Joining Gov. Paige Hughes at the New York State Youth & Government conference in were Ti delegates Garrison Hughes, Will Lawrie, Ian Lawrie, Michael Watts, Dale Quesnel, Karney Manning, Josie Worley, Joe Gonyeau, Logan Ross, Jacob Young, Zech Yaw, Cody Shaner and Tomas Hendrix. Danielle Palandrani is the Ticonderoga Youth in Government adviser.
There’s no doubt about it, the 2012 New York State Youth & Government conference was the best ever, according to the governor.
“I admit I’m bias, but I feel it was the best conference ever,” said Paige Hughes, New York governor. “We had the sharpest, most intelligent delegates New York has ever had. It was honestly the best conference I could have hoped for.”
Leading the conference was Hughes and 13 other delegates from Ticonderoga High School.
“When you get to Albany, everyone knows who the Ti kids are,” Hughes said. “Ticonderoga has established itself as a leader in Youth & Government.”
Joining Hughes at the state conference in March were Ti delegates Garrison Hughes, Will Lawrie, Ian Lawrie, Michael Watts, Dale Quesnel, Karney Manning, Josie Worley, Joe Gonyeau, Logan Ross, Jacob Young, Zech Yaw, Cody Shaner and Tomas Hendrix.
Danielle Palandrani is the Ticonderoga Youth in Government adviser.
Youth & Government, sponsored by the YMCA, is a national program that involves teens in state-organized, model-government programs. Students work on the local and district levels researching issues. They then go to the state conference where they divide into three branches of government — executive, legislative and judicial. There they propose, debate and adopt laws designed to meet the needs of the state.
Students fill the roles of legislators,lobbyists, pages, lawyers, judges, media and others. More than 550 students took part.
The state conference is held in Albany in the State Capitol, the Legislative Office Building and the Judicial Building.
While it’s a student exercise in government, it is serious business. State leaders pay close attention to their student counterparts. In fact, more than 80 current New York State laws were first introduced in the New York State Youth & Government Legislature.
Hughes is the second state governor from Ticonderoga. Joe Hiro was elected to the post in 1995-96. The conference marked the end of Hughes’ year in office. In her farewell address she challenged New York delegates to work up to their potential.
“I told them that they’re New York’s greatest generation,” Hughes said. “I believe that’s true. I challenged them to live up to it.”
More than 100 bills were proposed by delegates at the conference. About half were adopted, the most in a decade. Many bills dealt with education reform, economic growth and the legalization of casino gambling.
Ticonderoga delegates were successful in getting a bill to ban possession of tobacco by under-age people passed. Ti delegates failed to get a bill on illegal immigration approved.
Ti students also served as lawyers for a man who claimed he was illegally dismissed from his job. They lost the case, but earned praise for their arguments.
“It’s interesting to watch and see the time and effort these kids put into actual issues,” said Palandrani, who stressed there is no adult involvement at the conference. “The kids are motivated and incredibly well prepared.”
Hughes said the state conference is inspiring.
“A lot of adults look at today’s youth as if there’s no hope for the future,” she said. “When you get to Albany and see so many teens come together for a common goal it’s amazing. I feel really good about our future.”
Serving as state governor has been a privilege, Hughes said.
“It’s been fascinating, a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “It’s really opened my eyes to the possibilities that are out there for me and the impact I can have in the future.”
The senior plans to attend college in the fall to study journalism and public policy. She would like to become a political analyst.
“The past year has been such a learning experience,” Hughes said. “I have a lot more respect for all the delegates after seeing how hard they work.”
Hughes attended the Youth & Government governor’s conference in Washington, D.C., last June and represented New York at the national Youth & Government conference last July. She also visited five districts in New York as governor. Although her term as governor is over, Hughes has been invited to the Massachusetts Youth & Government conference in May.
“It’s been a busy year,” Hughes said, “but I’ve loved every bit of it.”