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The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina’s students were named to several leadership positions, pass a series of bills

WINSTON-SALEM — The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina’s Youth & Government delegates continued their longstanding tradition of outstanding commitment at the annual statewide Youth & Government Conference this past February. 

In addition to several appointments to key positions in the statewide conference, delegates from the YMCA of NWNC introduced a series of bills that addressed issues related to social justice, education reform, and environmental policy.

“Every year our delegates from our Y Association do such an incredible job representing themselves and their schools at this statewide conference,” said Kim McClure, Vice President of Youth Development and Aquatics for the YMCA of NWNC.

A total of 131 delegates from eight area high schools represented the YMCA of NWNC in the statewide conference. 

Youth & Government is a college and career prep program offered by the Y that teaches high schoolers about the operational and logistical process of state government. Youth & Government, or YAG, addresses the growing gap in civic education and participation among socioeconomic, race and gender groups. 

“Youth & Government is such an incredible program that exposes students to some of the nuances and details of state and local governments, sparking interests for many of them that will set them down a particular career path or field of education,” said Jennifer Cleary, Senior Director of College and Career Programs for the YMCA of NWNC. 

Below is a list of the students and the positions they were appointed to for the 2022-23 school year:

Appointed and Associate Officers
District Attorney- Asmithaa Vinukonda, Forsyth Country Day School 
Speaker Pro Tem: Maraam Al-Shayef, Early College of Forsyth
Speaker Pro Tem: Grant Faraci, Forsyth Country Day School
Presiding Officer: Nicholas Pollock, Early College of Forsyth
Presiding Officer: Landon Greenwood, Forsyth Country Day School

Media
Co-editor in Chief: Caroline McConnico, Reynolds High School

Executive Officer Team
Attorney General: Gwen Petty, West Forsyth High School
Chief Justice: Julia Kincaid, Forsyth Country Day School
Speaker of the House: Springer Hiatt, Forsyth Country Day School

The following are the Forum, House and Senate bills passed by NWNC delegates:
 
Forum Bill 06: To make new suburban project areas have sidewalks and full sun trees lining all sides.
Introduced by Ryan Li and Melanie Alonso Solano, Early College of Forsyth
 
Forum Bill 11:
Elimination of the use of Lagoon-and-Sprayfield Systems in existing
Industrial Hog Farms.
Introduced by Alice Neelon and Sophie Johnson, Reynolds High School
 
Forum Bill 16: To demonstrate North Carolina’s appreciation for renewable energy sources by capitalizing on the use of solar power as a major clean energy source.
Introduced by Sloane Whalen and Finn Wachtel, Mount Tabor High School
 
Forum Bill 21: Incentivize public school students to complete high school.
Introduced by Grant Faraci, Forsyth Country Day School
 
Forum Bill 22: Promote a higher acceptance and tolerance of eminent domain for the state of North Carolina by raising pay for property when taken with eminent domain.
Introduced by Devin Burke, Forsyth Country Day School
 
House Bill 04: Raise the punishment for human trafficking.
Introduced by Kristen Roberts, Abigail Clark and Ava Cresto, Calvary Day School
 
Senate Bill 09: To require employers to offer all workers an unpaid break, when working a shift of eight hours or more.
Introduced by Kevin Vasquez-Velasquez, David Calderon and Cole Pollock, Early College of Forsyth

The annual YAG Conference is typically held in Raleigh in February, where delegations from Ys across the state meet for a four-day conference with a mock government simulation. Students are able to serve as lobbyists, budget analysts, media members or as a representative in one of the three U.S. branches of government. 

But due to COVID-19, the conference went virtual a second year in a row, and was held February 18-20. Among the activities this weekend included a video message from Governor Roy Cooper to the students participating in the conference. 

YAG at the YMCA of NWNC had 164 students enrolled in the program across eight schools in Forsyth and Stokes counties during the 2021-2022 school year. Of those students, 131 participated in the annual conference. 

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About us: The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina is a nonprofit 501(c)(3). Our Mission: “Helping all people reach their God-given potential in spirit, mind and body.”  While our Association office is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, we have 14 branches located in seven counties — Alexander, Davie, Iredell, Forsyth, Stokes, Wilkes and Yadkin. The YMCA is for Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility.