Students from across the 53rd Senate District joined online for an in-depth discussion of issues and policy, as part of State Senator Jason Barickmanâ€™s (R-Bloomington) annual Youth Advisory Council program.
â€œEven though large in-person events obviously canâ€™t be held this year, I believe itâ€™s still important to reach out to our students and let their voices be heard by state government,â€ said Barickman. â€œI think these students still made the most of their time together online with some impressive debate on major issues and their own ideas about to help our state.â€
Senator Barickmanâ€™s Youth Advisory Council is annual program that typically brings together dozens of high school students from his district to learn more about how government works, and to put forward their own ideas for new legislation. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Senator decided to move the program online via the Zoom platform.
â€œAs soon as the event started, I had a good feeling about it,â€ said Calvary Christian Academy student Damion Sniff. â€œSenator Barickman brought up good questions that needed to be discussed, and while I would have preferred for the event to be in person, the online setting allowed everyone to explain their opinions without being interrupted.â€
â€œIt was interesting and informative to hear the opinions of students who were our age, instead of only learning about politics from a school setting. It was also fun to go over and learn more about the politicians and positions that run our state,â€ said Watseka High School students Arika Stanley and Jordan Schroeder. â€œOverall, we are very thankful for having the opportunity to participate in something that was both fun and informative.â€
Students from several schools took part in the zoom call on Tuesday, November 10th. They discussed and debated a number of current state issues as well as offering their thoughts on national concerns.
â€œIt always impresses me to hear the studentsâ€™ thoughts and arguments on policy positions. I think we could very well have heard some of the first stump speeches from the next generation of elected leaders,â€ said Barickman. â€œI hope the program has helped to engage them all in the processes of their government and at least set them on the path to becoming well-informed citizens and community leaders.â€
Barickman plans to hold another Youth Advisory Council meeting in the spring. The Senator has offered the program to high school students from his district since 2014.