South Orangetown Central School District

Tappan Zee High School Youth and Government Club members Matt T., Katrina C. and Amy W. participated in the New York State YMCA Youth and Government State Conference, a virtual event. Katrina and Amy were selected as committee chairs and led youth delegates in discussions regarding their bills. As an attorney, Matt argued two cases before judges and was awarded “Best Attorney” for New York State District 4.

“The whole conference is a great opportunity for young adults to engage in respectful debate and to learn more about how the government actually works. Even people who have no interest in working in government or law can benefit from it, and I bet that they would enjoy it too,” said Matt, who was also selected as a state delegate to the Conference on National Affairs (CONA), a national conference of Youth and Government delegates from 33 states and Washington DC. Delegates are required to write a proposal to change a national or international policy. Proposals are then debated by delegates in committees, and the best proposals are awarded. “It is a great honor to have been chosen to attend,” he added.

This is the inaugural year for the high school’s Youth and Government Club, which is advised by social studies teacher Martin Patmos. The club’s goal is to enable the youth to be active members of their government, even if they cannot yet vote. During the school year, members prepare for the annual conference according to the branch of government they have chosen to serve in. Members of the legislative branch write and debate their own original bills and attorneys in the judicial branch write a brief and argue a case in front of a panel of student justices. Members may also serve in the press corps or as a lobbyist.

“These students have spearheaded this club with true passion,” Patmos noted. “Their desire to engage with ideas of policy and government, and learn how to make positive change is inspiring.”

Congratulations to Matt, Katrina and Amy!

Matt T. with Rockland County YMCA CEO Chuck Maze

Caption: Tappan Zee High School freshman Matt T. was presented with the award for “Best Attorney” by Chuck Maze, Rockland County YMCA CEO and President and District 4 Coordinator on May 29.