Dozens of high school students from across State Sen. Neil Anderson’s 36th Senate District participated in a unique, hands-on experience in state government May 3 in Springfield.
Nearly 30 students spent the day in and around the Capitol as part of Anderson’s bi-annual Youth Advisory Council.
“It’s really cool to see the passion these students have for public policy,” Anderson said. “So to give these students an opportunity to learn and witness the legislative process in a real way, experiencing it right in front of them in the Senate and throughout the halls of the Capitol, that’s what it’s all about. These students are passionate about issues, asked great questions, and are incredibly bright. There is no doubt in my mind our future is in good hands.”
Anderson hosted the all-day Youth Advisory Council, talking with students from East Moline Christian School, Erie High School, Morrison High School, Riverdale High School in Port Byron, Rock Island High School, Newman Catholic High School in Sterling, and United Township High School in East Moline about Illinois government and how the legislature operates. He shared stories of his experiences in the Statehouse, discussed what it takes to become a legislator, and answered questions.
The group also toured of the Capitol, visited the floor level of the Senate Chamber, witnessed how the General Assembly operates first-hand and up-close, and heard from lobbyists and other lawmakers such as State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) and State Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago).
The students, who were selected by their teachers and principals, later discussed and debated mock legislation, that being legalizing marijuana. Each student played a role in the debate, whether as a lawmaker, proponent, opponent, or lobbyist.
“I like politics, and I like current events, so this was right up my alley,” David Swegle, from Newman Catholic H.S. said. “We learned how to frame a debate and how to see the other side of an argument.”
“I really enjoy coming to the Capitol and learning about all the policies that go into Illinois,” Emily Chezum, from East Moline Christian School said. “I want to get more involved now after coming to these Youth Advisory Councils, not just in knowing what is going on, but maybe becoming a public servant myself. I’m really curious about everything.”
“I am very curious in about how everything happens in Springfield, and I am interested in a career in politics,” MarCeisha Jackson, from Rock Island H.S. said. “So, this experience was a good head start to see what I’m going to get myself into.”
“Politics is something I have always been interested in,” Peyton Ruff, from Erie High School said. “The mock hearings are my favorite parts of the Youth Advisory Council. This is something we don’t have at school. I enjoy those educated debates.”
“I enjoyed the process of the mock hearing and trying to pass a bill,” Rielly Dolan, from Morrison H.S. said. “This is a one-of-a kind experience you won’t get anywhere else.”
Sen. Anderson will host another Youth Advisory Council this fall in the 36th Senate District. Anderson started his Youth Advisory Council in 2016.
East Moline Christian School: Kevin O’Melia, Megan Kizer, Sen. Anderson, Emily Chezum, Ashley Hyatt
Erie H.S.: Ana Pearl, Sen. Anderson, Peyton Ruff
Morrison H.S.: Grant Abell, Isaac Damhoff, Kaleb McCoy, Sen. Anderson, Reilly Donlan, Kaylee Shetler, Bailey Smith
Newman Catholic: Catalina Desmond, Baily Boesen, Brad Fritts, Sen. Anderson, David Swegle, Patrick Powers, Michael Frank
Riverdale H.S.: Jailyn Farris, Sadie Johnson, Aleck Reece, Sen. Anderson, Reece Hyrkas, Andrew Roberts
Rock Island H.S.: Leslie Perez, Aaliyah Gosney, Sen. Anderson, MarCeisha Jackson
United Township H.S.: Sen. Anderson, Gerald Lockhart