Students pass bill at Youth and Government

Dylan Chain and Jack Spreen

Senior President, Leslie Blalock and junior Vice President, Jules Micchia led Youth and Government (YAG) students through a conference at the Raleigh Convention Center Feb. 11-14.

At Youth and Government, students draft bills beforehand and argue them at the conference in hopes of moving it up the legislative process.

AP Government teacher and advisor for YAG, Jeremiah Mattingly rates this year’s conference among the best in the schools’ history.

“Obviously as the bills are concerned it was great because we had one that made it all the way through.  It was the first bill from Wake Forest High School to pass,” Mattingly said. “Then we had one that made it to the Governor’s Cabinet, which again was a first. It was good in that aspect.  The numbers were a little bit lower. I think next year we will do a better job of fundraising so more kids can go. Overall, I thought it was great.  The ones that went were amazing and it was a lot of fun.”

The people behind the bills were extremely passionate about their topic.

“They were very concrete or solid as far as it was hard to go against them because they had such good reasoning behind them,” Mattingly said.

Sophomore, Isabel Padalecki’s legislation was designed to address discrimination in the workplace, and she picked the topic because she wanted to do something that promoted human rights. Padalecki’s bill made it all the way through the legislative process.

“Isabel did a very good job of writing hers up, and the boys did a very good job of writing theirs up. Ironically, one that wrote the bill said I wouldn’t vote for it myself, and he said I just wanted to take the other point of view when it comes to gun control,” Mattingly said.

Padalecki was proud of her work.

“I presented it pretty well, and I was passionate about my topic. I also did my research,” Padalecki said.

Senior Jackson Matthews and Nathan Mehl presented a bill about firearm safety.  The purpose of the bill was not only to educate the buyer but the seller as well.

“It would help lower unnecessary deaths in the home due to improper knowledge of fire arms, such as storing it away from children because they will find it,” Mehl said.

Mattingly wants new faces and a bigger group to attend the conference as he thinks it leads to a very positive experience worth the money.

“It’s completely optional.  It’s like a club. The biggest downfall of it is its pretty expensive because you’re away for an entire weekend. We typically range between five and ten students that do attend,” Mattingly said.

YAG teaches more than just the bill writing process of the state and U.S. government.

“They get to see the bill writing process in more detail, which helps because we only cover it one day in class. The biggest part is the interaction with other kids because they are standing up in front of 150-200 of their peers which, is good for public speaking,” Mattingly said.

YAG students think very highly and recommend attending the conference.

Blalock said, “Definitely do it. It is totally worth every minute of it. You learn so much about the process, get to hear many different views, and you meet many new people.”