At Dulaney Youth and Government, civic engagement takes the lead


Lori Ackerman, Staff Writer

In the warm ambience of Ms. Hatter’s room 113 on September 23, Dulaney Youth and Government (YAG) hosted their first meeting. The meeting, attended by about 20 people, was led by seniors Michelle Wang and Jane Cox and received positive reviews. 

“Dulaney’s YAG provides students with opportunities to be more politically active and educated on issues that adults tend to assume we know little about,” one participant said. 

So how did YAG come to be? Cox explained that she was encouraged by Marley Pinsky, the Youth Governor of Maryland, to start a chapter at Dulaney. 

“When she found out I was from Maryland she…heavily tried to recruit me into YAG…I fell in love with the way that YAG works,” said Cox

The process of starting a YAG chapter wasn’t easy. A new club starts from zero: zero members, zero name recognition and zero tradition. 

“For me personally, the biggest challenge was recruitment…I just really wanted a lot of people to join,” Wang said.

That wasn’t the only hurdle Cox and Wang faced. Finding an advisor proved to be difficult: they asked around 20 different teachers – including the entire social studies department – before landing on Hatter.

With an advisor secured, the next big goal of Dulaney YAG is to teach students about the club. YAG is a simulation of state government where students can take on different roles in the creation, advocacy for and review of bills. 

Students can be legislators, who write and debate bills, lobbyists, who throw their support behind bills, judges, who review the constitutionality of bills or press, who simulate news channels that cover the legislative process. 

The YAG conference in Annapolis runs from April 22-24 inside the Maryland State House. Youth Gov. Pinsky added that YAG promotes advocacy outside of this mock conference.

“A lot of people do go on to advocate in their communities,” Pinsky said.

Some students are less enthusiastic about YAG. The Griffin found that 60% of the students surveyed were not interested in joining. However, YAG’s proponents argue that it is essential for promoting civic awareness.

“I feel like the people in our generation…are really not aware of how the government works,” Wang said. 

Cox elaborated on this, citing an experience that rubbed her the wrong way. 

“I overheard people talking about ‘Is there an election this year…Oh there’s a little election.’ And I think the perception of the state government…as little really undermines it…They’re education, they’re police reform, they’re criminalization, they’re morality laws. They are so much of what makes up our society but people ignore it for the grandeur of Trump vs. Biden. YAG is so dedicated to what the state government is in a way that I think our school really needs.”

Youth Gov. Pinsky echoed the sentiment that the club has real-life applications.

“We’re going to be voting soon, so we need to be paying attention now, especially in our local areas. There’s not nearly enough awareness about local politics, especially among young people…It’s important and easy for young people to make change on the local level,” Pinsky said.

Cox said, “Even if you don’t join us…if you’re over 18 or will be over 18 by November 8th, that’s the midterm. Midterms are so important. If you care about any of the massive issues our country is facing right now, the midterm is a big way to go and express your voice. Go and vote if you are over 18!”