Dozens of high school students from the 51st Senate District spent the day in Springfield holding a mock committee hearing to vote on legislation that they had proposed, all as part of State Sen. Chapin Rose’s (R-Mahomet) Youth Advisory Council program.
“The idea here is to get kids interested in government by letting them actually take part in it,” said Rose. “I think this is great way to get them involved and show them that this is something they can do, that they can be future leaders in our nation.”
The students started the day touring the Capitol and meeting with lawmakers, lobbyists, staffers, and reporters who cover the Capitol. Then the students took on those same roles for a mock committee hearing on a topic they had previously agreed on and prepared to debate.
“I’ve definitely learned that there’s a lot more to government than I thought,” said Shelbyville High School student Harrison Wooters. “Government is a lot more fluid and not as static as I thought it was, so I think understanding how our government works is probably one of the best skills I’ve learned from today.”
“We’re going to be the ones running government in our lifetime, so we might as well learn how to do it,” said Clinton Community High School student Rustin Wertz.
During the committee, students served in designated roles as lawmakers, lobbyists, concerned citizens, reporters, and even Senate staffers. Their legislation, which would make changes to education curriculum, was lobbied for and against, debated, and then voted on. The legislation eventually passed the mock committee.
“I’ve learned a lot about talking with people that have different viewpoints than me, people that have different life experiences than me, people that are younger than me, it’s a really great learning experience in working with people,” said Monticello High School student Lily Brown. “I’ve loved communicating with these people here, both on my side of the argument and the other, I’ve loved debating, and this is something that I’m super passionate about.”
Throughout my life I’ve been interested in running for office “,” said Mt. Zion High School student Jacob Roubein. “What I’m hoping to take away from Senator Rose’s meeting is learning how to cooperate with both sides, when you treat people with respect they will treat you with respect that opens doors.”
Rose’s Youth Advisory Council program will begin again in the fall. If you know of any students in the 51st Senate District that would be interested in taking part, the Senator encourages them to ask their principal, or contact his district office at (217) 607-1853.
“I think this is a great opportunity for these students to explore careers in government,” said Rose. “When you hear the discussions and the debate taking place, it’s clear that we have found a lot of our future leaders here.”