Dozens of high school students from across the 38th Senate District were selected to participate in a unique, hands-on experience in state government May 3, as part of State Sen. Sue Rezin’s first Youth Advisory Council.
“We hear it often that we must get more young people involved in the legislative process and show them the importance of public policy,” said Rezin (R-Peru). “The future of our democracy lies in their hands. That’s why I was so excited to host my first Youth Advisory Council and have students reinforce my belief that the future looks bright!”
Rezin hosted the all-day Youth Advisory Council in Springfield, talking with students from Coal City H.S., Gardner-South Wilmington H.S., LaSalle-Peru Township H.S., Morris H.S., St. Bede Academy, Streator H.S., Wilmington H.S., and Woodland H.S. about Illinois government and how the Legislature operates. She shared stories of her experiences in the Statehouse, discussed what it takes to become a legislator, and answered questions.
The group received a tour of the Capitol Building, visited the floor level of the Senate Chamber, witnessed how the General Assembly operates first-hand and up-close, and heard from other State Senators and political leaders, such as Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti. Students also met Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Students later broke into small groups, each discussing and debating issues that are currently in the news or issues that are important to them. Each small group then brought forward a policy proposal for a new state law or change in state law. Acting as a moderator, Sen. Rezin facilitated an entire group discussion and debate about each small group’s proposed legislation.
“I am really interested in politics,” said Kaytlin Converse from St. Bede Academy in Peru. “I love to debate. I love to debate about the topics of today and have a say in it, and I think that’s really the most important part.”
“I learned about several aspects of Illinois government that I didn’t know before,” said Ryleigh Christensen from Coal City High School. “I only really knew the surface of what legislators do. I didn’t know the amount of in-depth work and effort that goes into making the state operate.”
“It was nice to have a debate where someone isn’t screaming out their opinions,” said Landon Jones from Morris High School. “It’s nice to have a conversation where both sides can talk about what they want when dealing with an important issue.”
“My favorite experience was debating with other students about different issues that are being discussed in government today,” said Jena Weist from Morris High School.
“I learned a lot about how the legislative process works and the difficulties legislators face when trying to pass legislation,” said Eli Jameson from Morris High School.
“It’s so refreshing to see these young people engaged in the political process,” Sen. Rezin said. “I hope this experience energizes them even more.”
Sen. Rezin will host another Youth Advisory Council session this fall.