Youth and Government Club workshop teaches students about state government

The Youth and Government Club at Commonwealth Charter Academy held its opening conservatory event of the year in September at the Andreas Family Service Center and four other locations around Pennsylvania.

CCA's Youth and Government Club hosts its first workshop, allowing students to try their hands at legislative tracks.

The Youth and Government Club at Commonwealth Charter Academy held its opening conservatory event of the year in September at five locations around Pennsylvania.

The club, a chapter of the YMCA’s nationwide school club, allows middle and high school students to learn about the state government system and develop a voice within the state and their communities. CCA is the only cyber school member of the organization.

At the event, Stephanie Goforth, Arts and Humanities Conservatory manager and the club’s adviser, provided an introduction to what the club entails, expectations for members and an overview of the club’s culminating event — a mock legislative day at the state Capitol in April. 

After a preview of the club’s upcoming events, several professionals shared real-world legislative examples with members and illustrated the importance of the skills they will be learning through the club.

Then it was time to put all of this information into practice. Learners were grouped for workshops that would give them a taste of the club’s three branches: legislative, executive and the media.

To get a sampling of how the media operates, learners were shown a photo that was open to interpretation and given time to craft a corresponding news article with an attention-grabbing hook and headline. After writing, the learners gathered to share their stories. The creativity involved was evident.

“Everyone took it a different way — some articles were serious, some silly, some sad,” Goforth said.

An online civics game, “Executive Command,” gave learners a taste of life as president, allowing them to make decisions and report on their success to the club.

Last, the club’s president and vice president led a “constitutional challenge,” proposing a bill with an amendment and allowing learners to present arguments in favor or opposition.

“This kind of activity challenges students to get outside of their comfort zones and develop arguments, whether their stance reflects their personal beliefs or not,” Goforth said.

After participating in these workshop activities, learners got a sense of which track would fit them best, as well as an understanding of what the other tracks accomplish.

The club is relatively new, having reignited last year after years on hiatus. This year, the club’s membership has grown from six to 52. The first virtual club meeting of the school year was attended by 20 students and was led by President Quinn Broussard. This year, Goforth plans to be a hands-off adviser, administering organization and assistance when needed but allowing the club’s cabinet to take the reins and learn through experience.

“Students respond well to being led by other students," Goforth said. "It really sets the stage for their level of responsibility."

There are three cabinet roles filled: president, vice president and secretary. Now that the club has kicked off, elections will be held to find the best fits for treasurer, historian and secretary of outreach.

The next event? November’s election conventions, which will host elections for statewide cabinet positions and set the scene for the spring’s mock convention.

There are plenty of fascinating upcoming events for Youth and Government — and conservatory events as a whole. Stay tuned for more updates on these student legislators throughout the school year.

Author

Commonwealth Charter Academy

Published

September 21, 2016

Category

Learning Lab

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