Wingspan Blog

Wingspan is a collection of blog articles that spotlight the relationships, programs, and values that bring the Brentwood Academy mission to life.

Youth In Government


If you were in downtown Nashville at some point from April 12 to 15, you might have spotted groups of inexplicably well-dressed high-schoolers, walking to the capitol while discussing some political or legal issue. The occasion for this unusual sight was the 2018 YMCA Youth Legislature Volunteer Conference, an annual event that brings hundreds of students from across the State of Tennessee to Nashville to debate, run for office, and have fun with friends. This year was the 65th year for the conference and my fourth and final conference. It certainly did not disappoint. Seventy-three Brentwood Academy students participated this year.

The Governors Cabinet

While the majority of students at YIG write bills to be presented in the House or Senate components, I had the opportunity to serve on the Governor’s Cabinet for the first time this year. Gov Cab is a group of students representing various state government departments who help draft a budget and advise the governor on what bills to support and sign. I was the Commissioner of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, so I researched bills pertaining to this topic and introduced one of my own that would allow Tennesseans with disabilities to request special designation on driver or photo id licenses. This year, many of the Gov Cab members had the opportunity to meet with their real life counterparts. Though my meeting was unfortunately canceled, many students were able to get advice on the ideas we were debating from actual government officials, which added lots of practical insight to our discussions.


What makes Youth Legislature great is more than just the learning experiences we have in our components. This year I also enjoyed getting to spend time with friends in ways I wouldn’t usually, from exploring downtown restaurants to playing cards during the evening dances. Through all the conferences I’ve attended over the past few years, YIG has brought me closer to my classmates and equipped me with skills and knowledge to become a more civic-minded and politically active citizen.

BA Delegation

Sarah Casayoux and Ellis Thompson received an Outstanding Bill Award and Jonah Franks won the award for the Outstanding Governor’s Cabinet Proposal. Willa Stansell received an Outstanding Delegate Award in the Red House, Jackson Peden received an Outstanding Delegate Award in the Blue House, and Sloan Rogers received an Outstanding Delegate Award for her work in the Blue Senate.

BA officers for the conference were: Mary Grace Gower (Blue House Floor Leader), Lauren Pickens (Print Layout Editor), and Jackson Harvey (Blue House Sergeant at Arms). Serving in the Governor’s Cabinet were Anna Bryant as the Commissioner of Intellectual and Development Disabilities and Jonah Franks as the Commissioner of Transportation.

Students who will serve as officers for the 2018 conference include: Lauren Pickens ( Print Layout Editor), Mary Grace Gower (Speaker Pro Tempore of the Red Senate), Cameron Hawkins (Speaker Pro Tempore of the Blue House), Jackson Hoppe (Floor Leader of the Blue House), Jordan Harvey (Red Chief Engrossing Clerk), Jackson Peden (Blue House Floor Leader), and Betsy Spurgeon (Sergeant at Arms for the Senate.)