KYA 2022


Sherri McPherson

Y-club members holding the awards and certificates they received at the Kentucky Youth Assembly 2022.

The Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA), according to the YMCA, is “an expanded, educational opportunity in which students serve as a part of a model state government.” The YMCA holds four high school conference weekends in November and December. Students travel to the capitol during one of these weekends to present and debate mock bills they have written up over the semester. Lafayette has their own Student Y, where students interested in government and debate participate in conferences like KYA. Lafayette’s Student Y attended the KYA conference a few weekends ago. They presented multiple bills to be debated at the conference.

KYA is different from Student Government and Model United Nations because at KYA, you debate bills that are directly related to Kentucky and the state government. Student government, on the other hand, is defined as, “the organization and management of student life led by various organizations.” Student government is responsible for student activities such as dances and pep rallies rather than being a club centered around topics like debate and government. Student Government is more based on the social aspect of high school life than Student Y is.

Model United Nations is “a simulation of the United Nations General Assembly and its other multicultural bodies where students perform an ambassador role while debating worldly topics.” In a Model UN club, students talk about world issues and topics rather than topics that only affect their community. The YMCA holds a conference later in the year which simulates a United Nations meeting. The Kentucky United Nations Assembly allows Lafayette students to have a Model UN-like experience since there is not a Model UN club at the school. Student Y usually attends this conference as well.

We interviewed Eva Alcaraz-Monje, a sophomore writer for the Lafayette Times who recently attended their first KYA conference. In the interview, they spoke about how joining Student Y was not intentional. They had extra time after school one day and saw that they were holding a meeting. They decided to attend and have been a member ever since. Although they don’t plan to pursue a career in government or politics later in life, they still thoroughly enjoy attending club meetings and conferences. At this year’s Kentucky Youth Assembly, Eva and a few others from the club wrote a bill that was presented at the assembly. Their bill was on whether or not minors (people under 18) should be able to be tried as adults in court for non-violent crimes. This is one example of the type of bills written for the conference. Eva told the Times about the process of writing the bill. They talked about how they had to research many facts about their subject so that they could write the bill itself and speeches and possible responses to questions they may receive.

Eva also spoke about the social aspect of the bill. They told The Times that during the conference, they were constantly putting themselves into possibly awkward situations with people they had never met before. Though they didn’t speak about this part of the conference with disdain, they said that it helped them to push their boundaries to try things they wouldn’t normally try and meet people they wouldn’t have normally had the opportunity to meet.

KYA and the other assemblies like it are excellent opportunities for students to research and debate topics they care about, even if they do not plan to pursue a career in debate or politics. If things like this sound interesting, stop by room 212 on Thursday for the Student Y holiday party on December 15.