Students learn to be legislators


School is out, but Historic City News has learned about a dedicated group of local middle school students who continued learning about Florida’s legislative protocol and procedures when they participated in a mock session at the St Johns County Auditorium in St Augustine on Friday, June 8.

The Florida Youth in Government program is sponsored by the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast and enables students to learn how to write and present bills they would like to see become laws for the state. This student driven national program helps them understand bill format and formulate their arguments in favor of their bill by learning to “debate ideas not people”.

St Johns County high school students David Bonaro, Peighton Jones, Katie Dyal, Brad James and Diana Oum assisted with the Junior Assembly and were among 600 students statewide that experienced Youth in Government in Tallahassee this past February.

They organized the local proceedings by presiding over the youth “Senate”, setting up the day’s agenda, demonstrating the presentation of a mock bill, and assisting the middle school youth with their bills.

The sixth through ninth grade youth legislators and their bill topics were:

• Rohan Bhargava –transportation of unsecured animals in pick-up trucks
• Samantha Cosme – funding for historical preservation and events
• Will Colbert – increase of whole fish aggregates for charter fishing license holders
• Grant Gregory – no daylight savings time for Florida
• Shirindi Suresh – raising the legal age for marriage to 20
• Vineet Doshi – the use of tasers in place of lethal weapons for household protection
• Nick Hudson – annual inspection of motor vehicles
• Anisha Patel, no smoking on public beaches

“I really like the formal debate part of Youth in Government. I can see how this will help me a lot after I get my law degree,” commented Nick Hudson. Samantha Cosme remarked, “I learned a lot I didn’t know before I started doing my research for my bill about historic preservation.”

Created to prepare students for responsible leadership in the American democratic process, YMCA Youth in Government gives kids the support and encouragement to discover who they are and what they can achieve.

Through the program, students have the opportunity to learn first-hand how state government operates all while building leadership skills, self-confidence and earning college credit.

The Youth in Government program will start again in September and is open to any student in the 6th-12th grades. For more information, call Danielle Smith, YMCA Family Program Director at 904-471-9622 extension 211.