• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCMS sends delegation to Kentucky Youth Assembly

A delegation of 16 students from Woodford County Middle School got to participate in the legislative process during a Kentucky Youth Assembly on Dec. 15, 16 and 17. WCMS was once again named a Delegation of Excellence, with Emelia Sprinkle being named an Outstanding Delegate for going "above and beyond" what was required, and Eliza Beach being named an Outstanding Speaker - an incredible feat for a sixth-grader. "I know that I can make places better and things better just by saying what I've learned," said Eliza of being a student-delegate at KYA. Participating in the legislative process while seated in the state House and Senate chambers in Frankfort was a great experience for all of his students, according to WCMS social studies teacher Tyler Murphy. Emelia, 12, described her KYA experience as "eye-opening." "It's one thing to read about something or learn about something in a classroom," said Murphy, "it's another thing entirely to actually experience it." His students also met House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, and WCMS eighth-grader Lucas Jones had the opportunity to lead the full Senate as committee chair. The KYA experience began with WCMS students formulating ideas to address problems in their state and then come up with solutions. "My main role . is to ask the right questions so that they can find the information," explained Murphy. A Bluegrass Bill authored by WCMS students Eliza Beach, Anamei Walli, Will Dowdell and Nate Wells focused on the preservation of green space around urban areas of Kentucky - a relevant issue facing residents of Woodford County as residential neighborhoods encroach on horse farms. Their bill advanced to the House in Frankfort, where it was defeated by a close vote. "I was really frustrated," acknowledged Eliza, "when our bill was really close to being passed through the House to go to the Senate," but the 11-year-old was pleased to just have the opportunity to argue her bill's merits in Frankfort. A Commonwealth Bill authored by WCMS students Lisa Komprs, Willa Michel and Emelia Sprinkle sought to enact a law to establish a student technology accessibility program in Kentucky schools to ensure low-income households had wi-fi and Internet access. The One-to-One initiative, which provides a computer tablet to middle and high school students in Woodford County schools, inspired the authors to write the bill. It did not advance to the House floor. "It's all about planting the seed," said Murphy of KYA. "We may have a student who today may not even have entertained the idea of going into public service or politics. But because of this experience . that may be something that ignites a fire in them." Murphy would like to take a larger delegation to KYA, but said some students are unable to put in the necessary time to prepare for KYA and others cannot afford the cost of going. "We don't have enough numbers to do fundraisers and we don't have any community sponsors or anything so it's all self-funded (by families) essentially," Murphy explained. He encourages anyone interested in sponsoring KYA to do so, which would allow more WCMS students o participate next year. KYA, a three-day experiential learning program offered by the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association, gives middle and high school students an opportunity to serve in a model state government.

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