The State Capitol today was packed with bills being discussed and legal arguments being made, but it was the leaders of tomorrow that were calling the shots.
Outside the Lieutenant Governor’s Office at the State Capitol, a desk where the governor and his staff are hard at work.
Rishin Sharma says, “We get to write bills about issues that are important to us. About things that we’re passionate about.”
Sharma is a high school senior from Butler County and the State YMCA’s Youth Governor. It’s his fourth year in their ‘Youth and Government’ program.
“We have 700 students from all across Pennsylvania, coming together to model how the state government works.”
That includes model senators and representatives working to pass legislation and lawyers making arguments to Supreme Court Justices.
“I’ll also be appearing there and giving my own oral argument, just to give it a tryout.”
Middle and high school students from across the state are participating in the program, also holding conferences and elections throughout the year.
Bruce Nilson says, “I think it gives people an excitement and a passion for what our government can do for us.”
Nilson is an alumni advisor who first participated as a student 20 years ago.
“You kind of almost did feel like you stepped into an alternative reality for a weekend.”
High School Senior Kasey Roberts is participating for her fifth time this year acting as lieutenant governor.
Kasey Roberts tells us, “I am president of the Senate. I take bills as they come from committee, I create a calendar from them, and I preside over chamber sessions.”
Her goal; to one day become a lawyer or lobbyist, representing non-profits. This program preparing her for that next chapter in life.
“We’ve developed such a realistic view on politics, but not a cynical view. So, it gives you a leg up in more ways than just one.”