• Youth and Government

    The Timberland delegation performed well at the 74th annual Youth and Government Conference, held December 1 to 3 in Jefferson City. Two students served as presiding officers, six served in non-elected leadership roles, three won top awards and two had bills signed into ‘YAG Law.’ Three additional students were elected to serve as presiding officers in 2023.

    At this convention, senior Kaylie Lineback served as Youth Governor and senior Bella Luttfiya served as Speaker of the House, positions they were elected to at the 2021 convention. Junior Trinity Kiner and senior Justin Miller served as Clerks for the Senate and House, respectively, and junior Danny Wilson served as House Floor Leader.

    “I feel like people, too often, surround themselves with peers who have similar opinions, but having the experience to meet a diverse group of people consisting of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds really is an educational experience. Meeting different individuals really allowed me to learn about different points of view and how these perceptions on issues shape public opinion in government,” Wilson said.

    Senior Abby Jarman was a Committee Chair for the Senate, while juniors Ayianna Baynes, Danny Wilson and Jade Wilson served in this role for the House.

    “YAG prepares the younger generation in a governmental aspect, so that we can then take that knowledge with us into the ‘real; world,” Baynes said.

    Junior Mason Hayes, who ran for Governor, junior Ayianna Baynes and sophomore Sabrene Lutfiyya were each awarded “Outstanding Statesperson” due to their well-thought-out speeches and ability to speak strongly both for and against bills, as well as ask informed questions. This is the top legislative award at the conference.

    “We all believe in advocating for ourselves and those around us. Being able to meet people who have that same belief was amazing, along with everyone being so welcoming and friendly,” sophomore Anahi Ramos said.

    Junior Ayianna Baynes was elected Secretary of State, junior Trinity Kiner elected Lieutenant Governor and junior Jade Wilson elected Speaker of the House. These positions will be developed throughout the year, culminating with serving as Presiding Officers at the 2023 Youth and Government (YAG) Clark Convention.

    “YAG is important, because it’s a safe place for teenagers to express their political opinions and simply express themselves more than they may be able to at school or at home with family,” Kiner said.

    The program, in its eighth year at THS, is designed to give students hands-on experience in government through legislative, media and executive branches, helping fulfill the program's motto, “democracy must be learned by each generation.” As an active part of this, senior Aidan Grimes and sophomore Sabrene Lutffiya had their bills signed into YAG law after much lively debate. Jarman also had her bill selected for floor debate.

    “YAG is important, because it not only teaches us how to utilize our voice in politics, but also shows us how to respectfully interact with others. Even when people gave speeches of complete opposition, or completely disagreed with another’s views, there was always a strong basis of mutual respect,” junior Will Bastean said.

    This year, 17 students were part of the Timberland delegation; they participated in the executive and legislative branches. Additional THS participants included senior Anna Benny, junior Alex Pineda and sophomores Sabrina Longwell and Skai Peterkin. Ida Hoffmann, a YAG alumna and journalism teacher at THS, served as the adviser for the delegation as well as a state legislative coordinator for the House.

    “YAG is important. [During the convention], I felt heard.... To me, YAG is also another form of advocacy for youth and provides students a way to grow... I feel like I can be a part of something without being judged,” Benny said.

    Youth and Government is a YMCA-sponsored event held in Jefferson City across two conventions. Student participants emulate the roles of house representatives and senators, as well as fill the roles of reporters, lawyers, judges and members of the executive branch. For more information, visit www.MoYAG.org