MHS students join legislative visit
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
A group of Madison High School students participated in the Madison-DSU Hosts the Legislature event on Tuesday in Pierre, accompanying adults on a visit to the state Capitol.
Amy Shan (left) and Hannah Lynch, seniors at Madison High School, joined other area residents during Tuesday's Madison-DSU Hosts the Legislature event held in Pierre.
The teenagers met with lawmakers and listened to presentations given by the governor and other state officials. Most of the students already had some familiarity with the South Dakota Legislature because as fourth-graders, they had participated in Kathy Satter's state government program at Madison Elementary School.
MHS senior Hannah Lynch, the student body president, said that Satter's program included each student "adopting" a state legislator. When the fourth-graders visited a legislative session as part of their studies, the boys and girls sat with their adopted state senators and representatives on the chamber floors.
According to Lynch, the visits to the Legislature "brought to life" what she had learned in school. Lynch said Tuesday's Pierre trip was an educational experience that she could add to others that started with the District 8 candidate forums -- one of which was held at the high school -- that were conducted before the November general elections.
"I really think that we've learned so much since last October," Lynch said.
Lynch said that she wants to study business after graduating from high school. During the Pierre event, she noticed how much discussion the state officials had among themselves in relation to economic development and business.
Pat Costello of the Governor's Office of Economic Development had given a short presentation to the Madison group and answered several questions afterward.
Class officers and staff of the school newspaper, the Maroon, were among the MHS students visiting the state capital.
Amy Shan, senior and president of the local National Honor Society chapter, described the trip as "an eye-opening experience." Shan had discussions with Reps. Scott Parsley of Madison, Roger Sollum of Watertown and Kathy Tyler of Big Stone City.
According to Shan, she and Tyler discussed a proposal to allow South Dakota schools to establish a "school sentinel program" that would promote school safety. House Bill 1087 would authorize individual schools to establish and supervise the arming of school employees, hired security personnel or volunteers to deter threats and defend schools and their occupants.
HB1087 would leave the decisions up to the schools and would require that the schools cooperate with local law enforcement.
"There's the idea that they would be trained, and I guess a little protection wouldn't hurt," Shan said.
Liam Montgomery and Ryan Kennington, MHS sophomores, had noticed the formalities that the lawmakers took in conducting business while in committee meetings and on the chamber floors. They are also veterans of Satter's government program. Kennington said what he had learned in the elementary school program provided some assistance during Tuesday's visit.
"The things that were going on in the meetings and on the floor...I can say that I was able to understand it a lot better," he said.
Sherif El-Gayar, an MHS freshman who is also on the student council, said he had attended one committee meeting and sat in the galleries in both the House and Senate chambers.
During the Capitol visit, El-Gayar had watched state senators voted on legislation dealing with fraud. El-Gayar said that he would most likely share much of what he had learned on the trip in discussions with other students at MHS.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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