Youth Legislature in Washington is designed to meet the extracurricular interests of students who would like the opportunity to participate in politics and public speaking. The main goal of Youth Legislature is to help students develop their abilities in the types of leadership, critical thinking skills, and public speaking that will help them to become active participants in our modern democratic society.
Students debate issues, sometimes meet with municipal and state elected officials, draft legislation, conduct hearings using parliamentary procedure, and learn to speak publicly and persuasively. In addition to the main roles of Senators and Representatives, students may also choose roles as lobbyists, who may speak on behalf of bills, or reporters, who will work on the newspaper published daily during the state session.
The Youth Legislature year begins in mid-October as students meet, form the delegation, and begin to discuss ideas for bills. In November and December and students continue to draft and refine their ideas for bills. There is a day-long district event in January at which kids learn about what is required for the various roles within the program and learn how to debate bills using parliamentary procedure. A second day-long district event in February offers many students their first opportunity to stand up in front of a large group and argue for their bills. By the end of February, all bills will have been completed, lobbyists will have written position papers, and reporters will have written their news articles as all students prepare for the year’s main event in Olympia. In May, the YMCA Youth Legislature convenes at the state capital in Olympia. For four days students will play a role they have chosen, serving as Senator, Representative, Lobbyist, Reporter, in the halls of the state legislature.
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In addition to the district and state events (usually a Saturday in early January, a Saturday in early February, and Wednesday through Saturday early in May) the SAAS delegation meets once a week during lunch from October through April.
SAAS Youth Leg students elected to the top five statewide offices:
Ben Gode '18 - Speaker of the House
Jade Chowning '15 - Governor
Julia Delaney '15 - Secretary of State
Jackson Gode '14 - Secretary of State
Nithya Menon '12 - Secretary of State
Claire Hoover '11 - Secretary of State
Ben Rubinfeld '03 - Governor