Bobcats Take Over the State Capital
The students of Youth in Government club recently attended MGA in Richmond.
YMCA’s Mock General Assembly is an enriching experience for teenagers from all over the state to come together in the capital city of Richmond. This experience tests the students’ leadership skills by presenting their bills and giving them the opportunity to express their standpoints. Important issues are debated among the participants when they are placed right into the legislative process and learn how it occurs in real life. Students may assume the roles of senator, delegate, officer, lobbyist, reporter, or underclassmen legislator. This engaging experience shapes teens into potential leaders. The 2017 session took place from March 23rd to March 25th.
To start off, the Assembly opens up with committee meetings and the participants are assigned to be either a house delegate or a senator. Bill drafts are presented to the committee where it can be either amended, rejected, or passed. If accepted, they are presented the next day by the patron in front of the legislature. The following day, all participants go into the chambers to debate all the bills previously passed by the committee. Similarly, in the chambers, the bills can are rejected, amended, or passed by the students voting “yay” or “nay”. Primary elections are held on the first night and the regular elections are held the next day. Finally, all accepted bills are sent to the Youth Governor, and he then announces which bills he decides to pass. The legislation process is complete at last and all delegates reward themselves with activities and a governor’s ball to wrap up the trip.
This year’s Mock General Assembly was nothing short of interesting. Senior, Mark Johnston, fulfilled the role of 2017 Youth Governor where he had the opportunity to meet the Governor and had special tours of the Capitol building. “This year was definitely different from other years,” Johnston said. “As Youth Governor, I was taken much more seriously. I was treated like a celebrity although I was really out of my comfort zone.”
Also, many underclassmen attended the Mock General Assembly this year in hopes of an enriching experience. Sophomore and first-time participant Emma-Kate Greene had an unforgettable experience that exceeded the expectations. “Our bill was the lowering of the drinking age to 18, we presented it in the committee, but it did not pass,” Greene says. “Overall, MGA turned out to be much more fun than I could’ve expected.”
These dedicated students were in session for six hours on Friday and four hours on Saturday. Over 50 bills were presented, and a large number of them were debated on for a long while. Evidently, Some bills needed to be shut down quickly.
Overall, the Mock General Assembly is an unforgettable learning experience. Both new and old participants can strongly agree that MGA is worth attending and an experience they will hold on to. As said by officer Mark Johnston, “MGA is a wonderful experience and I highly encourage anyone to attend.”