Dozens of high school students from across the 38th Senate District participated in a unique, hands-on experience in state government May 2 in Springfield, as part of State Sen. Sue Rezin’s Youth Advisory Council.
“The future of our state and country depends on those who are in school now,” Rezin said. “We must get young people more involved in the legislative process and show them the importance of public policy. That’s why I was so excited to host my Youth Advisory Council. These students took initiative, were inquisitive, and full of energy. It’s refreshing to see so many students engaged in the political process and want to be leaders so they can make their communities, this state, and our country even better.”
Rezin hosted the all-day Youth Advisory Council, talking with high school students from Coal City High School, LaSalle-Peru, Morris, St. Bede Academy, Streator, Wilmington, Woodland, Hall, and Ottawa 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, why public policy is important, and answered questions.
The students visited the Capitol and spent time on Senate floor. They also heard from a lobbyist, other State Senators, and political leaders. Students also met Gov. Bruce Rauner and spoke to him for about 20 minutes in his capitol office.
The students, who were selected by their teachers to participate, later conducted a mock bill discussion and hearing on issues important to them.
“I am looking at possibly going into law or government,” said Luke Wamoff from St. Bede Academy. “So, this is helping me guide my path.”
“I gained debating skills and how to present an argument from this experience,” said John Moore from Hall H.S. “It was great to meet other students who have an interest in politics.”
“I participated because I was interested in learning how things work in Springfield,” said Brandon DeJong from Hall H.S. “I really enjoyed the debate. Hearing all the different points of view was interesting because it was things I never thought of before.”
“I learned how difficult it can be to get a law passed in Illinois,” said Ryleigh Christensen, from Coal City H.S. “How much research there is and how you have to have details planned out before it can be presented to a Committee.”
“I am interested in politics and find social studies interesting,” said Sam Higgins from Wilmington H.S. “This experience has helped me improve my public speaking.”
“This gave me good insight into the politics of Illinois, and it was nice to meet new people,” said Alex Rink from Wilmington H.S. “I learned the bill making process is very difficult. It takes a lot more time than people think.”
“I learned how it can take a really long time for a bill to work its way through the legislature,” said Landon Jones from Morris Community H.S. “I plan to become a teacher in social studies and government so this experience helps.”
Sen. Rezin will host another Youth Advisory Council session this fall in the 38th Senate District.