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Students take in youth assembly

Teens learn about legislature

POSTED: December 2, 2012 12:33 a.m.
For the Forsyth County News/

A number of students from Forsyth County recently traveled to the Capitol to participate in a Youth Assembly program.

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Some of the proposed bills included requiring a driver’s license for boat operators and making it illegal for people to smoke in their vehicle if they’re traveling with a child.

Mary Rose and Holly Reeves, the bills’ authors, watched as their measures went through the legislative process and passed out of committee. Debate on the floor followed and the measures were each eventually approved by both the House and the Senate.

Unfortunately for the 15-year-old twins, the youth governor opted not to sign either bill during the 68th annual Youth Assembly, sponsored by the State YMCA of Georgia.

“It can get pretty heated with everybody trying to debate bills, but it’s just really fun to watch,” said Mary Rose Reeves, who authored the boating license legislation.

Holly Reeves said she wasn’t sure how the legislative process worked until participating in Youth Assembly, where students got to play roles of lobbyists and lawmakers, among others.

“It was really interesting and it was fun,” Holly Reeves said. “But it was kind of hard to figure out which ones were good and which ones were not, and if it would actually make it as a real bill.”

The mock General Assembly was attended by hundreds of students in the Y Club, which promotes leadership, Christian values, civic responsibility and government involvement among teenagers.

From Forsyth County, students hailed from North and West Forsyth high schools and Horizon Christian Academy, as well as the Forsyth Home School program.

Melody McWhorter, a Horizon teacher, said it was just the school’s second year being involved with the Y Club, but the experience has stirred interest in her students, two of whom attended this year’s assembly.

“Now that we’ve actually gone and these students have seen and been a part of it, the students can tell other students what it was like,” she said.

“We try to teach students to go out into the community in a civic and government type of role with Christian perspectives … so the Youth Assembly was a great thing to jump right in there and take on the roles of the government down at the capitol building.”

The program also extends to middle school students through the Junior Youth Assembly that was held earlier in the month.

District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton got to spend time with students from both groups. While he’s a bit partial to the state YMCA because his daughter is a district director, he said it’s also a great program he wishes he had been a part of as a child.

“I was very impressed with the high level of maturity, intelligence, knowledge, presence and in their confidence in their various speaking and leadership roles,” said Hamilton, a Republican from Cumming.

“It was very rewarding to see so many outstanding young men and women represent their respective schools in such a fine way. I dare say some of these middle school and high school students already know more than some adults in the legislative process and I am confident we will see some of them running for office and making other great contributions in their communities around the state in the future.”

The Reeves’ mother, Terri Jo. said she started a home-school chapter of the Y Club so her daughters could experience what she had.

“I was in the Y club at Forsyth County years and years ago,” she said. “And I went to Youth Assembly back then and I really enjoyed it.

“Most of the bills are something that children feel strongly about and … they debate and fight for their bill. It helps them see the real process and how it goes.”

 

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