Plummer Welcomes High School Students to the Capitol

On a typical session day, the sounds of Illinois State Capitol committee rooms are filled with the voices of lawmakers and other stakeholders debating the merits of legislation. On Tuesday, March 12th, those voices came from high school students who had traveled to the Capitol to take on the legislative process, as part of State Senator Jason Plummer’s (R-Edwardsville) Youth Advisory Council program.

“This is a chance for students to see the legislative process up close, take part in the act of crafting and passing legislation, and learn that they can have a hand in making positive changes for their community and their state,” said Senator Plummer. “For me, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the issues that young people in my district are passionate about.”

Plummer’s YAC program invites high school students from the 55th District to learn more about government through two biannual meetings, once during the fall semester in the district, and then in the spring at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. This year around 20 schools and over 60 students participated in the program.

“I learned a lot about leadership and voicing everything that you believe in,” said Highland High School student Sophia Himsel. “It’s just a really unique experience, I’ve never been able to do anything like this within my high school or middle school career.”

During the spring meeting held on March 12th, students toured the Capitol complex and heard from lawmakers and other professionals involved in the legislative process. During the afternoon, the students held a mock committee hearing to discuss and debate a mock bill they had proposed at their fall meeting. Their proposal focused on creating a program where high school students could be compensated to tutor elementary students.

“It’s definitely been really exciting, it’s been really fun, talking with other students, and kind of pretending to be a Senator,” said Richland County High School student Willow Conn. “It’s just a really great experience to learn more about everyone here.”

“It’s teaching me how I can work with a group better and more effectively, and how to present an argument in a more professional manner than just arguing with a friend or a parent,” Centralia High School student Ryder Koger. “It’s taught me a lot about how I can be more involved and how I can make a change as well.”

During the mock committee hearing, students took on the roles of lawmakers, lobbyists, concerned citizens, and even the Governor. After lengthy debate and discussion, the students voted to advance their mock legislation.

“It’s always great to see and hear these students talk about the finer points of legislation and important issues, and to show how knowledgeable and engaged they are in politics,” said Plummer. “My hope is this program not only helps students grow to become more active and engaged citizens, but that it also helps develop the next generation of local and national leaders.”

Senator Plummer’s YAC program is an annual event open to high school students in the 55th Senate District. He encourages interested students to ask their teachers and/or principals about taking part. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators are always welcome to contact Senator Plummer’s offices in Vandalia and Springfield for more information.

Jason Plummer

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