A Weekend at the Capitol

By: Kathryn Blanco

In the January issue, I mentioned some ways of expanding political engagement right here at Lauralton. One such program, Youth and Government, recently held its annual conference. As a YAG newbie, I thought I’d share some perspective on the event for any interested students and explain how this school program relates to the real world.

Each YAG member crafts a bill over the course of the year. The bills are presented at a pre-states event and then debated fully at the state conference, which takes place at the gorgeous Connecticut State Capitol and adjoining Legislative Office Building. Once at the conference, however, debating bills in the House of Representatives is just one option open to students. YAGers can debate in the smaller, more intense Senate, argue a legal case in Youth and Law, or participate in the Press Corps and churn out three newspapers a day. Not only do these activities improve speaking, writing, and leadership skills (just ask the three Lauralton girls who held elected positions – Lieutenant Governor Kate Canavan, Secretary of the State Maya Zaleski, and Editor-in-Chief Hannah Haynes), they offer an opportunity to learn about state government as well. Coming up with bills educates students about what constitutes a state versus federal issue. Following decorum, using phrases like “I move the previous question,” and offering amendments make the technicalities of the legislative process a first-hand experience. Of course, the bills themselves are also informative. Proposals from therapy dogs (or frogs) in schools to opioid prescription restrictions bring to light a wide range of local issues. Gaining some understanding about the heretofore mysterious process by which change happens on a state level made the whole system feel more approachable. I was inspired to learn more about state government and perhaps even participate in it, and I’d encourage you all to open yourselves up to the same experience.

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