Up­com­ing YMCA youth as­sem­bly opens regis­tra­tion

The Covington News - - Local news -

In this elec­tion year, one po­lit­i­cal event stands pop­u­lar with all par­ties, all chal­lengers, and all in­cum­bents: the “takeover” of the Ge­or­gia gov­ern­ment by hun­dreds of the state’s bright­est teenagers. The agency spon­sor­ing this and other youth-in­govern­ment pro­grams, the State YMCA of Ge­or­gia, an­nounces regis­tra­tion is open for the 2008 Youth As­sem­bly, to be held Nov. 23-25 in At­lanta.

“There’s noth­ing like it for un­der­stand­ing gov­ern­ment, learn­ing to ne­go­ti­ate and co­op­er­ate, and min­gling with the po­lit­i­cal pow­ers that be,” said high school se­nior, Caleb Faille of Daw­son County High School, this year’s Youth Gov­er­nor. At most Youth As­sem­blies, the ac­tual Gov­er­nor of the state also makes an ap­pear­ance to en­cour­age the stu­dents in their hand­son ex­pe­ri­ence in gov­ern­ment. Gov­er­nor Sunny Per­due has yet to con­firm his in­tended ap­pear­ance but has been in at­ten­dance in years past.

A past youth gov­er­nor, W. Gre­gory Pope, now an at­tor­ney in Cov­ing­ton,, was asked about his par­tic­i­pa­tion in Youth As­sem­bly more than 20 years ago, “Youth As­sem­bly gave me my first taste of suc­cess be­yond the con­fines of my ru­ral com­mu­nity. I still re­mem­ber the im­por­tance that I felt by be­ing al­lowed to sit in the House and Se­nate cham­bers; I still re­mem­ber the thrill of stand­ing in the well to speak for or against the pas­sage of a bill, and I will never for­get the honor of serv­ing as Youth Gov­er­nor. The stu­dents who get in­volved will make you proud.”

Dur­ing the three-day takeover of the state Capi­tol by youth from through­out towns, cities, and all re­gions of Ge­or­gia, stu­dents may par­tic­i­pate in all three branches of gov­ern­ment. In the leg­isla­tive branch, stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in draft­ing and de­bat­ing bills, and in lob­by­ing for their leg­is­la­tion; in the ju­di­cial branch, the stu­dents take on a case be­fore adult lawyers and a stu­dent jus­tice; and in the ex­ec­u­tive branch, stu­dents take on elected po­si­tions such as Gov­er­nor, Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, Speaker of the House, and oth­ers.

Those who have at­tended Youth As­sem­bly have gone on to var­i­ous pro­fes­sions and walks of life, but ac­cord­ing to State YMCA pub­li­cists, most vo­cal in their praise of the pro­gram are at­tor­neys, judges, and busi­ness leaders. Judge David Ir­win (Rock­dale County Su­pe­rior Court) noted that “Youth As­sem­bly still has a bear­ing on me to­day. It fos­tered a de­sire to study...to have a com­plete un­der­stand­ing of our le­gal sys­tem. Youth As­sem­bly is not sim­ply an event but is a life­long ad­ven­ture.”

When asked about the pur­pose and past suc­cess of the pro­gram, Ger­ald Wade, state YMCA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, noted that the pro­gram dates back to 1945 and has seen the likes of thou­sands of stu­dents fill the seats of the state leg­is­la­ture through the years.

“It’s one of those pro­grams to help keep the “good kids good,” said Wade, who came out of re­tire­ment to over­see the resur­gence of Youth As­sem­bly. Ac­cord­ing to Wade, Youth As­sem­bly, a pro­gram de­signed for high school stu­dents, was so pop­u­lar that there has been a “Ju­nior Youth As­sem­bly” added for mid­dle school stu­dents. While Youth As­sem­bly ac­tu­ally op­er­ates un­der the gold dome of the State Capi­tol, Ju­nior Youth As­sem­bly oc­curs a few blocks away at At­lanta’s down­town Sher­a­ton.

U.S. Se­na­tor Johnny Isak­son (R-GA), a for­mer par­tic­i­pant, had this to say about Youth As­sem­bly: “Gov­ern­ment is a par­tic­i­pa­tory sport, and to­day’s stu­dents will soon play a key role in de­ter­min­ing the fu­ture of our na­tion. I en­cour­age all el­i­gi­ble stu­dents to take part in the State YMCA of Ge­or­gia’s Youth As­sem­bly pro­gram. It’s an in­cred­i­ble ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­nity.”

Ac­cord­ing to the StateYMCA of­fice, the regis­tra­tion dead­line for stu­dents in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing Youth As­sem­bly or Ju­nior Youth As­sem­bly is Oct. 24, and the stan­dard price, in­clu­sive of lodg­ing at the Sher­a­ton and sev­eral meals is $185. Stu­dents may par­tic­i­pate in Youth As­sem­bly by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the del­e­ga­tions com­ing from their com- mu­ni­ties — ei­ther their school’s Y-Clubs or their lo­cal YMCA, if ap­pli­ca­ble. Any in­ter­ested stu­dent or adult wish­ing to vol­un­teer to help with this well­re­spected youth-in-gov­ern­ment pro­gram should con­tact the State YMCA’s of­fice toll free at (866) 423-2582 or visit www.yclub. org.

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