FHC Youth and Government Group Takes Home Top Awards at State Conference

Posted on 12/20/2017
FHC Youth and Government Group Takes Home Top Awards at State Conference

It is in our nature to desire improvement in the way our government operates, no matter where we fall on the political spectrum. But some people actually do more than talk – they take action. The Francis Howell Central High School Youth and Government (also known as Youth in Government) group took their first step toward affecting positive change when they recently traveled to Jefferson City, Missouri, for the YAG annual state convention. If they are the future of government, then the future is bright.

At the 69th annual YAG convention in Jefferson City, Missouri, FHC students shined among the 700 Missouri students who attended. Activities Director Scott Harris gushed about the students’ success. “It was a great honor for these students to receive so many of these coveted leadership spots,” he said. “We should all congratulate them for a job well done.”

Sixteen FHC students served in top positions and/or received top awards at the convention. Their advisor, FHC math tutor and National Board Certified Teacher Margo Hoffmann said, "How proud I am of all our kids. They worked hard, and the effort paid off."

Juniors Mayleigh Davenport, Nicole Fortney, and Jenna Schwesig held Committee Chair positions, demonstrating their understanding of parliamentary procedure and their ability to manage, teach, and prepare the delegates for House floor debate. They were two of twelve students to hold these leadership positions, and they had great influence in the rules committee selection and discussion of bills. Fortney also walked away with the Outstanding Chairperson Award.

Senior Gabe Prather served as the Floor Leader of the House of Representatives this year, and his guidance kept the House running smoothly for three days. Junior Gillian Eichel exhibited her thorough research and presentation ability during debate sessions, which landed her the Outstanding Statesperson Award, the top award given to a House member. Junior Carlie Connors also showed her expertise in the Senate and came away with the Outstanding Statesperson Award, competing against over 200 other students for the honor. Representative Eichel introduced a bill, which dealt with banning cell phone use while driving, and it passed into law. It is rare that a youth Governor signs a bill into law during the conference, so getting this bill passed is an extraordinary achievement. Eichel received two of the top awards available in her first year of participation.

Freshmen Sophie Horowitz and Emily Zuehlke both presented bills that were debated on the House floor. Horowitz introduced a bill regulating religious holidays and major testing dates in public high schools. Zuehlke introduced a bill that would create self-sustaining prisons in Missouri, which was so engaging that she received the Most Debatable Bill Award.

In the Senate, senior Sophia Couteranis presented her bill pertaining to follow-up visits after domestic violence police calls. Junior Carlie Connors’ bill, about transgender restrooms in public high schools, passed the Senate, but ultimately failed in the House.

The FHC Media crews were spectacular this year, as well. One of the FHC video news crews, Katie Heinrich and Thea Zubovic, won the Best Hard News Story Award, for their piece, “Veteran’s Day Story,” while Meghan Shinault and Abby Budde won Most Artistically Assembled Story, “So You Think You Can Dance.” Gracie Aguilar, Paige Fann, and Ella Yawitz won Most Hard Working Team. Junior Marlee Dunham was elected as the 2018 Technical News Director/Coordinator. She will be producing, editing, and directing all the YAG newscasts next year. In Print Media, senior Gabe Delgado was given the prestigious Best Feature Story Award for his piece, “Forever YAG.”

All twenty-four Francis Howell Central YAG members enjoyed three days of fun, learning and hard work with delegation leader Marlee Dunham and their advisors, Hoffmann and returning FHC graduate, Ida Hoffmann-Randall.

YAG is a YMCA-sponsored event.

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