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Honors for Youth in Government

Clarkston High School students gather in Lansing for the conference. Photo provided (click for larger version)
May 02, 2012 - Senior Melissa Pavlik walked away from the annual Michigan Youth in Government conference last month with the honor for Best Proposal.

Her proposal to include women in the federal draft was given during the National Issues Forum portion of the conference where 26 Clarkston High School students attended, joining 900 students from around Michigan.

"My proposal went through all the committees and pass at the bottom of the docket which means it was the highest rated," Pavlik explained.

"Instead of making a state issue into a law you think of a very controversial issue to present. The goal is to make half the room love you and half the room hate you. There is usually a very heated debate on every single one. It is very passionate and loud."

Chas Claus, Clarkston High School History teacher and Youth in Government Club sponsor, explained the key element of the National Issues Forum is debate ability.

"You want a proposal no one has really thought of and has a lot of nuisance arguements that can be made," he added.

Three of Clarkston's five proposals made it to general assembly and passed out of the 12 total proposals passed. Including Pavlik's proposal, proposals from from Hannah Frame and Devon Ducharme passed and received honorable mention.

"It is a huge honor," Frame smiled. "Clarkston had a really good year. It is a lot about passion and argument. It is being able to form an argument instantly and quickly and execute it well. It is interesting to see the different viewpoints and how to counter them or play devil's advocate."

Ducharme presented a proposal to ban censorship in all forms of media. Frame's proposal was for the federal government to spend equaling on education and defense.

"You have to be well-researched enough to field questions on your proposal," Frame said. "You need to know technical details about it."

Other proposals from Clarkston students included Manny Alalouf's to change the date of trick-or-treating on Halloween to the last Friday of October.

"It would make it so kids wouldn't have school the next day," he explained. "Plus it would make a better environment without disrupting the religious holiday. It made it to the committee but as my person was typing it up and it was the last day - they didn't have time for it."

During the conference students also experienced the legislative and judiciary branches of government.

"I learned how to voice my opinions," said Troy Carnwath after being part of the legislative branch. "At the end of it you don't really feel afraid to speak up and say what you want to."

Jonas Sese received honorable mention for his work in the legislative.

"It really gives you a sense of how bills go through in our government on a state level," Sese reflected. "From the point when you are in committee, you try to shape the bills to the point where they are going to be able to pass through. You have to keep that in mind they have to pass through the house and the senate. You try to shape those that aren't necessary uncontroversial but are going to be well-written and well-worded enough to make it through. "

For the judiciary branch, the students broke into teams of four for a competitive tournament style session.

"It is head-to-head competition based on a court case everyone studies," added Claus. "You have to know the case, know the law and be good at application and acting on it."

The Youth in Government Club prepares for the conference throughout the year.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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