When 47 Obama students woke up on Thursday, April 11th at 5 AM for a trip to Harrisburg, they felt myriad emotions. Some were stressed, anticipating a weekend of forced interaction with strangers and far too early mornings. Some were excited, looking forward to an exciting first year or a return to passionate debates with old friends. Some were mentally unsure, worried that they wouldn’t enjoy their time or concerned that any good moments would be outweighed by the bad. By 1 PM on Sunday, April 14th, all of those feelings were gone, replaced by only one: pride. Obama, for the first time in three years, had achieved major victories at the YMCA’s Youth and Government Model Convention.
Junior Sam Bisno won the Youth Governor election in the first round, beating all expectations by avoiding a strenuous runoff. Junior Daevan Mangalmurti did the same in the Lieutenant Governor elections. Along with freshman Aastha Singh, the three have been selected to attend the YMCA’s Conference on National Affairs this summer. Senior Kyra Baillie, who won Outstanding Member of the Administration as the Youth Governor’s Chief-of-Staff, junior Isaac Degenholtz, who held the post Senate Majority Whip, and sophomore Konstantinos Papazekos, who sponsored major marijuana-decriminalization legislation that was signed into law by the Youth Governor, were all also selected as alternates for the conference. Two Obama freshmen -Dylan Shapiro and Jonah Woolley- won the Outstanding House Delegate and Gold Senate Bill Citation as well. Freshman Elise Silvestri also had her legislation on mental health education signed by the Youth Governor. On the judicial front, junior Piper Walsh was nominated for the National Judicial Competition based on her exceptional performance as an attorney. Senior Zoe Fuller and junior Laura Kelly were chosen as alternates.
More importantly, however the vast majority of members enjoyed their time at Model. Students who had previously talked about quitting were instead saying that they were going to run for positions and secure awards next year. Students who were previously lukewarm in their interest resolved to actually prepare for next year. The club felt united and optimistic for the first time in months. As Baillie, who served as the Obama club’s Delegation Leader, wrote on social media “the amount of love I felt this weekend… is more than I think I’ve ever felt.”