Youth Congress Day
There's something special about walking into Colorado’s State Capitol building. “The architecture is so beautiful and everything is just so well designed and it just makes you feel like you're really involved,” said Julia Reigrut, a Freshman at Highlands Ranch High School. The building was filled with students on September 25 as high schoolers from Douglas County gathered for the 2017 Youth Congress Day.
“We are here to gather the opinions and the voices of today's youth,” said Parker Councilman Joshua Rivero. “We're writing resolutions on eight topics and hopefully those resolutions will be adopted by one or many different boards and councils.” Among the topics were curfew, truancy, mental health, community service. Students met with leaders from various local governments to learn how to effectively draft a resolution and present it publicly. Discussions and compromise are the order of the day.
The exercise is not just theoretical. “It's wonderful that through a prior youth congress they unified the curfew hours,” recalls Lone Tree Council Member Wynne Shaw. It helped clear the confusion of having different curfews in neighboring towns. Curfew is under the microscope again this year. A group of students is proposing a punishment system that begins with a warning on a first offense.
Some of these students may pursue a career in law or politics. Others are getting a practical lesson about local government. One of the great rewards from an adult’s perspective is seeing students actively involved in the legal process. Rivero said “If you get an engaged teenage student I think you’ve done a pretty good job.”