YAG in Real Life

June 1, 2023

The Springfield Delegation in Harrisburg. Taken by Mr. Taylor.

Mid-April heralds the culminating conference for the STHS chapter of Youth and Government in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capitol.

The Youth and Government conference mimics the government on the state level with all branches. Students even work in state wide positions which means that the conference includes having a youth governor, committee chairs, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. Working in state wide positions were Kate Matthews, junior, and Isaac Darga, freshman, as committee chairs, and Camryn Licolli, 2024, as a member of the governor’s admin. In both bodies of legislation, the members are split into two groups, blue for more experienced members and gold for mainly freshman. In the Senate, there are two political parties, the Duran and Penn party. Grace Dailey, 2024, worked as the Blue Penn whip, and Serena Choi worked as Gold Duran party leader.

Spartans in Harrisburg

Four students participated in other branches, Cam Licolli on the governor’s admin, and Eli Turner, Leah Brown, and Brooks Wright all worked on the press branch taking pictures. 

However, the majority of the conference for the Springfield Delegation was spent debating and passing bills with many other schools across the State. Only 12 bills in total were passed by both legislative bodies and signed by the governor and five of those bills were from Springfield. This is especially remarkable considering that Springfield made up 42% of the bills passed, but only 6% of the voting membership across multiple schools. Those who were successful in passing their bills were Serena Choi, myself, Anya Geynisman, Gabby Greene, Ashley Jenkins, Jordan Kempner, Madeleine Lodge, and Kate Matthews.

Gabby Greene was also named Blue Senate Outstanding Senator. Additionally Gabby Greene and Kate Matthews were selected as delegates to Conference on National Affairs (CONA).

Mr. Taylor and the outgoing presidents, Gabby Greene and Will Horn, are so proud of their accomplishments this school year, and following the election of their new officers, the members of YAG are looking forward to another great year. 


Legislation is such a big part of the club as much of the year is spent writing and editing bills and the greatest proportion of the conference is spent debating bills. Students are encouraged to write a bill on anything they’d like, which means that a lot of the legislation written were on topics that the individual was specifically passionate about. 

Two bills, if they were passed in the real Pennsylvania legislature, would have a major impact on our school. 

World Language Legislation

Isaac Darga’s bill mandated that every Pennsylvania high school student take two years of a foreign language. He wrote this bill because at the time he “was taking Spanish and [his class was] discussing the merits of [speaking a] foreign language.” Darga realized the privilege that was being offered to him by learning another language and realized that he wanted this “to be the norm for the entirety of Pennsylvania.” 

The president of the World Language club, Ethan Jiang, similarly said that learning a language is “a great way to enable students to learn about the culture and traditions of other countries and become more open-minded, a quality he finds “indispensable.” In his travels to Mexico, he found that his “ability to communicate” with the local people made the “experience unlike any other.”

Senora Cohen, a member of the World Language Department, shares that she wishes “language was mandated every year of high school” as she views it an invaluable skill. However, language is impossible to mandate for all students for all four years of high school because students with individualized education plans (IEPs) would have to be exempt. 

Gifted Bill Education

Gabby Greene’s bill worked on restructuring the gifted education program. As someone who went through the gifted program at our school and has researched how it functions in other districts, Greene recognized many concerns. 

For one, Pennsylvania law only mandates that “the Bureau of Special Education (BSE) monitor at least ten school districts in the state to ensure that they are complying with state gifted education regulations” each year. However, this majorly overlooks many of the school districts in our state and in her legislation, Greene addresses that by mandating that “100 school districts are monitored a year” so that over a period of five years, all school districts in Pennsylvania have had their gifted programs checked. 

On an individual school level, all teachers, under Greene’s new legislation, would have to receive specific certification in order to teach gifted students, a requirement where one currently does not exist. 

In her legislation, she also addressed many foundational issues with Pennsylvania’s handling of gifted education and in result, produced one of the most thorough and complex pieces of legislation that was seen throughout the entire conference. 

Michaela Kelly, 2025, giving a speech on the House Floor. Taken by Ayla DiBattista.

In our particular school district, as Mrs. Barbone, a school counselor, reports that this legislation “would have minimal effects on the high school” because of the way we format gifted education. At the high school, a student can choose to pause their GIEP (Gifted Individualized education Plan) freshman year but can unpause it at any time to participate in an internship or independent study before junior year or for some other enrichment activity.

In other schools, gifted education is very different as students are “pulled out of their classes” as part of the program and participate in different activities. At these schools, this legislation would have a bigger effect. 


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