Students at Yaw-hosted seminar keep it real in simulated debate

Published 05.23.2019


Students and faculty from all 13 attending schools had the opportunity to pose with Yaw in the Field House and commemorate the day.After being introduced by college President Davie Jane Gilmour (right), the senator outlines the day's agenda, reminding students that "compromise is a very important thing in any successful legislative work."Crompton, not above good-naturedly needling his audience into thoughtful participation, also takes time for one-on-one engagement – this time on the pros and cons of lobbyists.Addressing the prickly issue of whether legislators should follow their conscience or their constituents, students take sides on raising the gas tax to pay for infrastructure improvements.Yaw listens as opponents of legalizing marijuana refine their position during a breakout discussion in the Breuder Advanced Technology & Health Sciences Center. Guiding them through the process are some of the seminar's many knowledgeable facilitators (counterclockwise from bottom right): state Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York); Fred R. Strathmeyer Jr., the state Department of Agriculture's deputy secretary for plant industry and consumer protection; and Fred Sembach, chief of staff to state Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon).More than 200 students from 13 school districts in Bradford, Lycoming and Union counties gathered at Penn College on Thursday for the annual Student Government Seminar hosted by state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Loyalsock Township). “This seminar is a great opportunity for high school students to interact with their local, state and federal officials,” said the senator, who also serves as chair of the college's board of directors. “It allows students to develop legislation, debate important issues with key policymakers, offer their personal input and vote on “mock” bills in an open session. The intent is for students to obtain a better understanding of the legislative process and develop professional relationships that can open the door for future internships and job opportunities." The commonwealth's largest Senate-organized student government event, the seminar incorporates student delegates and their teachers; local, state and federal officials; lobbyists and special interests; and the news media. After a dynamic presentation by Drew Compton, counsel/chief of staff to state Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, on the "push and pull" of enacting legislation, the students broke into committee sessions to debate such hot-button issues as legalization of recreational marijuana. Student participants represented Athens Area High School, Canton Area High School, Jersey Shore Area High School, Lewisburg Area High School, Loyalsock Township High School, Mifflinburg Area High School, Montoursville Area High School, North Rome Christian High School, Northeast Bradford High School, South Williamsport Senior High, St. John Neumann Regional Academy, Troy Area High School and Williamsport Area High School.