Obama Academy Hosts Annual Youth and Government Elections Convention


Obama sophomores Sonia Degenholtz (left) and Anna Spak (right) listen to a candidate’s pitch | Photo credit: Kayla Page

Sam Bisno, Editor-in-Chief

Yesterday marked the first time in the Youth and Government (YAG) careers of any of Obama’s current delegates that their school played host for the annual Western Elections Convention. The event, full of speeches, campaigning (which is really just bribery with candy), and the occasional closed-door negotiation, sees dozens of students from across western Pennsylvania elected to statewide leadership roles within the Pennsylvania YAG program for the coming year.

Obama students and parents were busy during the week prior to Saturday setting up tables, clearing away trash, and calculating the most cost-effective pizza option for lunch. Their efforts proved worth it, as the proximity of the convention allowed more of Obama’s club members to attend than last year — in fact, Obama was by far the largest delegation present. Mayor Bill Peduto even stopped by briefly to observe the process and answer questions from students.

Obama ran candidates for each of the available positions. Seniors Heather Dean and Laura Kelly and sophomore Anna Spak were elected to serve as justices on the PA Supreme Court. Sophomores Dylan Shapiro and Jonah Woolley will chair committees in the Blue House (comprised of more experienced delegates), and freshman Sophia Roa will chair a committee in the Gold House (for younger members). In a nail-biter of a race for Western Press Manager, senior Jaiell Eleam eked out a victory by a three-vote margin, while sophomore Aastha Singh, running for Speaker of the Gold House, the premier position of the event, lost in heartbreaking fashion in a runoff.

The winner of that race, Parker Logue of the Cranberry-based Rose E. Schneider delegation, will join the state’s Presiding Officer corps, which oversaw the convention. Included among them are Obama seniors Sam Bisno (Youth Governor) and Daevan Mangalmurti (Blue Lieutenant Governor). The final Presiding Officer position, Gold Lieutenant Governor, will be elected next week at Eastern Elections Convention.

Said Isaac Degenholtz, Obama’s Delegation Leader, “Although we didn’t win all of our elections, it was a great success and we’re excited for the rest of the year.”