Nearly 70 high school students from 26 high schools across State Sen. Chapin Rose’s (R-Mahomet) 51st Senate District participated in a unique, hands-on experience in public policy, state government, and leadership on Dec. 8, as part of Rose’s Youth Advisory Council. Rose hosted the all-day Youth Advisory Council in Decatur at Richland Community College with the students being selected by their principals and teachers.
The students interacted with a wide range of local opinion leaders and got an in-depth look at how state government works. Rose shared his experiences at the Statehouse, led a presentation on the state budget, and explained how public policy can shape the student’s everyday lives.
“I was very impressed with the caliber of these students,” Rose said. “They are definitely among Illinois’ best and brightest.”
Students also spent time in small groups discussing and debating policy issues important to them and how any new proposal could face challenges or become successful legislation. During these discussions, Rose spent time with each small group, asking students questions about their proposed policy change and how they would advocate for their issue.
Students also heard from Sister Ritamary Brown from St. Mary’s Hospital, Brian Byers, radio host of Byers & Company on WSOY Decatur, and Julie Curry, a lobbyist and President of Curry and Associates. The speakers shared stories of their experiences in the workforce and provided first-hand knowledge about public policy, leadership, and how to be successful.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Tyler McLain from Central A&M High School. “We’ve had group discussions which has allowed me to get a lot of my issues out on the table I have a problem with. I believe a lot of things are broken in Illinois and I want to help fix it.”
“I have enjoyed talking to other students from other schools,” said Chase Trainor from Shelbyville High School. “It’s neat to see students from other schools have some of the same interests as I do even though some of their opinions may be different.”
“I am passionate about politics and the issues going on in the world,” said Abigail Minnis from Paris H.S. “I came here to hear what other people thought, and it’s a way to speak to government officials to tell them what we think. We are the new generation going into politics, and I want a voice.”
“It’s nice to hear the views of other students and hear what they are thinking and the arguments they have,” said Kolby Rickman from Arthur/Lovington/Atwood-Hammond High School.
In the spring, Rose’s Youth Advisory Council continues when students visit the Statehouse in Springfield. There, they will tour the capitol, experience the legislative process up close, be active participants in a mock committee hearing, and hear from legislative leaders about what it’s like to do their job.
The following schools participated:
1. Arcola High School
2. Argenta-Oreana High School
3. Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond High School
4. Bement High School
5. Central A&M High School
6. Cerro Gordo High School
7. Clinton High School
8. Fisher High School
9. Heritage High School
10. Heyworth High School
11. LeRoy High School
12. Mahomet-Seymour High School
13. Maroa-Forsyth Senior High School
14. Monticello High School
15. Mt. Zion High School
16. Okaw Valley High School
17. Paris High School
18. Salt Fork High School
19. Shelbyville High School
20. Shiloh High School
21. Sullivan High School
22. Unity High School
23. Tri-Valley High School
24. Tuscola High School
25. Villa Grove High School
26. Warrensburg-Latham High School