MAPS Youth in Government students make impact in legislative conference

Pictured are members of the Manistee High School Youth in Government contingent who went to Lansing. Front row left to right) Zachary Reau, Michael Stypa and Chris Blevins. (back row) left to right are Jordan McArthur, Ed Postma, Cameron Blevins, Elizabeth Selbee and Annie DeVoe. (Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Leadership.

It is a quality that comes into play in state government on a daily basis. Those legislators who are successful are the ones who step forward to take on the leadership role.

When Manistee High School sent its Youth in Government group to Lansing this year it was one of the smaller contingents from around the state, with only nine students: Mike Stypa, Cameron Blevins, Jordan MacArthur, Elzabeth DeVoe, Christopher Blevins, Elizabeth Selbee, Edward Postma, Sarah Chandler and Zachary Reau.

Advisor Stacey Andrews-Ramsey knew to have their voice heard they had to step up to the table and take the leadership roles.

“Chris Blevins was the speaker of the house this year,” she said. “Michael Stypa and Cameron Blevins were on a leadership committee. Michael was also a committee chair in the House of Representatives. It is pretty exciting that a small group from Manistee can make a good showing in a leadership area.”

The State YMCA Youth In Government program provides high school students with a unique opportunity to become acting state legislators, governors, lobbyists, lawyers and committee chairs. It takes the learning out of the textbook and literally puts the students on the front lines of taking on the roles of government.

Students simulate all phases and positions of the actual state government. These students are challenged with many of the issues that legislators must face in their elected offices.

Chris and Cameron Blevins took advantage of their positions of leadership this year to drive home some key legislation. A total of 49 pieces of legislation passed, including Conference bill 811 that had a distinctive Manistee flavor to it. That bill established a Michigan nuclear energy development commission to facilitate the development and implementation of new nuclear technologies facilities in Michigan.

“This is the first year I went,” said Cameron Blevins. “My brother, I and some our friends passed a bill on promoting nuclear energy. It got voted the best bill in the entire conference and is being recommended for actual legislation.”

Cameron said that piece of legislation took off instantly with everyone.

“It actually passed through all of the legislature in a matter of hours, and didn’t get one negative vote against it,” said Cameron. “The bill set up a Michigan Nuclear Energy Development Commission designed to promote nuclear energy in Michigan and to subsidize the building of power plants.”

His brother Chris, ruled over the House of Representatives as speaker of the house and used his position to promote the legislation as a priority.

“They got to come into the House of Representatives where I was speaker, and I got to suspend the rules allowing them to speak to the congregation,” said Chris. “It was funny that it was my bill that we were talking about.”

All of the MAPS students carried out important tasks, like sophomore Mike Stypa who served as committee chair in the House of Representatives.

“I was in the running for the top committee chair and there were three people in the running,” said Stypa. “One of the people I was running against was the runner-up for the governor position. So, it was pretty cool that I was able to be considered for top committee chair, since this is only my sophomore year. The other people were older, so that was pretty cool to get that recognition.”

For senior Edward Postma the experience was breaking new ground, since this was his first trip to the Youth in Government conference.

“I was in the national issues forum and what you do is write a bill and then when you get in committee it gets debated,” said Postma. “There was some pretty heavy debate. I had a really good time with it.”

Sarah Chandler said what she found very interesting was the perspective it gave her on how the legislature works.

“This was my first year and I was in the House,” she said. “It was pretty cool to sit on the House floor and debate like the real representatives do. It kind of gave me an understanding of how frustrating it can be, but also how important it is.”

Senior Jordan McArthur felt this year was slightly more intense then previous ones. The passion the students were showing for their bills and legislation was much more intense in his Senate position.

“A lot of the debate was about gun control and it was kind of frustrating trying to explain to people about the Second Amendment, but other than that it went pretty well,” he said.

The experience also proved to be quite daunting at times, because the students were asked to speak their opinions in front a large group of people.

“I was in the house and there was a lot of people, so speaking in front of them was kind of nerve wracking,” said Reau. “But like anything else, after you do it once or twice it becomes easier. It is a good way to get a fundamental understanding about how the government works.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

avatar

Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply