South Orangetown Central School District

Last Sunday, Tappan Zee High School’s Youth and Government Club hosted more than 100 delegates from Pearl River, Nyack, North Rockland, Middletown and White Plains for the annual Alliance of the New York State YMCAs District Four Youth and Government Conference.

YMCA Youth and Government is an experiential learning program in which high school students participate in a model state government, culminating with a three-day conference in Albany where they debate original bills in the New York State Assembly and Legislature.

The half-day district conference is designed to help members prepare for the statewide event. Members of the YAG Legislative branch debated their bills, while Judicial branch members reviewed briefs and presented their oral arguments. “It was amazing to hear our students present and debate their bills,” noted Interim Superintendent Ileana Eckert, who serves on the Rockland County YMCA Board of Directors.

Members of the Press Corps moderated a panel interview with Supreme Court Justice Linda Christopher, New York State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, former New York State Senator Elijah Reichlen-Melnick, Town of Orangetown Supervisor Teresa Kenny and former Town of Ramapo Clerk Brian Sampson.

“The biggest takeaway from the district conference is that it enables members to connect with peers and find support that they can tap into when we get to Albany,” said SOMS YAG Club Co-President Meline K.

TZHS YAG Club Co-President, Matt T. added, “It’s also an important opportunity for younger members to actively participate in a way that they won’t have at the state conference. We encourage them to get out there and push themselves.”

Ailish M., the TZHS YAG Club Judicial Lead, noted that the district conference offers members a glimpse of what’s possible through YAG. “It gives freshmen and new members a sneak peek of leadership positions and what they’re like. They came away inspired.”

In addition to their roles at TZHS, Matt, Meline and Ailish were elected by peers across New York State to leadership positions for this year’s state conference. Matt and Meline are each serving a second consecutive year as Secretary of State and Editor-in-Chief of the Press Corps, respectively. Ailish was elected to the role of New York State Principal Justice.

Photo credit: Rockland County YMCA