AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — More than 150 students from across Maine have been participating since Thursday in the YMCA of Maine Youth in Government program.
This mock government experience puts students in charge of the Maine State House for the weekend.
“We all get together, we propose pieces of legislation, we fight for what we believe in," mock Gov. Sydney McDonald said. "We try to show what we care about to the real legislature and to the rest of the nation."
All the leadership is elected. The students work on a wide range of big issues, those they think will help Mainers.
“Some of my bill package includes requiring body cameras for use on law enforcement officers … de-legalizing the use of conversion therapy by licensed Maine care providers [and] also installing a sexual consent unit into all Maine public schools,” McDonald said.
Students debated bills in both the House and Senate chambers and had a full-on gubernatorial debate.
What stuck out in some students' minds was how young leaders like themselves can bring people together after a divisive presidential election.
“I think how we bring people together is to realize we have that division," mock Sen. Oliva Paruk said. "What this election has shown is there's a lot of people that are super passionate about America."
Over the course of the weekend, 93 bills will be debated. Some will pass and others will not, but the notion of uniting a divided nation is also on some of these young leaders minds — as they continue to learn the ins and outs of government, but also how to respect one another’s views and move forward in a positive way.
“It's very important that we come together no matter whether you're a Democrat, Republican, an Independent, a Green Party a Tea Party, we all have to come together to make these four years work as best as we can," mock President of the Senate Mallory Burchill said. "We have to unite, we have to stay strong together, we have to stay united. I mean, after all, we are the United States of America."