Teens take over Legislative Hall

YMCA sponsors Youth in Government in Dover
The Sussex County Family YMCA's Youth in Government delegation includes (l-r) Samantha Jamgochian, advisor; Bryanna Miller; Megan Hart; Zach Kraus; Joel Simon, advisor; Ethan Simon; Joseph Casey; Austin MacElrevey; Stephen Anderson; and Aubrey Inkster. SOURCE SUBMITTED
April 14, 2014

Cape High senior Bryanna Miller knows being nice can be the best way to get something done – especially in government.

“Diplomacy is important,” the 17-year-old said. “Even if you are going to tear down another's idea, it is important to say something nice.”

Bryanna was one of about 150 students statewide who participated in a recent annual Youth in Government Model Legislative Assembly in Dover. The high school and middle school students learned about parlimentary procedure, served on legislative committees and developed their own legislation, said Sharon R. Kaplan, director of community relations for the YMCA of Delaware.

“Youth in Government is a YMCA national program whose goals include identifying, teaching and role-playing leadership qualities and skill sets,” Kaplan said.

For Bryanna, that meant serving as the secretary of education over the course of a mock three-day legislative session. She said she researched and preparated for the program, earning her a Best Written Legislation Award.

“Research is really important,” Byanna said. “You can do anything through research and preparation.”

Most important, she said, when you are informed on a subject, you earn respect.

Bryanna was joined by Sussex Tech sophomore Zach Kraus and Cape students Stephan Anderson, Aubrey Inkster, Megan Hart and Austin MacElrevey – who each achieved personal accomplishments. Zach, who served as the secretary of labor, wrote a bill requiring basic safety skills to graduate from high school; the bill passed the House and Senate and was signed by the youth governor. Stephen was chosen as one of eight best new delegates in the state.

Aubrey, Megan and Austin all produced bills that were passed in their respective chambers, said Youth in Government advisor Joel Simon.

This year was Byanna's second time attending Youth in Government, and her second time chosen to attend a national conference. She was one of 12 students chosen statewide to represent Delaware at the Conference on National Affairs held from Saturday, June 28, to Thursday, July 3, in North Carolina. Stephen and Megan were two of 10 selected as alternates to the national program in case any selected delegates cannot attend, Simon said.

“Last year I was nervous to be one of 600 of the best in the country,” said Bryanna, who will represent both Cape Henlopen High School and the Sussex Family YMCA when she attends the event.

It's an entirely different experience from the state program because national parliamentary procedure is not the same as at the state level, she said. But her time there has given her a new outlook on life.

“This experience has inspired me to pursue a career in public service,” she said.