Prep students play major roles at Youth Legislature

From Issue 5

Cass Rutledge (L) and Alex Stradinger (R), the incoming and outgoing Youth Legislature governors, shake hands with Mr. Christopher Lay (center), the program’s director.

Mid-November always brings a time of excitement for Jackson Prep students interested in government. It is during this time that the Mississippi Youth Legislature convenes, bringing high school students from around the state together to downtown Jackson for a few days of immersive experiences in government and politics.

The 2019 conference began the afternoon of Wednesday, November 13, and concluded on Saturday, November 16.  Much of the time spent at the conference took place at the Jackson Marriott hotel, but participants also divided their time between the Old Capitol Museum and the Mississippi State Capitol, where participating students got to use the actual chambers, desks, and seats of the actual Mississippi legislators. 

Students attending the conference had the opportunity to participate in a number of capacities, including as a delegate, lobbyist, member of the press, or page. A select few attendees served as elected and appointed officials, some of the most prominent hailing from Prep.

Serving as Youth Governor was Alex Stradinger, who had the responsibility of signing or vetoing bills that made it through both legislative chambers. Stradinger was assisted by a staff that included First Lady Cassidy ZumMallen.

Elizabeth Downing also served as Speaker of the House, Rimes Rutledge as House Majority Leader, and Jacob Perkins as Senate Messenger. All of the Prep students serving leadership positions were seniors, with the exception of junior Selby Ireland, who was chosen to be the chairman of the House Judicial Committee. 

Prior to the conference, delegates write a piece of legislation to be presented, debated, and then voted on by fellow delegates. The process begins in committees, assigned before the conference takes place. If the bill is passed by the committee, it is presented again in chambers (the House and Senate). If it passes both chambers, it is sent to the Governor’s desk to be either passed or failed.

Elected as the next Youth Governor for the 2020 conference was junior Cass Rutledge, who defeated two candidates from other schools. “My campaign was the most rewarding experience of my life,” said Rutledge. “It was amazing to meet people from all over the state and listen to their concerns.”

This is a distinction for Prep as the school has never had two consecutive governors lead the conference in back-to-back years. “It is cool to see Prep having two governors,” said outgoing governor Alex Stradinger.

Rounding out the 2019 conference was the awards ceremony held on Saturday. Taking home Outstanding Senator awards were Tanner Gough and Isabella Scalia, and receiving Outstanding Representative awards were Andrew Banks, Kayleigh Canoy, Selby Ireland, and Cass Rutledge, all juniors.