March 22, 2015

Youth and Government: Day 1

One of my favorite things that I do at Trinity High School is serve as the advisor for our Youth and Government program.  Youth and Government is a 3-day mock government program at the New Hampshire State House with hundreds of high school students from across the state.  The program is currently in its 67th year and Trinity has had a chapter for 10 years or so.  This is my 8th year (I think) serving as the advisor and I love having the opportunity to have our students engage in civic life, debate the issues, and to be inspired to be more involved in government and politics.

Yesterday was the first day of this year's session and the other two days are April 10 and 11.  Yesterday's event was called the Pre-Legislative session and is really an organizational day where the students elect the governor, speaker, Senate president, Chief Justice and other positions.  They also learn a little about the work they will be doing when we return next month.

What's so amazing is that the kids have complete control over the State House.  We use the House and Senate chambers, the governor's office (not her personal office, just the suite), Supreme Court chambers, etc.  There are 39 states that have Youth and Government programs and not many have that sort of access and we are so very's so New Hampshire.  I know the New Hampshire State House like the back of my hand now, one year we even got to go to the top of the golden dome.

I also enjoy having the opportunity also to catch up with the teachers from the other schools in the program, most of whom are from rural parts of the state.  We are the only Catholic school in the program and the only one from Manchester so it's fun to talk to my public school counterparts and to hear what's going on in their world.  I especially like chatting with a teacher from Littleton, Mr. Pierre Lafitte.  He's actually retired now but he still helps out with athletics and Youth and Government at the school.  He's originally from New York City but he was telling me yesterday that when he was applying for teaching jobs during his senior year of college over 40 years ago, he got a letter completely out of the blue from the Diocese of Manchester asking him to consider teaching at a now closed Catholic school at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Littleton.  He said he has no idea how they got his name!  He was in college in Florida and he was thinking of teaching at a school in Delaware where they offered to pay for his masters degree.  But he thought he'd check out Littleton for the heck of it and when he got there he fell in love with it.  "You could actually breath the air" he laughed.  He had an interview with two priests and after five minutes they said, "So when are you moving up here?"  He said, "What?  I haven't even decided?" "Oh sure you have, sign here" they said.  Ha!  He did sign and he taught at the school for two years before moving to Littleton High School.  He said he doesn't miss New York at all.

We have 18 students taking part from Trinity this year which is a big jump in our numbers from last year.  One year we had about 25 and last year was a transition year as many of our participants had graduated.  This year we are back and I can't wait for the next two days in April.

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