Youth and government students, advisers shine at annual statewide conferences

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 11, 2021

The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina’s group earn adviser of the year, elections to top YAG positions and more

WINSTON-SALEM — The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina’s Youth & Government delegations swept the awards and recognitions at the Virtual Youth & Government Conferences. Students from these delegations were elected to a large majority of statewide offices, and the YMCA of NWNC’s YAG advisor received top honors.

Youth & Government is a college and career prep program offered from the Y that teaches high schoolers about the governmental process. Youth & Government, or YAG, addresses the growing gap in civic education and participation among socioeconomic, race and gender groups.

“These students have worked incredibly hard all school year with guidance from knowledgeable Y staff,” said Kim McClure, vice president of youth development, sports and aquatics at the YMCA of NWNC. “Their diligence is reflected in the outcome of this year’s conference.”

Rain Thoresen, a college and career director for the YMCA of NWNC, was named adviser of the year at the conference.

I am so proud of Rain and the work she is doing for our association and all of the schools we serve,” McClure said.

Students from the YMCA of NWNC were elected to governor and lieutenant governor, as well as chief justice, attorney general, and more. Eleven students from the YMCA of NWNC overall were elected, reflecting the majority of the 19 offices.

Below is a list of the students and the positions they were elected to for the 2021-22 school year:

• Youth governor — William Burns (Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem)

• Lieutenant governor — Olivia-Beth Vaughan (Calvary Day School in Winston-Salem)

• Chief justice — Whitt Buresh (Reagan High School in Pfafftown)

• Attorney general — Saanvi Pawa (Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville)

• District attorney — Gwendolyn Petty (West Forsyth High School in Clemmons)

• Presiding officer — Fletcher Wachtel (Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem)

• Presiding officer — Anna McPherson (Calvary Day School in Winston-Salem)

• Presiding officer — Mary Grace Hicks (Calvary Day School Winston-Salem

• Presiding officer — Mitchell Anderson (Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville)

• Presiding Officer — Mary Foster (RJ Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem)

• Associate justice — Julia Kincaid (Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville)

“I am really proud of all our Youth & Government students and thankful to all who made our virtual conferences such an incredible experience,” Thoresen said.

Overall awards

• Student delegation leader of the year — Carolina Rocha Lima (Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville)

• Adviser of the year — Rain Thoresen (YMCA of Northwest North Carolina)

• Erica Wolfe Award — Cole Pollock (Early College of Forsyth in Winston-Salem)

• Alumni Scholarship Award — Kevin Vasquez (Early College of Forsyth in Winston-Salem)

Students served in other areas, including mock trial and media, and performed well in other areas of the virtual conference.

Mock trial

• Our model witness — Madeline Pollock  (Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville)

Court of appeals

• Our model attorney team case 1

• Katie Meine and Julia Kincaid (Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville)

Media

Model media delegate

• Richard Tao (Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville)

Legislative

• Model lobbyist — Jenna Ghosthorse (tie) (RJ Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem)

• Model youth legislator (Senate) — Joah Macosko (Reagan High School in Pfafftown)

The annual YAG Conference is typically held in Raleigh in February, where delegations from Ys across the state meet for a four-day conference with a mock government simulation. Students are able to serve as lobbyists, budget analysts, media members or as a representative in one of the three U.S. branches of government.

But due to COVID-19, the conference went virtual the weekends of Feb. 12-14 and Feb. 19-21 for the legislative and judicial conferences, respectively. The virtual conferences even included a welcome message from Gov. Roy Cooper to the students at both conferences.

YAG at the YMCA of NWNC typically has nearly 400 participants across 13 schools in Forsyth, Stokes, Davie, Yadkin and Iredell counties. YAG went entirely virtual for the 2020-21 school year for the first time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.