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Albany High Rocks the Youth and Government Conference

Jack Berry, Managing Editor

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Over the weekend of March 10th the annual New York State YMCA Youth and Government Conference was held at the state Capitol in downtown Albany.

Schools from all over the state sent their brightest minds to argue over the direction our state will take in the future and Albany High was no exception. Our school along with a few others from the Capital Region attended the conference as district 2, one of eight in total. Our students were sorted into four groups, the legislative, judicial, lobbyists, and press.

The legislative group spent the first day in committee, rating bills based on their debatability, comprehensiveness, and style in small groups. Based off this rating each bill was given a score, which determined when it would be actually debated in congress; those with a high score went first.

The top ten bills were debated after dinner Friday night, one of which was by myself (Jack Berry), Jaidon Cupidon, and LeAsia Royall of Albany High about advocacy centers. The  other bill out of our school was led by Arianna Brooks and QArayone X Lomack.

On Saturday, the entire legislative branch was split into three groups: the freedom assembly, the liberty assembly, and the senate. Each group voted on a third of the almost 100 bills written for this conference. This continued into Sunday, when the bills vetoed by the governor of the program (a senior from another district) were given a chance to override their vetoes. Arianna’s and Q’s bill passed, however my group’s bill was vetoed and we chose not to attempt to override it.

Judicial had a very busy schedule. When they first arrived those who were chosen to be justices were announced. Those people were given robes and caps, and then them and the rest of the group entered the mock courtroom. In their groups of two, they would present a notable case of the past to the justices, either to overturn the previous ruling or keep it in place. Each side got a chance explain to the justices their logic and the justices were able to ask questions. A verdict was then given. Albany High’s very own judicial  members, William Phillips and Dua Kaurejo, won their case spectacularly.

Lobbyists had a schedule similar to the legislators, but with more freedom. Lobbyists were able to go from each assembly and the senate to lobby for or against the bill that was to be voted on. Most lobbyists, including our own Aminata Toumbou (the former head lobbyist) lobbied for five or more bills over the course of the three days, each of which took hours of writing speeches and researching to do.

Finally there was the press group. Throughout the day the reporters of press, including our own Prethe Mohiuddin, went to each of the assembly areas and mock trial areas to interview students, get footage, and record the events. Then, during dinner, they would meet and edit the footage together into a short local news-style broadcast that everyone would watch at the end of the day, with commentary and commercials included!

On Sunday after the program was finished, all the districts met in the main room for one more meeting. Earlier that day we had voted on several positions, including governor, and candidates gave speeches as to why they were the best choice. These results were revealed and the new governor chosen was the former head lobbyist, our very own Aminata Toumbou!

Afterwards we all said our goodbyes and left on buses to travel home. Anyone who has even a cursory interest in Youth and Government should join the program!

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You Can't Hide That Falcon Pride!
Albany High Rocks the Youth and Government Conference