Junior high legislators debate bills at JYA

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Junior Youth Assembly, a junior high version of Youth Legislature, made its return to Prep this year after an absence. This year’s group is led by English teacher Ms. Nancy Flowers. She was offered the position by Ms. Powers since the bills require a lot of writing, and she eagerly accepted.

Ms. Flowers once worked for the Mississippi Development Authority, where she wrote in the communications division. This background in writing press releases and other government PR materials was instrumental in helping her teach her students.

This is a tradition that Ms. Flowers wants to continue for years to come. Also, she wants to bring Ms. Mary Kelly Branning in for future years. Ms. Flowers believes that her experience as governor of Youth Legislature will come in handy in teaching the students.

At the beginning, interest meetings were held so that students could learn more about the process of being involved in Youth Legislature. Also, Prep junior Alex Stradinger, the governor for this year’s Youth Legislature program, came in to talk to the students.

Later in January, Mississippi’s Lieutenant Governor, Tate Reeves, also came in and talked to the students and answered any questions that they had about their bills. Stradinger came in again later on and instructed them on how to present their bills at the conference.

The event happened April 4-6 at the downtown Marriott. It is very similar to senior high Youth Legislature, but there are fewer participants. Students present bills that they’ve written first in committee and then, hopefully, in the full House or Senate. Bills that pass both houses may be signed or vetoed by the youth governor.

This year’s Prep delegation was made up of fifteen students, fourteen from ninth grade and one eighth grader. Many of the participants for this year’s group went to Christ Covenant earlier and participated in their Youth Legislature program, so they have plenty of experience.

Ms. Flowers’ says that the program gives a chance “for them to learn the process and to have written a bill that can be presented and voted on no matter the outcome.”

The group won many awards at the conference. Worth Hewitt, Havens Smith, and Ewing Milam were named outstanding senators. Jeffrey Jordan and Julia Stradinger were named outstanding representatives. Peter Downing was named outstanding representative. Jeffrey Jordan was named most outstanding statesman, the highest award given by the junior youth assembly.

Also, some Prep senior high students held positions at the conference as well. Alex Stradinger held the position of Governor,  junior Elizabeth Downing was Speaker of the House, junior Rimes Rutledge was house majority leader, junior Jacob Perkins was senate messenger, and junior Cassidy ZumMallen served in the ceremonial role of First Lady.

Ms. Flowers’ favorite part of the experience was “seeing their hard work and watching them learn new skills that were recognized at the awards ceremony.” Ms. Flowers wants “anyone who is interested to know that it is open for sixth through ninth graders, so anyone in the junior high is welcome to join next year’s team. It is a great résumé and skill builder and a fun and exciting process.”