Around three dozen high school students came to Springfield this week to try their own hands at crafting and passing legislation as part of State Senator Chuck Weaver’s (R-Peoria) Youth Advisory Council (YAC).
“This is a great program where we take some of the best and brightest students from our district and then immerse them in the process of government,” said Senator Weaver. “The idea is to help grow our future leaders and prepare them for a life of service to their communities.”
A total of 35 students from 21 schools visited the Illinois Capitol on Wednesday, April 26
for the spring session of Senator Weaver’s YAC. The students visited the Senate floor and were recognized during session, and also met with the governor, as well as lawmakers, lobbyists, and a capitol bureau reporter.
“Getting to interact with other strongly opinionated people in a way that works to understand the other side and to try to come to some sort of a decision at the end of that, that was a very interesting experience for me. I really value the experience and getting to work with others who have strong opinion of things, I like that a lot,” said Peoria Notre Dame student Jacob Geers.
“I’ve never been here, so I was excited to see the Capitol building, and just walking around, I saw protestors and I thought that was very interesting. They could come here and they were able, they had the freedom of speech to say what they wanted, and I thought that was very cool,” said Princeton High School student Michaela Crowe.
“My favorite part of the day was sitting in the Senate chambers and getting to listen to the bills getting passed and listening to what the debates are and how they come together to work it out,” said Mercer County High School student Dalton Line.
In the afternoon, the students took over a committee room to carry out a mock hearing on legislation that they proposed during their fall meeting. Students took on the roles of lawmakers, lobbyists, concerned citizens, and reporters in the process.
“It was interesting because you had to read a bill and then think about it critically and learn how to talk to people without being brash,” said Geneseo High School student Justin Lyman
“It’s given me an excellent background in government and public speaking, learning how important it is to compromise and work with people, and also how important it is to have connections and good leadership, which is something the state needs now more so than ever,” said Galesburg High School student Isiah Harlan.
“I’m working with tomorrow’s leaders today. I get to work with bright minded individuals who not only care about the government that we are going to grow up and have to run ourselves in the future, but they’re also working on making change,” said Kewanee High School student Ty Jones.
After a heated debate, heavy lobbying, and a lot of discussion, the students voted not to advance their proposal to change the state’s process for drawing legislative districts.
“For me, working with these bright young minds is one of the highlights of being a Senator,” Senator Weaver said. “They are going to do great things, and I hope we’ve truly given them the tools to go back home and become leaders right now.”