Middletown, NJ – Fifty-one students from 11 Monmouth County schools represented The Community YMCA and joined 500 of their peers from New Jersey at the annual YMCA Youth & Government Conference, held April 8 through April 10 at the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton.
Students in The Community YMCA’s program received top honors, including this year’s Outstanding Delegation award. In addition, the efforts of The Community Y’s students were honored individually. Alicia Lai of Holmdel High School was named Outstanding Press Delegate and was given the special accolade of being invited to participate in the prestigious Conference on National Affairs. Shannon Pace of Red Bank Regional High School was recognized as Outstanding Lobbyist. Brian Gilbride of Thompson Middle School, received the Outstanding First Year Delegate Award for the middle school component of the program, the Junior Legislators. Krissy Antone, Bayshore Middle School, and Caitlin Loh, Thompson Middle School, were each awarded the title of Outstanding Stateperson for the Junior Legislator Program.
The annual conference is part of the YMCA’s Youth & Government program, designed to expose middle and high school students from New Jersey to the inner workings of our state legislature. The weekend long conference takes place each year at the New Jersey Statehouse, where students are given the opportunity to simulate the NJ senate and assembly within the actual building where our representatives create the laws and codes that govern us. Locally, the program is part of The Community YMCA’s civic engagement initiative, to teach teens about government and give them the opportunity to take an active role in strengthening their community.
Prior to the conference, student legislators are required to write bills on any topic of their choosing that they will then debate with their peers and try to pass into law upon their arrival at the Statehouse. This year, bills included issues ranging from public sector unions’ pensions and pay reform to the legalization of online gambling. Students also had the opportunity to participate in other roles within our government, such as New Jersey Supreme Court justices, lobbyists and political press journalists.
“We are extremely proud of the remarkable performance of all 51 of the Y’s student delegates,” said Community YMCA program advisor, Jackie Normyle. “Each student walked away from the conference with a deeper understanding of the essential functions of our state government and the democratic political process as a whole.”
Students representing this year’s Community YMCA delegation were from the following schools: Holmdel High School, Middletown South High School, Red Bank Catholic High School, Red Bank Regional High School, Biotechnology High School, MAST (Marine Academy of Science & Technology), Bayshore Middle School, Shrewsbury Borough School, Thompson Middle School, Henry Hudson Regional School and Thorne Middle School.