by Allison Delgado
Since 1992, the middle of February has stirred many observations for the local residents of Raleigh, North Carolina: a glimpse into the rapid fluctuations between cold and colder weather, grocery stores overflowing with bountiful flower bouquets and countless chocolate assortments, and the sound of hundreds of suitcases rolling over jagged stone walkways.
This year, at the 31st Youth and Government conference, these suitcases belong to nearly 700 students from high schools across the state. With a record number of students assembling together, it can be exciting to hear how they were initially introduced to the club, and which factors they considered when making the final decision to register.
Gordon Grabs, a student from West Stokes High School, attributes her reason for first getting into the club to her family. “My siblings were involved in it. I’m one of seven,” she said. 2023 marks Gordon’s second year as a YAG participant, and her transition from freshman forum to photography in the media branch. With these two years of experience, she easily attested to the support she found within and outside the club, from members of her family to strangers turned colleagues. “With the experience that...the people that I live with have had with YAG and my advisor, it’s a very supporting system,” Grabs said.
Rather than a family member, other students at YAG found their own catalysts for achieving this network of support in the words shared by friends to counselors.
M. Bailey C. Dean from the Garner Road Community Center heard about YAG from a friend and their counselor, respectively: “It’s... something fun and interesting to do with your free time, so I decided to join in,” said Dean when asked why he joined following his friend’s recommendation.
C. Dean, on his end, was intrigued by the possibility of furthering his understanding of the legal system and its inner-workings. He found that “learning more about the law...getting more knowledge in here and meeting new people,” led him to become interested in the club after he heard about it from his counselor.
While all three delegates first heard about YAG from different people, they all shared the same surprise about the number of people who arrived at this year’s conference. Each delegate at the 31st Youth and Government conference maintained their motivation to join over the course of months, diligently working to hone their goals into the tangible excellence we see today.