Pineville represents at the KYA

Published 1:40 pm Thursday, November 23, 2017

The area was represented at this year’s Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA) by a group of remarkable Pineville High School students, all of whom were given the opportunity to not only learn more about the bill-making process, but also grow as individuals and experience what happens when they allow their voices to be heard.

“This program honestly brought out the best in me, and made me much more confident in myself as a student. It offers a nurturing environment for students to try something new and stand up for what they believe in,” said Pineville High School senior Jonathan Gambrel regarding the three-day assembly.

Accompanied by English teacher Samantha North, a total of six students from various grade levels attended the prestigious event in Louisville over the weekend, including: Alex Cox, Hannah Daniels, Mikey Long, Garland Ellis, Mike Golden and Jonathan Gambrel.

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Although the group was rather small compared to others in the assembly, that didn’t prevent them from leaving a rather striking first impression, as they were recognized both as a group and individually for their achievements among the conference.

As a whole, their delegation received the Delegation of Excellence award, and two students were even recognized individually for their outspoken intelligence during the process, with Alex Cox awarded the Outstanding Speaker award and Jonathan Gambrel awarded the Outstanding Delegate award. Considering that some schools bring up to 100 students, the fact that the group received three separate honors, despite bringing only six students, speaks volumes for the school system.

“We took a fairly small group compared to most schools, but that didn’t hinder our kids in the least. They were right there on the floor with schools who brought hundreds of kids and made excellent arguments for and against the bills they were passionate about,” said North, who hopes to continue taking students to the assembly in the years to come. “Advisors from other schools commented on how well they did, and I’m incredibly proud of each of them.”

The KYA is a conference hosted by YMCA in which students are given the opportunity to experience first-hand the process that goes into drafting a bill, as students are able to write their own bills, as well as debate on them among other schools. This year, over 1,200 students from 37 schools across the state attended, with this being Pineville High School’s first appearance.

The conference was first brought to the school’s attention by Gambrel, who had participated in it last year at his previous high school. The senior says he didn’t want the school to miss out on the opportunity, as he believes it is a wonderful way for students to make their voice heard and promote leadership.

“When Jon first brought the conference up to me during student council, I thought it was a great idea, and I really appreciate Samantha’s support in making this possible. They represented us so well,” said Pineville Independent Schools Superintendent Russell Thompson. “I just thought it was amazing they were getting the chance to go up there, much less come back with titles. I for one am very impressed with these students.”