go for this’, you don’t really see the opposite view that could be debated. It’s nice to have that contrast.”

The club has been both instructional and inspirational.

“Y&G inspired me to pursue a career in policy,” said Demaree. “I’m specifically interested in foreign policy, which is a little different from what we do in Y&G. But Y&G taught me that I have a voice and that I should use it.”

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