Local students to take part in WCU’s Youth Congress

About 200 students from Western North Carolina will get a chance to voice their opinions on a variety of local, state and federal government issues, while getting an interactive lesson on the legislative process when they convene in a youth assembly Saturday, March 24, in the Asheville Civic Center Banquet Hall.

The seventh annual American Youth Congress: Youth Legislative Think Tank, organized by Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute, is open to a limited number of students in grades 7 though 12 from public and private schools.

“We want to help the region’s middle and high school students become more aware of local, state and federal issues and the decisions our public officials must make,” said Gordon Mercer, director of the Public Policy Institute. “This is a unique opportunity for students to be heard and to experience the procedure our local governments, N.C. General Assembly and U.S. Congress undergo when considering laws and policies that affect our nation.”

For the first time, a summary of the students’ legislations will be sent to the N.C. General Assembly and the U.S. Congress so that students’ ideas can be utilized in the legislative process, Mercer said.

Participants in the event who have signed up thus far include students from the following schools:

Buncombe County – Enka Middle, Erwin High, North Buncombe High, Orton Academy, Owen High and Roberson High.

Haywood County – Tuscola High.

Henderson County – Hendersonville Middle and North Henderson High.

Madison County – Madison High.

Swain County – Swain Middle.

The Junaluska Leadership Council from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the LBJ Job Corps Student Government Association also will be in attendance.

Additional sponsors of the event include the City of Asheville, Asheville Citizen-Times, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Macon County, Pi Gamma Mu National Honors Society and the WCU political science and public affairs department.

For more information about the American Youth Congress, call the Public Policy Institute at (828) 227-2086.