Keystone College hosted Representative Sid Michaels Kavulich’s annual Youth and Government Forum to give local high school students insight into different aspects of government.
For the March 14 event, junior and seniors in government classes at area schools attended forums to learn from experienced officials . Panelists discussed their jobs and the government process ranging from elected officials to the media.
There were two sessions with five different forums, each session lasting approximately one hour. Students were split up and sent to assigned rooms to speak with the panel .
Forums included the Media’s Role in Government, Job Creation and Government Opportunities, the Electoral Process, Optional Educational Opportunities- With the Trades, and an Open Forum. A general session followed, which allowed students a chance to discuss any topic with the full panel.
“It was interesting,” Abington Heights high school student, Elyse Notarianni, said. “There is a lot more to being elected to public office than we thought.”
“There are candidates who put a lot of effort into running and really care a lot about it,” Morgan Palmiter, from Clarks Summit, added. “We didn’t realize how much commitment it takes to go through that process.”
Representative Kavulich and Keystone College’s President, David Coppola spoke before the students split up to their assigned forums in the classrooms of the college’s library.
Each room was set up with one table for the panelists, facing the desks, allowing the panel to directly interact with the students. The rooms were crowded; people were standing, lining the walls and squeezing into the rooms..
The questions poised by the students involved topics such as education, diversity, taxes, passing bills, voting, media, and elections.
“I will never cease to be amazed with how informed the young generation is. There is definitely interest in issues of the commonwealth today,” Rep. Kavulich said. “I enjoy having the ability to get in touch with the young, with high school students.
“There are different panels that offer overall insight into the world of government, but there’s really not a lot of preparation. It’s what we do every day,” he said.
There were approximately 225 people in attendance at the forum this year. According to Kenneth J. Maciak, an organizer of the event, there were about 20 or 30 students from each school and it was preferred that they were in a government class or had an interest in government.
“It is mainly limited to those students because they would have a general idea of what they would want to ask, since they are learning about it in class,” Maciak said.
“These students, they are taking these kinds of classes in school and we get to help bring their education alive,” said Fran Calpin, College Relations Director at Keystone College. “High school students are becoming actively engaged in government and media and at Keystone we love being a part.”