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Delegation Gets Bills Signed, Wins Awards at YAG Conference
A group photo of students at YAG plus two candids

Ravenscroft sent its largest-ever delegation — 64 students — to the YMCA Youth & Government Annual Conference Feb. 16-19 and continued the program’s tradition of excellence. It was the first in-person YAG experience since 2020. 

YAG club co-advisors Sean Kennedy and Shelley Brown shared the following recap with the school community.

Legislative Recap 

Our Legislative program students once again turned in an impressive showing! Their great work over the past few months was clear in the quality of the bill ideas and presentations at the conference. Equally impressive were their in-conference bill revisions to improve their presentations. No matter how far their bill lasted in the legislative process, all bill authors are to be commended. Having a bill signed into law by the Youth Governor is the farthest a bill can go at the conference, so congratulations to the three groups mentioned below who achieved that feat!

Freshmen Forum bills:

  • A grid of photos showing students at the YAG Conference

    FB 13 by Jack Oates ’26 and Adam Becske ’26 advanced to Governor’s Cabinet. 

  • FB 14 by Coley Riley ’26 and Valerie Margraf ’26 passed through multiple chambers.

  • FB 16 by George Bianchi ’26 and Shrutav Deshpande ’26 was signed into law by the Youth Governor.

House bills:

  • HB 28 by Shayna Lindauer ’25 and Nathan Jones ’25 advanced through multiple chambers.

  • HB 29 by Aryan Ghodrat ’24, Jodie Loturco ’24 and Elena Mathan ’24 was a strong bill that finished in committees.

  • HB 30 by AJ Peterson ’24 and Nolan Coole ’24 advanced to Governor’s Cabinet.

  • HB 34 by Jai Gupta ’25 and Anika Bhatia-Villarama ’25 passed through multiple chambers.

  • HB 35 by Luke Thomann ’25 and Leven McConahay ’25 was signed into law by the Youth Governor.

Senate bills:

  • SB 35 by Deanna Bennett ’25, Megan DesRosiers ’25 and Nydia Davis ’25 was another strong bill that finished in committees.

  • SB 36 by Anna Haywood ’24, Arianna Shirak ’24 and Jane McNeill ’24 was signed into law by the Youth Governor.

  • SB 37 by Nolan Dirks ’23, Jenna Seidenfrau ’23 and Olivia Hitt ’23 advanced to Governor’s Cabinet.

  • SB 38 by Brianna Donigan ’23 and Christina Graham ’23 was yet another strong bill that finished in committees.

Also serving in the Legislative program were several students in key legislative positions: Emily Capell ’25 as a lobbyist, Ethan McMinn ’24 as a budget analyst and Nydia Davis ’25 as a chamber clerk. Each role is essential to the legislative process and are great positions to pursue for returning legislators at future conferences. Additionally, Mike Hollingshead ’23 and Will Russell ’23 served as members of the Governor’s Cabinet, an 11-member group of experienced YAG legislators who help decide which bills become law.

Judicial Recap

Through participation in the Mock Trial and Court of Appeals roles, Ravenscroft had the largest representation of any school in the legal arena this year. Students in the judicial program put in a ton of self-guided preparation, and it is always amazing to watch them in action once the conference begins!

Serving as attorneys and witnesses in a murder trial, our Mock Trial students served on multiple teams and even competed against one another in the preliminary rounds of the program competition. Congratulations to new MT students Tyler Artinger ’25, Sheila Awashti ’26, Nikki Gupta ’26, Tessa Lee ’24, Michael Owens ’24 and Ruby Ramirez ’26 on their first experience and to returning MT students Sara Baende ’23, Andrew Guenard ’23, Ethan MacLaren ’25 and Nyla Moore ’24 on another excellent year. We were fortunate to have multiple students face each other in the Mock Trial All-Star Round, a competition of the two best-performing teams from the preliminary rounds. The team of Sofia Herbert ’24, Colin Burns ’24, Matthew Madewell ’26, Leah Atasoy ’25 and Lilla Megyeri ’25 edged the team including Joshua Ward ’26 and Ben Pataki ’24 in the championship round.

Eight students tackled the unique demands of appellate law in the Court of Appeals by writing and defending briefs on two cases with impressive results. Chloe Adams ’23, Landree Allen ’25, Maya Antony ’24, Tul Cherukuri ’24 and Sophia Hopper ’24 argued in front of several panels of justices with success, and the team of Sundesh Donthi ’25, Ethan Silverman ’25 and Chris Speranza ’25 advanced to All-Star round and emerged as the Case 2 Champions.

Media Recap

Led by Broadcast Editor Jackson Gring ’23, we had multiple Media delegates this year with Donnie Williams ’24 in Broadcast and Ella Smith ’23 and Madison Kennedy ’23 working in Social Media. Jackson and Donnie produced great video content before and during the conference, including this amazing conference recap video! If you follow the NC YAG Instagram account (@ncyouthandgov), you’ll see the great work of our media delegates on full display!

Officers and Accolades

Congratulations to outgoing District Attorney Skyler Riley ’23 and Broadcast Editor Jackson Gring ’23 for serving as YAG State Officers this year, a year-round commitment for both. Kudos to Nyla Moore ’24 and Ethan McMinn ’24 on their campaigns for District Attorney and Youth Governor, respectively. Nyla won her election and will succeed Skyler as the 2023-24 District Attorney. Ethan, despite being a conference favorite and an outstanding canvasser, lost his election in a stacked field of opponents. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to pursue office in a statewide program, so, win or lose, both deserve applause and praise for their efforts! Additionally, Shrutav Deshpande ’26 was named 2023-24 Freshmen Forum Presiding Officer, a leadership role positioning him as one of the student leaders of the Freshmen Forum.

During the weekend, our students (and advisors even!) earned an impressive array of awards and accolades

  • Superlatives Winners (a new conference thing designed to be like what you see in school yearbooks):

    • Best Dressed at Conference: Donnie Williams ’24

    • Most Outgoing: Sara Baende ’23

    • Most Likely to Change the World for the Better: Jenna Seidenfrau ’23 

  • Conference Awards (voted on by YAG state officers and advisors from other delegations):

    • Model Forum Delegate (top ninth-grade legislator): Shrutav Deshpande ’26

    • Model Media Delegate (top media team member): Donnie Williams ’24

    • Court of Appeals All-Star Case #2 Champions: Sundesh Donthi ’25, Ethan Silverman ’25 and Chris Speranza ’25

    • Model Lobbyist Presenter (top lobbyist): Emily Capell ’25

    • Mock Trial All-Star Team Champions: Sofia Herbert ’24, Colin Burns ’24, Matthew Madewell ’26, Leah Atasoy ’25 and Lilla Megyeri ’25

    • Model Mock Trial Witness (top witness): Sofia Herbert ’24

    • NC YAG Advisors of the Year: Shelley Brown and Sean Kennedy 

The Road Ahead

The conference comes and goes like a comet, and now we turn our attention to spring and summer opportunities for civic engagement and to next year’s conference.

This spring, we look forward to connecting with the organization You Can Vote for voter registration volunteer opportunities for interested students. In the summer, the national YMCA operates the Council on National Affairs and the National Judicial Competition, the national legislative and judicial versions of our state-level programs.

After our wrap-up meeting, the official YAG Club activities cease until the fall, but we hope that the energy and excitement of the YAG conference experience compel our students to stay engaged and active in our democracy through learning and action year-round!

The students’ involvement in the YAG Conference is funded by a civic engagement grant from the A.E. Pope Foundation. Ravenscroft is grateful for the support.