As the 63rd YMCA Youth in Government State Conference gets under way Feb. 6-8 at the Oklahoma State Capitol, nearly 250 high school students from across Oklahoma will take their place in state government and meet elected officials.
Of those students, 70 will be participating from Edmond area high schools including students from Edmond Memorial, Edmond North, Edmond Santa Fe and Deer Creek-Edmond.
The Y’s Youth in Government program is a national program that involves thousands of teens nationwide in state-organized, model-government programs.
“Prior to the Youth in Government state conference, students have trained and learned how to, among other things, research public policy issues, write real legislation and polish their public speaking and debating skills,” said Cree Gathright, YMCA Youth in Government state director.
Throughout the year students have met in their local Youth In Government groups and have debated real issues affecting Oklahomans and proposed legislation to alleviate those problems.
Edmond Memorial High School students participating in Youth in Government include: Mohammad Alkalani, Bradley Chew, Michael Goldbeck, Kristine Johnson, Braden Keefer, Jean Ann Meier, Malik Miller, Mitch Pace, Raghavendra Pai, Joseph Pendergraft, Carson Schlittler, Aadithya Shenoy, Christian Sparger, Brock Trotter, Andrew Valdez, Kayleigh Vaughan, Jonathan Ye, Jordan Hunt and Karena Zhao,
Edmond North High School will be sending the following students to attend the conference: Alek Rushing, Alex Hallenbeck, Allison Vierps, Ana Seal, Andrew Squires, Anna Mayer, Asim Ali, Brianna Dowers, Claire Olson, Ethan Packer, Grant Evans, James Bruce, Emily Weiher, James Hood, Jacob Troupe, Matthew Adkins, Maxwell Walker, Pablo Rasmussen, Parker Beaver, Phillip Douglas, Shelby Mann and Spencer Jones.
Santa Fe High School students attending are: J.D. Baker, Ashley Griffith, LouLoua Hasan, Tara Lyons, Cecilia Mandewo, Corin Merlin, Austin Henson, Ethan Pryor, Kaylee Reese and Sidney Williams.
Students attending from Deer Creek High School include: J.D. Barnes, Michael Bernard, Sierra Brown, Mariah Carter, Santina Cherian, Harisha Chintnalapally, Destinee Dickson, Brenton Kidd, Erin Merry, Nathan Miller, Allison Muchiri, Nasser Odetallah, Cindy Pan, Kyle Philpott, Charlie Robinson, Adam Rubin, Akshaya Santhanaraj, Ritu Shah, Farren Springer and Elizabeth Wroten.
“The Youth In Government program culminates at a state conference. Here, students get to put all their hard work and dedication in action as they play the role of a critical civic leader, debating bills on the floor of the legislature,” Gathright said.
“The YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City has given our young people a fantastic opportunity to have a voice,” Gathright said. “From here on, no matter what career choice these students make, they will have sound knowledge and experience in knowing how to stand up for what is right and contribute to their community.”
The model youth legislature meets in a two-day legislative session presided over by student-elected state officials. Student delegates will assume the roles of state senator, state representative, lobbyist or press during the conference.
Students serving as elected officials will meet their real state of Oklahoma counterparts during the Governor’s luncheon at noon on Feb. 6. Participants and officials invited to attend include the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House, Senate president pro tempore, secretary of state, attorney general, chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and presiding judge for the Court of Criminal Appeals. School superintendents, principals and teachers throughout the state of Oklahoma are invited to the conference as well.
FOR MORE information on the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City’s Youth in Government program, call Cree Gathright at 297-7778 or firstname.lastname@example.org.