What’s up with YAG?

Olivia Perfetti, Senior Reporter

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While you were (probably) sleeping on Saturday

Obama’s Youth and Government Club members were already on the bus to Somerset Area High School, which left school at 6:45 AM.

Somerset High was hosting the “Pre-Legislative session”, the second out of three conventions that YAG members attend each year. “Pre-Ledge” is basically a time for YAG clubs all throughout Western Pennsylvania to get together and prepare for the third and final convention of the year, called “Model,” which takes place in Harrisburg this April.

There was a lot going on at this year’s Pre-Ledge. There were separate workshops held for first-year legislators,  the press corps, committee chairs, the administration, and the judicial sector. The committee chairs were trained on how to lead bill debate sessions in committee. The press corps wrote and distributed several articles as practice for the reporting and filming they will do in Harrisburg. The attorneys discussed the case they will be arguing this year, which deals with the constitutionality of search and seizure, specifically of a breathalyzer test for drunk drivers. First year legislators were familiarized with the basics of being a representative and club presiding officers ran workshops for other members. After these sessions members could chose to attend a workshop on service projects, effective club meetings, or persuasive speaking.

After a break for Subway sandwiches, legislators were able to share their bills and receive constructive criticism from other club members. As the afternoon drew to a close candidates for various statewide positions made speeches and campaigned for votes. There were candidates for Editor and Chief of the press corps, Speaker of the House, Lieutenant Governor, and Governor. All of the candidates gave speeches and answered five minutes of questions. Elections will take place at the Model Convention in Harrisburg.

Lainey Newman, a sophomore at Obama Academy, is the gold Lieutenant Governor this year. (There is both a gold and a blue senate and house in YAG. The gold house and senate have new, younger members, whereas the blue house and senate have returning members.) As gold Lieutenant Governor, Lainey will have the important role of presiding over the gold senate in Harrisburg this spring. She is also campaigning this year to be elected blue Lieutenant Governor for next year, the second highest position statewide.  Lainey agreed to be interviewed about her role this year and her hopes for the next two years.

What did you do this year at Pre-Ledge?

“I ran a few workshops, and I worked a lot with first year legislators and also the blue and gold senators this year. I also worked with the blue Lieutenant Governor Josh Getz to teach the senators what their role will be this year and how they should perform at model.”


What are you most looking forward to this spring as the gold Lieutenant Governor?

“I’m excited to work with the gold senators, especially the majority and minority leaders. I met a lot of gold senators at Pre-Leg who were interested in running for majority leader and last year I was majority leader and I had a lot of fun with that. I’m hoping to possibly get a C.O.N.A. nomination [Conference on National Affairs, which takes place over the summer for nominated delegates from YAG clubs around the country] or at least for some other of our club members to get nominated. And just presiding over the gold senate is going to be awesome.”


I know you would like to be elected blue Lieutenant Governor for next year. How did you feel your campaigning went at Pre-Ledge?

“I think that at Western Pre-Ledge I had a pretty good campaign and answered the questions well. I’m going to the Eastern Pre-Ledge this weekend and I think it’ll be a little more difficult because I won’t have club support there. Club support is really important while you’re making a speech  and it helps to rally support. But I think we’ll just have to see at model who else is running.”


Do you have a fallback plan if you don’t win?

“If I lose the bid for blue Lieutenant Governor I will probably opt to be a blue senator or committee chair.  I think that either way I am interested in running for governor the following year, so if I lose I’ll just have to campaign a lot that year for the bid for governor.”


Do you have anything else to add?

“I just want to say how important the Obama YAG club is to me. I really feel a great sense of appreciation for each and every member of our delegation. I encourage anyone else to run for positions who wants to. We have your back and everyone in the club has your best interests in mind. I just feel very grateful to be a part of this club.”

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