WCMS earns Delegation of Excellence, other KYA awards
Woodford County Middle School students continued their tradition of success at the Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA) on Nov. 30, and Dec. 1 and 2 in Louisville and Frankfort. Not only were the 19 WCMS students able to bring home a Delegation of Excellence award for a fifth consecutive year, two teams of eighth-grade students (competing at the varsity level) had their commonwealth bills signed into law by the KYA governor. “That’s an incredible accomplishment,” said WCMS social studies teacher and KYA advisor Tyler Murphy. He was told only three Commonwealth Bills advanced out of the “Hotel” House and Senate – and WCMS students wrote two of those bills. A bill authored by WCMS students Julia Hill, Aidan Lynn and Emelia Sprinkle would require restaurants in Kentucky to bring handheld credit card machines to customers like European countries do. The idea for legislation to limit credit card theft originated with Emelia’s family trip to London last summer. “It’s one idea that we developed in a classroom, but it went way much further than we believed that it would,” she said. A bill authored by WCMS students Tori Cavins, Will Dowdell, Elizabeth Edwards and Nate Wells would require an ambulance at all Kentucky high school sporting events for a quicker response time when an injury occurs. The motivation for this bill came about when a player on Dunbar High School’s basketball team was injured at a game. “And we all play sports here so it’s really important to us,” said Tori. Sam Dowdell, the only sixth-grader representing WCMS at KYA, earned an Outstanding Delegate award while getting to sponsor his own Bluegrass Bill. It was defeated by a single vote at the Capital Annex in Frankfort after he presented his proposed legislation to lower the age for a driver’s permit to 15 years old in Kentucky. “He researched the bill. He made his speech. He presented the bill and did everything (leading up the KYA conference) all by himself,” said Murphy. Sam said he was determined to now allow nervousness to limit his self-confidence when he presented his bill. And he viewed his proposed legislation as a way to give a young driver valuable experience behind the wheel with guidance from an adult in the passenger seat. Emelia, a WCMS eighth-grader, earned an Outstanding Speaker award based on nominations from other KYA advisors and staff. She was named an Outstanding Delegate last year and continues to learn from her KYA experiences. “It’s not like I’m going to go into government or something,” said Emelia, 13, “but it’s just a good experience to have that sense of professionalism at an early age. “...It’s more about how you talk to people and how you can politely disagree and just learning how to do that.” 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 so they can become more familiar with the legislative process. Murphy said KYA helps his students understand “how a bill becomes a law. How it goes to committee and then it goes to the House and the Senate, and then it has to be signed by the governor. “There are also the interpersonal skills of debate and argumentation … And (being given opportunities to) speak in front of their peers is an incredible learning experience for them too.” In addition to its individual and team awards, the delegation of students from WCMS was recognized for being at the Honor Level in terms of service hours and participation in KYA and the Kentucky United Nations Assembly (KUNA). Students representing WCMS at YMCA Youth programs do two service projects annually, according to Murphy. He said one service project involves his students giving donated toys to less-fortunate kids through a partnership with the Housing Authority of Versailles.