Democracy comes alive for Confluence Preparatory Academy students
Democracy comes alive for Confluence Preparatory Academy students
Posted on 12/13/2012
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Twenty-four students from Confluence Preparatory Academy joined students from across the state at a three-day conference in Jefferson City focused on government.

 

Missouri YMCA Youth in Government (YIG) is a student-driven simulation of state government. More than 800 students in grades 8-12 take part in the annual conference. Every fall, students choose their roles in local delegations, and at the YIG state event, students create their version of government under the guidelines of the Missouri Constitution. The program began in 1949 with a motto of “Democracy must be learned by each generation.”

 

During the conference, legislators meet in committees in the House and Senate chambers to debate. Attorneys try cases before judges and engage in moot trial competition. The conference is covered by a newspaper that publishes four times in three days, and by a television news program that airs several times each day. There are campaigns and elections for officers who will serve their roles the next year.

 

Each student from CPA is involved in Student Council. To attend the conference, they had to complete a bill or a trial brief, and have grades of C or above. Scholarship money from the Greater St. Louis YMCA Downtown branch paid for expenses. Teachers Jennifer Luker, social studies, and Deanna Tamborelli, Spanish, attended the conference.

 

Seniors Tyreisha Stevenson, Amira Mellion and Asia Goodlow shared their thoughts about the experience.

 

Mellion, who is senior class president, enjoyed the legislative aspect of YIG. She worked on a bill, one that she is “passionate about” because it involves awareness of assaults against girls and women.

 

“It didn’t end up passing, but it was debated for a long time,” said Mellion.

 

Stevenson and Goodlow were partners in the judicial realm of the conference. They were lawyers on a case involving cyber bullying. The situation, which was complicated, posed the questions, “Is it really bullying?” and “Is the school liable?”

 

“The conference was really fun and really nice. A lot of kids held their titles with so much pride. I wish more kids from our school would get involved,” said Stevenson.

 

Mellion added that she wished she would have gotten involved much sooner, but it was “still a good experience.”

 

“It was really new for me, too,” said Goodlow. “In tenth grade, I participated in the news media of YIG. This year was different. It was over-the-top perfect. A lot of people helped me, too.”

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 CPA seniors Asia Goodlow, Tyreisha Stevenson and Amira Mellion
 attended the Missouri Youth in Government conference.


Working together was a common theme at the conference, the girls noted. They appreciated meeting other students, and they have a better understanding of what it means to be open to different opinions.

 

“It’s really difficult to persuade people to think like you do,” said Stevenson. “You have to work hard, and put a lot of thought into what you’re going to say to present your case.”

 

“The experience shows you that you have to be open to different opinions,” said Mellion.

 

When asked what they would say to convince a classmate, a friend or a new student to participate in YIG, their answers were similar, but Goodlow summed it up best.

 

“If you like a good challenge, if you want to meet new people, and if you want to have a good experience, you’ll join Youth in Government,” she said.

 

In addition to Student Council and YIG, the girls are involved in YMCA Leaders.

 

As seniors, the girls are working toward life after graduation.

 

Stevenson has been accepted to the University of Central Missouri, Drury University and University of Kansas. She wants to study biology and pre-medicine. At school, she is a student ambassador, an office assistant and a manager for the girls’ basketball team. She wants to study abroad in England.

 

Mellion is researching the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has a scholarship offer from Lindenwood University, and has been accepted to St. Louis Community College-Forest Park. She is interested in culinary arts and photography. She is a manager of the girls’ basketball team, takes an independent study class in art and has a part-time job.

 

Goodlow was accepted to Missouri State University. She is researching the University of Missouri-Kansas City. After a field trip to Bank of America, she is interested in accounting. She works part-time after school.

 

Luker said that CPA has participated in YIG for the past four years. After the state conference, students continue their involvement through YIG related activities, including a city convention in February.

 

As for the state event, for some students, it’s a first in many ways.

 

“For some of the students, it is the first time they have ever left St. Louis or stayed in a hotel. They enjoy the exposure to other students and the new environment. It also gives them a chance to visit the state capital and participate in a mock government solely run by students. It is truly amazing what the students achieve in just three days,” said Luker.

 

Several CPA students earned awards or recognition at the conference. JaKell Watson won an award for Best States Person in the House of Representatives. Ariel Davis-Rayford won an award for best article in the YIG newspaper. Sasha Worthy was honored for her work as the YIG editor in chief. Jonee Rogers, Keyana Bailey, Tieria Shearer and Ashley Harris won their school trial, as well as Toshanna Armstrong, Alfredo Martinez and Jasmine Spates.

 

The Missouri YMCA Youth in Government program is operated by the Jefferson City Area YMCA. Membership in the YMCA is not required to participate in Youth in Government.