Rezin’s Youth Advisory Council showcases state government to local high schoolers

Dozens of high school students from across State Sen. Sue Rezin’s 38th Senate District traveled south to Springfield May 1 to participate in her Youth Advisory Council. 

Rezin’s bi-annual Youth Advisory Council gives student a unique, hands-on, and up-close experience in state government. 

“This is an opportunity for those interested in public policy and government to see the legislative process up close,” Rezin said. “Their classroom for the day was the Capitol. It’s critical our young people are engaged in public policy because we need good leaders for our future. Whether it’s local, state, or federal government, the future of our communities will depend on those who are in school now.” 

Rezin hosted the all-day Youth Advisory Council in both the Capitol and the Stratton Building next to the Capitol, talking with high school students from Hall High School, LaSalle-Peru Township High School, Ottawa Township High School, Redd-Custer High School, Serena High School, Streator Township High School, Coal City High School, and Wilmington High School 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, talked about why public policy is important, and answered questions. 

“I’ve always been interested in politics and how to make the world a better place,” Grace McCormick, from LaSalle-Peru High School said. “What I learned from this Youth Advisory Council is that doing what is best for the most amount of people is the most important – not necessarily about your own interests.” 

“One of the biggest things I learned today is you can’t always get what you want, and that compromise is important,” Paige Sheppard, from LaSalle-Peru High School said. “It’s really important to listen to what other people have to say and see what you can do to create compromise.” 

“I really enjoyed learning how bills are debated and how they become law,” Keegan Magle, from Ottawa High School said. “I learned a lot about what goes on in Springfield, and it was really interesting.” 

“This is the fifth time I attended Sen. Rezin’s Youth Advisory Council,” Emma Harris, from Streator High School said. “I am interested in politics and how lawmakers make decisions. I enjoy coming to the Capitol because they talk us through the actual voting process, and we get to hear positions from lawmakers.” 

“I try to keep updated on politics,” Samuel Higgins, from Wilmington High School said. “This experience is enjoyable because I can hear from other students on what they think about some issues. I may not have the same opinions as others, so it’s interesting to get the perspective from other people my age about what they think.” 

The students also toured the Capitol and spent time on the Senate floor. They also heard from State Sen. Tom Rooney, who is also currently a high school economics teacher, as well as lobbyists Abby Walsh and Jim Fletcher. 

The students, who were selected by their teachers and principals to participate, later worked in small groups to propose mock legislation, and then discussed and debated their proposals with the entire group. Sen. Rezin moderated the debate, asking the students questions about their proposals. 

“This is truly my favorite event of the year,” Rezin said. “It is inspiring to see the students’ energy, passion, and drive on issues that matter to them, and to see them soak up everything they heard and saw throughout the day. If anyone doubts our young people are not engaged in public policy, this Youth Advisory Council is a refreshing reminder our young people do care, and they want to help make the future better.” 

Sen. Rezin will host another Youth Advisory Council session this fall in the 38th Senate District. Rezin started her Youth Advisory Council in 2016.

Wilmington H.S.: Sam Higgins, Lexi Orr, Sen. Rezin, Kassidy Hansen, Claire Rink

Streator H.S.: Brooke Melvin, Juden Koncor, Sen. Rezin, Emma Harris, Katelyn Coons

Serena H.S. Devin Borchsenius, Sen. Rezin, Matt Svoboda

Reed Custer H.S.: T.J. Sforza, Casey Cromp, Sen. Rezin, Abbi Haley

Ottawa H.S.: Grace McGettigan, Regan O’Fallon, Owen Heimsoth, Jacob Ovanic, Sen. Rezin, Hannah Roalson, Leah Klatt, and Keegan Nagle.

LaSalle-Peru H.S.: Paige Sheppard, Sen. Rezin, Grace McCormick

Hall H.S.: Brandon DeJong, Sen. Rezin, John Moore

Coal City H.S.: Ryleigh Christensen, Sen. Rezin

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