Minisink Valley hosted the 2023 Amy Bull Crist Youth-In-Government Program today, Oct. 20, which offers students the chance to learn first-hand about the democratic process.
Thirteen school districts, including Minisink Valley, sent student groups to participate in the gathering, inspired by Katherine St. George, former Orange County Republican Committee chairperson and member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
While addressing an Orange County Hi-Y Assembly in 1942, Mrs. St. George noted she “found people well acquainted with national politics but woefully lacking in an understanding of how their local town and county governments functioned” and appealed for a greater interest in local government.”
In 1944, the Youth-in-Government program was inaugurated through the guidance of Amy Bull Crist, then Orange County superintendent of schools, for whom the organization is named.
Guided by Mrs. St. George’s vision and Mrs. Crist’s devotion, students participate in mock conventions, student-run elections, and also shadow elected officials from the local to national levels of government.
Students engage at a very real political party level at the Platform Convention for Youth-in-Government. By making “planks” for committees based on economics, foreign policy, social issues, environmental, New York, and Orange County and debating them against other delegates in committee, students gain valuable life skills applicable beyond the classroom setting.
Each party’s platform is broken down into “planks,” or declarations that speak to each specific issue. Party platforms and their planks are important to the electoral process: They give the candidates a clear political position with which they can campaign.
County Service Day is the culmination of many students’ endless hours of work toward the goal of a better understanding of government processes.
Ezra Clementson, the high school’s Youth-in-Government Club advisor, stressed there’s no other county in New York State where there’s a program as long standing and encompassing as Orange County’s Amy Bull Crist Youth-In-Government program.
2023 participating school districts
- Highland Falls
- Minisink Valley
- Pine Bush
- Port Jervis
- Valley Central
- Warwick Valley