An inside look at Youth in Government

You wake up to your alarm fervently beeping, attached to a charger in the wall. It’s early in the morning and you need to get up and get ready. But, this is no ordinary school day. This is a Youth in Government morning and there’s only three mornings a year like this one.

Instead of waking up in your bed and getting ready to go to school, you are waking up and getting ready to get on a bus to take you from the Hilton in Minneapolis to the Capitol in St. Paul. Upon arrival, you hurry up the seemingly endless stairs of the Capitol because, let’s face it, Minnesota’s winters aren’t very warm. After powering up the stairs, you end up in the newly renovated Minnesota State Capitol. You make your way to the senate chamber which is utterly breathtaking.

Seen above you, sketching its presence into the walls is part of Patrick Henry’s famous speech. The paintings are intricate and the desks are from the original Senate. So much history has been made here and continues to be made each year. Signing up for Youth in Government (YIG), also known as Model Assembly, gives you the ability to not only learn about our government and be active participants within it, but allows you to decide which section of the government is most interesting to you. Choosing the Senate in this case means that before this weekend you thought long and hard about what Minnesota needs. This means that you had the opportunity to write a bill to be debated on both the Senate and House of Representatives floors to ultimately (hopefully) be passed by the governor.

This is where high school students with a love for government and debating thrive. Youth in Government is truly an experience that countless students across Minnesota look forward to all year. For some, it is a place where they feel the most understood and important. Regardless of a delegates reason for attending Youth in Government, the outcome is great. YIG is a weekend every year in January for high school students to experience our government first hand.

Whether it be through the judiciary or the legislative branch, or perhaps even the media where delegates create a news channel or put their radio show on air, every student in YIG plays a role. Working with your fellow delegates, you work together to pass a bill, represent one another in different branches of government, or perhaps even attempt impeach the governor. By attending YIG, students not only gain a better hands-on understanding of our government, but practice public speaking, and problem-solving skills that will help them later on in life. 

Don’t worry though, your time at Model Assembly is not all work. At night, after committee and floor sessions end, there are a wide array of activities going on back at the hotel. Each night presents a new activity. Anything from talent shows, to elections, to radio shows, to meals eaten out, there is never a dull moment. 

You may even have a chance to grow closer to not only new friends, but teachers. Building relationships is an easy thing to accomplish at Youth in Government and seeing where you were that first day walking into a room of new faces, compared to the last day is monumental.

Before you, you see that one girl with the killer bill she wrote about abolishing puppy mills because of her passion about animal rights. You look to your left and you see that one guy with the bill about banning negative political campaign commercials 10 days prior to the elections because he himself wants to run for office one day. The crazy thing is, these people turn into someone you know on a more personal level. These students around you are passionate about their own individual interests and are utilizing their right to be politically active. One day, these students will not be students anymore, but instead adults, perhaps pursuing careers in this field. It is crazy to think about where we are all going one day, but we know we’re on the right path. 

A weekend that once started with other students that you may not have known as well, quickly ends with a group that you will be sad to leave. From the early mornings to night time meetings consisting of highs and lows, funny stories, and sometimes pizza, your fellow peers have become an even smaller family inside of our family at Holy Family. With a great weekend behind you, you look forward to next year where you’ll be able to see all the friends you made from other schools at YIG again. 

Written above is a short anecdote to what a day at Youth in Government may look like to someone: in this case, me. Youth in Government is something that I have become very passionate about and look forward to each and every year. With my third year coming to a close on Sunday, I wanted to give Holy Family students an inside look at what a weekend working in the Capitol is like. Since my freshman year at Holy Family, I have been attending Youth in Government with the Holy Family delegation.

This weekend is something I get excited about because my inner governmental affair nerd comes out inside of me. Working alongside new faces, perhaps at new places, has given me a better skill set to work together with others, improved my public speaking skills, and has shown me an inside look at a future career in the government or a professional business setting.

Whether you are passionate about governmental affairs, or business skills, like me, attending Youth in Government will present opportunities to obtain valuable skills. Even if government is not normally your thing, I highly encourage you to consider attending as I believe you will not be disappointed. 

With just one year left of Youth in Government, I see my fellow peers graduate each year and end their Model Assembly years, and the only thing I’ve ever heard is: “I wish I would have done Youth in Government earlier in high school.” I encourage you not to make the same mistake.