Runnels | Independent School, Baton Rouge


Eighth Grade Participates in Youth Legislature


The entire 8th grade had an inside look at the workings of state government this week as participants in Youth Legislature at the Louisiana Old State Capitol. The two-day mock legislative session that ran March 27-28, sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge, allows students to assume the roles of key players in state government, including governor, cabinet members, state senators and representatives, lobbyists, and members of the press corps. Participants also have the opportunity to propose, defend, and vote on bills they have prepared in advance.

Organizing the trip and guiding students through the months-long process of writing bills and preparing for the session was LA Studies teacher Rachel Kane.

Here's her take on the Youth Leg experience:

This year's Youth Legislature was a great event. The Youth Legislature process allows students to participate in a two-day mock legislative session held at the Old State Capital. Students assumed roles in all three branches of government plus the news media as they debated issues of local and state importance. By participting, they gained first-hand knowledge of the democratic process and developed leadership skills.

On the first day, students voted to elect a Governor, Speaker of the House, and President of the Senate. Madeleine Reonas and Sophia Horridge ran for Governor and both delivered amazing speeches. Though neither was elected, they did serve on the Governor's Cabinet, Sophia as Commissioner of Judiciary and Prison Affairs, and Madeleine as Commissioner of Agriculture, Wildlife and Fisheries. Emma Collett served as Senate Chaplain and Zeena Shammout as Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Phoebe Koontz was elected House Chaplain.

Four of our students' bills passed in the House and Senate. I was not at all surprised since they had worked extremely hard on researching and writing the bills and were well-prepared to present them. Immediately signed into law by the Governor were bills by Evan Shaneyfelt and Greyson Torres (Applied Economics Course) Amelia Breeden and Quin Dukaric (Making Schools More Disability-Friendly), Ethan Ho and Alan Lam (Lorax Bill) and Brooke Parsons and Cassidy Wartelle (Unsafe Foster Homes).

Students taking on roles press delegates were Ella Brigman, Alex Lam, Eli Latiolais, and Meredith Taliaferro. Their job was to research all of the bills and talk to the Senators and State Representatives about them. They also interviewed the Governor and his Cabinet about the bills that were passed.  Serving as photojournalists were Hannah Landry and Samantha Marino, who did an outstanding job of capturing our students in action.

My experience at Youth Legislature was fabulous. Watching as they presented their bills and fielded questions about them with confidence was simply awesome. Many said their two main take-aways from the experience were learning more about leadership and gaining confidence as public speakers.