By Tia Lynn Lecorchick Staff Writer
The Georgia Youth Assembly is a three-day student government conference run by The Georgia Center for Civic Engagement, a program sponsored by the State YMCA of Georgia.
Georgia high school students from across the state gather to form a mock legislature, debating current political issues and passing bills. Students can choose between posing as senators, state representatives, lawyers, lobbyists, or media representatives.
Students can even run for election for leadership positions in the executive and legislative branches. “GYA is one of the most powerful experiences our students have during their high school career. Imagine standing in front of two hundred people to express your opinions. I know it’s something that I couldn’t have imagined as a 15-year-old! I am so proud of our ‘kids’ who show everyone that they are truly ‘young adults’!” said MCHS Principal Jim Malanowski.
Amy BeMent, a MCHS teacher and chaperone for the GYA event believes the yearly conference prepares high students for political understanding and involvement in the future. “This is the most empowering program I have ever been a part of. Students not only walk away with a better understanding of the legislative/judicial process than most adults have, but they also find their voice and feel empowered to use it!” said Amy BeMent, a MCHS teacher and chaperone for the event. MCHS began attending the GYA in 2005.
The first year only six MCHS students attended. School officials are pleased to see how MCHS involvement has drastically grown over the years. “Morgan County has built a reputation over the last eight years for professionalism and excellence. We continued to add to that reputation this year,” said BeMent. MCHS students earned numerous awards at this year’s Georgia Youth Assembly. MaCayla Cook and Elizabeth Cagle won for Youth Assembly Associate Justice for 2014. Katherine Martin and Wyatt Martin won for Best Judicial Team.
Hogan Tuell won for Speaker of the House for 2014. Mauli Desai won for Best Bill Award. Desai also received the McCutchen Award, along with Tuell, Clark Orr and Haleigh White. Caroline Harrison received an Honorable Mention as Senate Female Statesman. Maggie Hume won for Outstanding Media Delegate.
The MCHS chaperones also issues the CORE of One Morgan award to the students who best practice consistency, focus on others, responsibility and enthusiasm. This year, the CORE of One Morgan award went to Caroline Harrison and Ben McMichael. Malanowski is particularly proud of the CORE of One Morgan award. “ Unlike the other GYA awards that come with plaques and public adulation, the CORE of One Morgan is an ‘internal’ MCHS recognition that comes with heartfelt thanks, appreciation, and admiration from the advisers for exemplifying the spirit of One Morgan,” said Malanowski. Participating students found the opportunity a worthwhile endeavor. “We got to go to the State Capitol and sit in the seats of the people who shape our laws. That was my favorite part, said Bianca De La Torre, a MCHS junior.
“It was really cool to see how the government works. It was fun meeting students from other school, even though we had to judicially argue against them,” said Madeline McCanless, a MCHS junior. “It was such a great experience. It really gave me an idea of what it is like to be in the state legislature,” said Tom Ring, a MCHS junior.