Over 100 high school students from across the 51st Senate District were in Springfield this week to try their hand at legislating, all as part of State Senator Chapin Rose’s (R-Mahomet) annual Youth Advisory Council program.
“One aspect of public service that I truly enjoy is the obligation to help the next generation come up and teach them, and show them how to be good citizens,” said State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). “We hope they leave here with some inside understanding of how the law-making process works and the knowledge that if they’re so inclined, they can do this. These students represent the future leaders of our state and nation.”
The students began their day in Springfield by visiting the Illinois Senate chamber, learning from Senator Rose how session days and votes are conducted. After a brief tour of the Capitol, the students heard from various speakers involved in different aspects of the legislative process, then conducted a mock legislative committee hearing.
“I wanted to come today to see how the legislature works and what the capitol is about, and knowing what goes into it and what comes out of it,” said Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond High School student Kaylee Yeakel. “I’m about to turn 18 and being an educated voter is really important and this has helped me learn a lot more about it.”
“I wanted to learn more about government and how it works, and the best way to learn is by doing it,” said Clinton High School student Krayton Carter. “This will teach me about how to work with others on things that we have differing opinions on, and to come together and find a conclusion that works for everyone.”
During the mock legislative hearing, students took on the various roles involved in the real process of passing laws, including serving as lawmakers, lobbyists, staffers, concerned citizens, members of the media, and even the governor.
“I wanted to learn about the policies and politics involved in our local government. I might be interested in government, especially lobbying, so I thought it might be good to learn more about it,” said Mt. Zion High School student Sage Lauper-Cook.
“The communications skills are always critical, talking to the press talking the people, superiors, and just informing people, is a really great aspect of what I’ve learned today,” said Monticello High School student Briggs Fultz. “It’s totally a beneficial educational experience, I would highly recommend it.”
After detailed discussion, debate, and impassioned testimony, the students on the committee voted to advance a student proposal involving welfare reform.
“I hope they come away with a much broader understanding of government and democracy,” said Senator Rose. “There’s the old textbook idea of a majority votes for it, the Governor signs it and it becomes law. But it’s a much more difficult process than that, it’s a much broader process than that, and it’s a much longer process than that. So hopefully they leave with a better idea of how big the process is and how many people can be involved, and I hope they become involved themselves as they get older.”