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Club of the Month: Model General Assembly

Photo by Rachel Finley/SENTRY

Photo by Rachel Finley/SENTRY

Emily Burke, Staff Reporter

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Many students think that they are too young to make a difference in their communities or that they do not have any real opportunities to speak their minds on issues that are important to them. However, Model General Assembly offers students a chance to do just that. The club has been meeting every other Monday since September in order to prepare to participate in a Model General Assembly session in Richmond in the spring. At this Model General Assembly session, students from all over Virginia gather in the state’s capitol and General Assembly Building for a weekend of debating, learning and making friends from every part of the state. Students get the opportunity to write their own bills to solve issues they are passionate about, and defend their bills in speeches before their peers. For those who may shy away from public speaking, there are plenty of other jobs available for students in MGA. Participants who serve as reporters document the weekend, and lobbyists speak to senators and delegates individually to convince them to support or oppose a bill.

Juniors in MGA are eligible to run for one of the elected positions, including Attorney General, House Speaker, House Speaker pro tempore, Lieutenant Governor, Senate President pro tempore and Youth Governor, which is the highest position at MGA. Junior Sissy Davis participated in MGA last year as a lobbyist, and plans to run for office at this year’s April conference.

“I love that MGA brings together kids from all over the state and allows them to take an inside look at issues that are important to them. It really sheds light on the regional differences in Virginia and is incredibly interesting,” said Davis.

Not only does MGA give students an introduction to Virginia’s legislative process, but it also provides a competitive yet supportive setting in which students from all over the state can get to know each other during downtime and the Youth Governor’s Ball.

One important result of the interaction between students from different regions of Virginia is that students get exposed to issues they may never have known were issues, like the proper disposal of oyster shells or restrictions on when tractors may be driven on public roads. MGA empowers students by giving them the chance to educate their peers about issues that are important to them and their communities. In addition, MGA is a unique opportunity for students to get their voices heard and their opinions expressed because real Virginia General Assembly delegates attend to give speeches and advise students on how to effectively present their bills.

“I enjoy how it is a productive outlet for me to take action in the politics of my state,” said Davis.

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Club of the Month: Model General Assembly