By Jane Kim
Nearly 3,500 teenagers from across California met in Sacramento to learn about the government by debating bills, setting budgets, and presenting court cases. Like every year, “Sac,” which is short for Sacramento, was held on President's’ Day weekend. This year marked the 68th year of the YMCA Youth and Government Model Legislature and Court and proved to be a rewarding experience for all who participated in the program.
Junior Nate Rowe represented the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA on the statewide level by running for Youth Governor. Dozens of candidates were narrowed down to five by the parties they represented at the second conference of the year, Training and Elections II in Fresno. The four parties this year were the After Party, Resistance Party, Tide Party, and Block Party. One candidate also ran unaffiliated. Nate ran with the Resistance Party and campaigned using posters, social media, and rallies.
Junior Charlie Lea said, “Although Nate didn’t win, he ran a great campaign and really united the delegation. It was a great experience to see him get so far in the election and speak in front of thousands of delegates from across California.”
On the last night of the conference at the Governor’s Banquet, the five candidates were then narrowed down to two, and all delegates participated in a caucus vote to determine who would be the Youth Governor for the following year. The air was filled with tension and excitement as Nate was announced as one of the final two candidates. Unfortunately, Nate lost by only a couple hundred votes out of thousands.
After the Governor’s Banquet, each delegation had an allotted time for a friendship ceremony where delegates shared their experience in the program in front of the entire delegation. In addition, next year’s President and Vice President were elected. Former officers Charlie Lea and Haley Ragusa were elected as president and vice president respectively. The friendship ceremony was very emotional because it was the last time the seniors were able to experience the program as delegates.
Junior Mary Alex Daniels said, “I have met some awesome people and have gotten a better understanding on how our government works, while having a super fun social aspect.”
Although Youth and Government is commonly seen as a program where teenagers gather to socialize, the program is so much more than the social aspect. If anything, meeting new people is the biggest benefit to being in the program. Youth and Government is a program that educates our youth about politics, fosters an environment for oppressed teenagers to speak, and changes the lives of those who have the opportunity to participate.
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