Kearney, NE-- Students were in school on a Sunday and not because they had to be. These students wanted to be there to learn about government and have a chance to meet State Senators.
The idea for the Youth Academy for Democracy came from a Kearney student after he took a judge's comment in a speech tournament to heart.
"The judge wrote on my ballot, 'Do you really feel like your vote matters?' And to me that really struck a cord and so I came to the Buffalo County Youth Advisory Board and I said, 'Hey we should really put together a project where we can get youth on board and learn how they can fit into democracy so that they can feel like their vote really makes a difference,'" said 17-year old Nathan Leach.
Students were thrilled to choose government issues to spend the day learning more about them.
"We talked about major issues affecting Nebraska right now. We had groups of those and you chose what groups you wanted to be in and then after that you talk with some of the Nebraska Senators and discuss with them about your opinion on those issues. You also talk about other issues so it's a great day, you get to give your opinion to your law makers of the state," said 15-year old Will Castner from Sidney.
A lot of students supported the event by coming from near and far to meet Senators Galen Hadley, Mike Gloor, and John Wightman.
"There's students from Sidney, from Omaha, from Kearney, from Grand Island, just everywhere around the state," said Mark Foradori, the Youth Coordinator at the Buffalo County Community Partners.
Despite going to school on a Sunday, students enjoyed the event and came out with advice to other youth.
"The best thing you can do to help advocate youth and people in your area is just get out and become involved in the political process. Just go out and get involved," said 17-year old Connor Russell from Curtis. Russell is also a member of the Youth Advisory Committee.
Caster said, "I'd completely do it again next year. It was such a great experience. It was just amazing. So I would recommend it for anybody who's interested in these issues at all."
Nathan Leach says that reaction is what he hoped for in this academy.
"It's really exciting to see that there's that many youth who are interested in the idea and who got something out of the event," said Leach.