Twenty-three students from the Washington-Liberty HS Model General Assembly (MGA) Club (a YMCA-sponsored youth in government club) continued to participate in extracurricular activities after they left campus due to COVID-19. Instead of in-person sessions at the Capital in Richmond, VA. this spring, the 2020 Model General Assembly was entirely virtual.
The student takeover of VA legislation allowed student “Senators”, “Delegates”, “Lobbyists”, and “Reporters” to participate in virtual meetings for their debates. This processes closely resembled those that would traditionally take place including; topical committee hearings, House debate of bills, cross over sessions, Senate debate of bills, legislative leadership elections, and the Youth Governor’s veto or approval of final bills. Along with more than 200 students statewide, W-L’s delegation presented, debated, and compromised on bills that covered topics ranging from mental health workers’ compensation to civil forfeiture. The lobbyists from W-L found creative solutions to the problems of physical separation and still were able to discuss bills with the Youth Governor. The lobbyists worked with bill patrons to amend and pass the bills they lobbied for. For the first time in club history, W-L MGA also had a student, Daniel Nadel, campaign for Youth Governor. Though he did not win, Daniel enhanced W-L’s state-wide reputation as a school with a powerful political conscience.
The entire delegation from W-L HS proudly represented their school superbly and at the end of the conference several were recognized as some of the finest debaters. Lobbyist Julia Van Lare, Lobbyist Emery Parker, Delegate Abigail Presson, and Senator Carsten Schoer were selected to participate in this year’s Conference on National Affairs (CONA). The invite to attend CONA is a prestigious selection and the Virginia YMCA only asks roughly two dozen students statewide to represent the Commonwealth at the national meeting. The national meeting is held annually in Black Mountain, NC. every summer, but this year participants will attend virtually.
W-L MGA club student participants included: Talley Schroeder, Carsten Schoer, Abby Presson, Daniel Nadel, Reina Cooper, Caroline Gage, Anika Bahl, Logan Rowland, Valeria Lopez Altamirano, Payton Broadwell, Julia Van Lare, Emery Parker, Peyton Fern, Ainsley McCabe, Laura Rapazo, Thomas Sharpe, Leah Karush, Noah Porter, Nicholas Mestre, Jake Dertke, Abel Geleta, and Catherine Ledesma-Aquino.