Decatur County Family YMCA sends students to government conference

Mar. 21—INDIANAPOLIS — It is one thing to learn about governmental processes in government class, and it is another to experience the processes first-hand. Five Greensburg Community High School students recently participated in the Indiana YMCA's Youth and Government conference.

Established in 1965, the program is a model government conference for grades 6 to 12 students.

Students can participate in a mock version of the Indiana State Senate, Indiana House of Representatives, or Indiana Supreme Court. The program enhances students' debate, critical thinking, and public speaking skills, as well as governmental processes and legislation knowledge.

Students in the Senate and House of Representatives develop an idea for a bill, which they write and research themselves. Then, students from across the state of Indiana join at the Indiana State House in Indianapolis to debate their bills before their peers.

Students follow Robert's Rules of Order, the standard in parliamentary procedure, and can have their bills signed into "law" by the Youth Governor.

Students in the Supreme Court serve as both attorneys and justices, arguing two or more real cases that have taken place in the actual Indiana Supreme Court. Students research each case and seek to decide on its outcome based on the evidence provided.

Declan Bruns, Brenley Jameson, Carmin Ripperger, Charlie Stauffacher, and Tyler Williams represented the Decatur County Family YMCA at the conference. Bruns and Ripperger served as youth Representatives, Stauffacher and Williams served as youth Senators, and Jameson served as a youth justice/attorney.

Both Stauffacher's and Williams's bills passed in the Senate.

Stauffacher's bill concerned access to rural mental health resources. Williams's bill advocated for a reflective tape for law enforcement vehicles, and Bruns and Ripperger's collaborative bill sought to end shaming around school lunches.

"Our group of students has been working on their bills and cases since October of last year. Each student worked diligently to prepare for the conference, as evident by their performance in the conference," said Sam Miller, program advisor.

In addition to the debate sectors of the conference, students can run for appointed offices, including Youth Governor, Youth Lt. Governor, Youth Committee Chairs, and Youth Speaker of the House.

Both Stauffacher and Williams served as Committee Co-Chairs for the Senate Transportation Committee. Additionally, Stauffacher will serve as the Youth Lt. Governor for the 2025 conference alongside Shu Jing Zheng of Hobart.

Stauffacher's appointment will make him the third Lt. Governor from the Decatur County Family YMCA in just five years.

Diane Hart-Dawson, CEO of the Decatur County Family YMCA noted, "It is great to see local high school students participate in this area of civil engagement. I have had the privilege of watching our participants for the last several years. I am always impressed by the professional way in which they present themselves and the leadership skills they display. It is also a testament to the hard work of our students that they have been appointed to the Lt. Governor position so often."

Those interested in the Youth and Government program or any other youth or teen programs at the Decatur County Family YMCA should contact Joe Poteet, the Youth Development Director at 812- 663-9622. — Information provided