Members of the Westfield High School Youth and Government Club recently participated in the 81st Annual New Jersey Youth and Government (NJ YAG) Conference, receiving an experiential lesson on civic engagement and responsibility and earning top honors including “Outstanding Delegation.”
The three-day, YMCA-sponsored program provides a legislative simulation that has students acting as state senators, assemblymen, justices, lobbyists, members of the media and other political powerhouses.
“It is essentially a mock state legislature where students debate and vote on bills they have developed for the conference,” says David Della Fera, a WHS English teacher who co-advises the YAG Club with WHS history teacher Daniel Farabaugh. “Our students prepare for months leading up to this conference.”
According to Della Fera, 27 WHS students were among the more than 500 students representing 20+ New Jersey high schools who participated in this year’s conference from April 12-14. Traditionally held in the historic New Jersey State House in Trenton, the conference was relocated this year to the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel due to renovations at the State House.
The honors awarded the WHS delegation included:
- Seniors Austin Chen and Justin Joseph and Junior Annie Cerria served as officers for this year's conference. They spent nearly a year helping to organize and eventually run the conference
- The WHS Delegation was given an award for Outstanding Delegation.
- Sophomore Kailey Zhao received an award for Outstanding Legislation and was elected to an Officer position for next year's conference.
- Freshman Justin Anderson was elected to an Officer position for next year's conference.
- Freshman Samara Useloff was awarded Outstanding First Year Delegate.
- Senior Mark Johnson was awarded Outstanding Lobbyist.
- Junior Margaret Maguire was awarded Outstanding Press Member.Juniors Morgan Rollins, Madeline Stack, and Grace Hutchinson were given an award for Outstanding Judicial Brief.
- Junior Margaret Maguire and Senior Alexander McGrail were selected to attend the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) in North Carolina this summer. Seniors Justin Joseph, Austin Chen, Nicolas Guerriero, Junior Greta McLaughlin, and Sophomore Kailey Zhao were selected as alternates for the conference.