• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCHS named ‘Delegation of Excellence’ at KYA

A DELEGATION OF STUDENTS represented Woodford County High School at the Kentucky Youth Assembly in Louisville recently. Pictured are student-delegates, front, from left, Tony Brock, Abigail Mortell, Tessa Brengelman, Regan Martin and Reagan Lynn; second row, Sarah Potts, Christine Slover and Erin Lawson; third row, Sophie Edelen, Abigail Renner and Emily Melcher; fourth row, Ginny Hallman, Kristen Taylor and Carter Smith; fifth row, Parker Raybourne, Emily DeBold, Caleigh Evans and Logan Curtis; with Adie Preston and Abigail Cheek on stairs. Not pictured are Allison Miller, Rachel Vascessenno, Carson Mullins, Gloria Mullins, Josh Finley, J.B. Hudson, Zia Luchtefeld and Turner Reynolds. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

A delegation of 28 students from Woodford County High School learned how the legislative process works while participating in the recent Kentucky Youth Assembly in Louisville. KYA student-delegates proposed bills dealing with real issues faced by lawmakers in Kentucky. They also offered their ideas and opinions on proposed legislation in a real-world situation. “It’s just reinforcing what you learn in school by giving you a real-life situation to apply all of that knowledge,” said Abigail Mortell, a WCHS freshman. Being a part of the KYA judicial team was an opportunity for WCHS senior Reagan Lynn to follow her delegation’s bill through the legislative process. She also played a crucial role in making sure her delegation’s bill – requiring all rape kits to be tested – passed constitutional muster. Reagan received an Outstanding Delegate Award while being a part of a KYA judicial team that argued cases in front of practicing attorneys in an actual district courtroom. Abigail said she and the other premiere delegates who authored the rape kit testing bill – Tony Brock, Erin Lawson and Allison Miller – were able to get other delegates to support their legislation while showing how to cover the costs of enacting their bill. “So nobody saw any flaws in why it couldn’t be possible,” she said. Meanwhile, Parker Raybourne, Christine Slover and Emily Melcher were unsuccessful in garnering support for their bill, which proposed putting a bounty program in place to control the coyote population in Kentucky. “They saw coyotes as their puppy dog at home,” said Emily, a WCHS junior, “and in reality they cause major damage” to Kentucky’s agricultural economy. “They didn’t understand that this is an actual problem in our state,” added Parker, a WCHS sophomore. While they were unsuccessful in getting legislative support for their proposed law, Emily said she learned a lot being a part of the legislative process. “You see how much your voice matters,” explained Christine, a sophomore. “…They count everyone. So it definitely matters if you vote for or against a bill.” Being a lobbyist during this year’s Kentucky Youth Assembly was an opportunity for WCHS sophomore Logan Curtis to see the inner-workings of the legislative process. He enjoyed the experience of representing the interests of three different clients at KYA. “You feel very powerful, and people give you a lot of respect because they know you’ve put a lot of research into all of the issues,” said Logan. He said serving as a lobbyist in a mock legislative session showed him the power those individuals wield in government. “They’re educating our politicians on the decisions that they make, which can either be a good or bad thing,” Logan said. Even though he does not anticipate being involved in politics or getting a job in government, Parker described KYA as an opportunity for him and other students to learn valuable skills, which will help them succeed in any walk of life. “No matter what you do,” added Emily, “politics will affect you.” Prior to last year, WCHS had not sent a delegation of students to KYA for several years. So getting a bill passed, and being named a “Delegation of Excellence,” were huge accomplishments at this year’s Kentucky Youth Assembly. WCHS social studies teacher Sioux Finney said some of her former students at Woodford County Middle School urged her to give them and other high school students an opportunity to participate in KYA again. She said their desire to form a student-delegation representing WCHS illustrates the meaningful experiences that students receive at KYA. “It’s an experience you can’t imagine happening any other place,” said Finney. KYA is a three-day learning program of the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association that allows middle and high school students to participate in a model state government.

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