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Virtual YAG Conference Yields Big Results for Ravenscroft Delegation
Students watch a video presentation in the Keim Center

Youth and Government participants in the Keim Center listen to a speech as part of their activities at the virtual conference.

The 30th N.C. Youth and Government Conference was held as a virtual experience Friday, Feb. 18-Sunday, Feb. 20. Despite some changes to the format and scheduling, Ravenscroft’s delegation — the largest yet from our Upper School and the largest at this year’s conference — seized on many opportunities to lead and collaborate in this annual experiential learning program. 

Sean Kennedy, Co-Director of College Counseling and a YAG advisor, provided the following wrap-up, highlighting the many accolades and contributions of the hard-working Ravens who were in attendance. Congratulations to everyone for their outstanding effort and achievements.

For the first time, we had two students run for elected positions (Mike Hollingshead ’23 for Governor and Skyler Riley ’23 for District Attorney), an exercise that takes great courage particularly in a virtual setting. Mike was not elected, a difficult outcome given how well he campaigned. He represented himself and Ravenscroft incredibly well and established himself as an important leader within the YAG program statewide. Skyler was elected as one of the two District Attorneys for the 2023 Conference, which means she will oversee the Mock Trial program. With the largest Mock Trial group in YAG statewide, it will be great to have Skyler representing the school and our Mock Trial students in this role next year.

A record number of students received awards at the Closing Session:

  • Sunishka Deshpande ’22 won the Alumni Scholarship Award, one of two top honors at the conference provided to the delegate who has modeled leadership, compassion, respect, empathy, open-mindedness and a passion for YAG. She was also named Model Mock Trial Witness.

  • Eugene Lee ’22 was named Model Committee Chair in the Senate.

  • Audrey Stock ’24 was named Model First-Year Mock Trial Delegate.

  • Andrew Guenard ’23 was named Model Mock Trial Attorney.

  • Nyla Moore ’24 and Audrey Stock ’24 were on the winning team for the Mock Trial All-Star Round. 

In the Media program, Jackson Gring ’23 did a great job with producing and editing multiple conference segments that were broadcast throughout the conference (several of which are available on Instagram @ncyouthandgov). Additionally, Jackson was named as the Broadcast Media Co-Editor for the 2023 Conference, the first time we have had a YAG Media officer!

In the Legislative program, our bill groups submitted great legislation for consideration and many succeeded in being signed into law and recognized by the Youth Governor, the highest designation a bill can receive. No matter the outcome, the quality of our bills is really something to behold. I encourage you to review the bill documents linked below:

  • Forum Bill by D. Bennett ’25, M. DesRosiers ’25 (passed in three chambers and recognized by Youth Governor)

  • House Bill by H. Yang ’23, S. Firozvi ’24, H. Hauck ’24 (passed in three chambers and signed into law by Youth Governor)

  • House Bill by S. Djuric ’23, R. Clarke ’23, N. Dirks ’23 (passed by Committee and House chamber)

  • House Bill by A. Haywood ’24, J. McNeill ’24 (passed by Committee and House chamber)

  • House Bill by S. Hopper ’24, A. Shirak ’24, C. Graham ’23 (passed in three chambers and signed into law by Youth Governor)

  • Senate Bill by M. Hollingshead ’23, J. Seidenfrau ’23, M. Kennedy ’23 (passed in three chambers and signed into law by Youth Governor)

  • Senate Bill by M. Rutigliano ’22, D. Singh ’22 (passed in three chambers and appeared before the Governor's Cabinet)

  • Senate Bill by A. Fink ’22, S. Olander ’22 (passed in Committee; great work by Shane to deliver the bill solo despite limited prep time!)

  • Senate Bill by W. Russell ’23, O. Hitt ’23, A. Rappaport ’23, E. Smith ’23 (passed in Committee and Senate)

  • Senate Bill by E. Erickson ’22, D. Norona ’22, E. Browne ’22, H. Sandman ’22 (passed in three chambers and signed into law by Youth Governor)

  • Senate Bill by E. Lee ’22, M. Settle ’22, J. Nickolas ’22, S. Schantz ’22 (passed by Committee and Senate chamber)

Elsewhere in the Legislative program, Tariq Firozvi ’22 (Governor’s Cabinet), Ethan McMinn ’24 (Lobbyist), Nydia Davis ’25 (Budget Analyst) and Emily Capell ’25 (Lobbyist) did great work in their respective roles!

In the Judicial program, our Mock Trial delegates did an incredible job across all of the multiple Mock Trial teams. All of these students endured unprecedented program changes, but their resilience positioned them for really strong trial performances. Andrew Guenard ’23, Nyla Moore ’24, Sofia Herbert ’24 and Audrey Stock ’24 participated in the All-Star Mock Trial round based on their teams’ performances during the preliminary rounds. I am excited to have the following Mock Trial students return next year for what I hope to be a less complicated Mock Trial year: Brianna Donigan ’23, Jadyn Carmon ’23, Sara Baende ’23, Chloe Adams ’23, Leah Atasoy ’25, Ethan MacLaren ’25, Nina Sharkady ’25 and Beatrice Laskowski ’25.

The growth in our delegation membership and participation, supported by the continued generosity of the Pope Foundation, has been incredible to watch. The 400% increase in membership in the nine years of our delegation’s existence could not happen without the support and commitment of so many constituencies. I’m always humbled by the students who make the decision to join us and spend the year learning from this program experience. Moreover, offering Ravenscroft students more opportunities for civic engagement benefits them and our society for years to come. 

I wanted to express extra gratitude for first-year YAG advisor and English Department faculty member Shelley Brown for her outstanding advice and support throughout the year and for organizing a great on-campus event for our students on the Saturday of the conference. Also offering great advice to me and support to the students were the student YAG Executive Board of seniors Eugene Lee, Sunishka Deshpande, Simone Baldwin, Ethan Erickson, Dylan Norona, and Alexa Shaffer, and juniors Mike Hollingshead, Andrew Guenard, and Ella Smith.

Our thanks to the John William Pope Foundation for their generous support of the History and Social Studies Department and programs such as YAG that help engage our students in civics and leadership.