A Recap of Model 2018!


Obama YAG 2017-18 Delegation

Model- a buzzword around Obama all year, but even more so when April rolls around. Although many have heard the word “model”, not everyone knows what happens at this insane convention.

Model is a four-day convention for students to take part in a model government. The program, which is run through the YMCA, attracts nearly 700 students each year. Spanning from all across the state, students come to learn about and work as their own legislature, judicial branch, executive branch, and press corps.

This year Obama had a small but proud group of about 30 kids go to the convention in Harrisburg. These students logged long hours and debated over legislation or legal precedents until they were exhausted but at the end, nobody could say it wasn’t worth it.

As stated earlier, the club has four unique branches, the first one being that of legislative:

Legislative is divided into four different parts: Gold House and Gold Senate, usually for newer members, and Blue House and Blue Senate, an area for veterans in the club.

In the Blue House, debate was lively, as usual. Among the more controversial acts discussed were, in no particular order: a lowering of the Pennsylvania minimum wage to one cent per hour, allowance of high school students to vote for their school board representatives, and a ban on political candidates who have conspired with foreign entities from running in local or state elections. From Obama, two bills made it onto the house floor: those of Blue Senators Isaac Degenholtz (which gradually phased out charter schools) and Daevan Mangalmurti (which consolidated school administrations). Both were sponsored by Sam Bisno, who was able to successfully argue for the former; unfortunately, Daevan’s proposal was killed, albeit very narrowly. Sam also took on the role of Blue House Labor and Industry Committee Chair and was rewarded for his efforts at the end of the weekend with the title of Outstanding Committee Chair. Moreover, he was one of two Obama delegates to be selected to attend the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) in North Carolina this coming summer. Blue Representatives Cecil Price III, James Picone, Florian Reihl, John Wesesky, and Dominic Victoria all contributed to chambers sessions as well.

In the Gold Senate, freshman Konstantinos Papazekos was selected as the other of Obama’s two CONA delegates, along with Sam. He served there with sophomores Aubree Peterson-Spanard and Oliver Blackstock IV, the former of whom served as the Gold Senate Majority Party Whip.

The Blue Senate, which generally hosts some of the greatest debates in the Youth and Government program, was more efficient than usual, passing over 20 pieces of legislation during the two days it met in the Capitol building. Among the bills that made their way across the Senate floor were proposals to let death row inmates donate their organs (passed), bracket the minimum wage by age (failed), and nullify certain federal powers in Pennsylvania (passed). Unfortunately, no Obama bills from the House made it to the Senate, leaving Obama’s Blue Senators with Daevan’s school consolidation bill and Isaac’s charter schools bill as the only two bills from Obama to make it to the Senate floor. Although both conservatives and liberals in the Senate were initially opposed to his legislation, Isaac was able to convince them that eliminating charter schools was the right decision for the state, and his act was “signed into law” by the Youth Governor at the end of Model. Besides Isaac and Daevan, sophomore Michael Eddy Harvey also served in the Blue Senate. Daevan and Michael served as Majority Party Leader and Majority Party Whip, respectively, two positions crucial to the functions of the Senate.

Moving from legislative is the judicial branch of Youth and Government. Here is Laura Kelly’s take on judicial this year.

This year was a huge improvement for the judicial branch. Returning members improved their arguments greatly, and new members came to model prepared to debate with thorough briefs and oral arguments. This year the branch debated the constitutionality of prolonged solitary confinement. Attorneys and justices alike are extremely anxious for next year, with high hopes to improve some of the flaws found at model, including moving the judicial room and more integration of the three branches. Overall, it was an extremely successful year, with attorney Laura Kelly nominated as an alternate for the National Judicial Conference, and Zoe Fuller and Ekaterini Papazekos serving their first year as justices of the Supreme Court.

Additionally, Zoe Fuller ran an amazing campaign for Chief Justice; although she did not end up winning, she came incredibly close.

Finally, the Executive Branch and the Press Corps: This year Delegation Leader Kyra Baillie served as the Secretary of Education and lobbied for or against bills that she and the governor thought would help or hurt the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This made for a busy and eventually rewarding weekend, as she won the award for “Outstanding Member of the Governor’s Administration” and was nominated as an alternate for the Conference on National Affairs. 

This year Obama did not have a press corps, but hopefully we will be able to start one next year!

Youth and Government is an amazing club. It is an incredible amount of fun that both challenges your brain and is incredibly rewarding. Obama students should definitely consider joining next year when they are given the chance to choose new clubs.