Auburn Middle School students attended the state KYA conference on November 12-14, 2015. Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA) is a youth government program designed to give hands-on experience in Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches of the government.
Students in Mrs. Tina Owens’s class research, write, and debate bills addressing the most important issues facing Kentucky. Students then attend a 3 day conference in Louisville where they present and debate their bills, role playing as Kentucky Senators and Representatives. Highest ranking bills get to present their bills in the Capitol Chambers in Frankfort on Friday. Three Auburn students voiced their thoughts about their KYA experience for this article.
“If it wasn’t for KYA I may have never found my voice; it opened a door in my life that’s full of opportunities. Mrs. Owens took me in to the KYA family and I instantly felt welcomed. KYA is a wonderful program that shows you how your self-worth and confidence is important. They teach you that everyone has the potential to be the difference the world needs and to never waste that potential. I have made a difference. At 13 years old I have passed two bills. I know that I’m not the only one who wants to see the world change – so do it with KYA.”
“KYA is a program that helps students find their voice. They learn to stand up for what they believe in and not fear ridicule. They learn that it is okay to be wrong and it’s okay to at first fail. But most importantly, they learn that the only way to accomplish anything is to listen to others. After leaving the conference, they understand that a single voice can advocate for change, but it takes a movement to enact change. They know that together, they can make a difference.”
“Before KYA I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t think I had a voice. Once I went to conference and saw how confident people were with their voice, I wanted to have that, so I participated and worked. Now, I am in 8th grade, and I have been in KYA for three years. I had my own bill idea chosen by my peers to research and develop. I feel confident in what I say; I can make a difference in the world. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Thank you KYA for giving me my voice.
In addition to the amazing experiences Auburn’s KYA group had at the annual convention, they also won several awards for their work. Sixth grader Calloway Bills, and seventh graders Landon Larson and Preston Hurt received Outstanding Premier Bill in Auburn’s Premiere (6th and 7th graders) group. Their bill was to ban hand-held electronic devices while driving.
Eighth graders Sarah Cassady, Lyndsey Gregory, and Serenity Metcalfe were ranked in the top five in the Legislative (8th graders) group and got to present in the Kentucky General Assembly. Their bill was to proactively test third graders who show warning signs for dyslexia, allowing those who qualify to receive earlier interventions and accommodations to create successful school experiences where they would otherwise struggle.
Auburn’s KYA group overall received a Delegation of Excellence Award. Sarah Cassady received Outstanding Speaker Award and Serenity Metcalfe received Outstanding Delegate Award. The group was most excited, though, for receiving the highest Community Service Award- the Kentucky YMCA Kentucky Youth Assembly Distinction Level Service Award.
KYA is offered to middle school students as a fall enrichment course with Mrs. Tina Owens at Auburn School.