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Fridley Public Schools

Freshman Alexis Bright earns YIG youth leadership scholarship

FHS sophomore and Chief Judge of Court of Appeals Nate Thorp (pictured center, bottom) with fellow YIG specialists and press secretary

The Fridley Youth In Government (YIG) delegation continued the more than 30-year tradition of attending the Model Assembly from January 7-10, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state-wide event was held virtually in Minnesota. The YIG Model Assembly program is a student-led, realistic and complex simulation of state government for 8-12th grade students. 

At Model Assembly, students have the unique opportunity to serve as legislators, judges, attorneys, cabinet members, and media representatives. This engaging learning style allows students to develop civic responsibility, strengthen public speaking skills, listen to delegates with different experiences, debate issues, and be involved in decision-making processes.

Fridley High School (FHS) sophomore Veronique Kolibe-Gnamikou, who was selected to serve as an appointed official in the Court of Appeals, said she enjoyed participating in this year’s YIG Model Assembly. According to Kolibe-Gnamikou, the conference still remained engaging and interactive, despite the all-virtual format.

“Everything was the same, except it was moved online,” she said. “We really did our best to keep the integrity of the whole Model Assembly intact.” In her role, Kolibe-Gnamikou helped to prepare the conference, working with student delegates to provide information, prepare several mock trials, and serve as a judge on the Court of Appeals.

Although the conference was held virtually, there were 15 top elected student officials who attended the Model Assembly in-person. FHS sophomore Nate Thorp served as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, a role that he was elected to during the 2020 YIG assembly.

Thorp said he enjoyed serving in the leadership role and worked long days throughout the event to ensure all aspects were ready for student delegates, including preparing schedules, program areas, and a closing speech to end the ceremony.

Thorp’s favorite part of the conference was watching the growth of fellow students as they continued through the event. “It’s awesome working with delegates from around the state, and seeing how much they improve over the course of the weekend,” said Thorp. “Specifically, students improve in their arguments [when participating in mock trials], gain a better understanding of the legislative process and improve their public speaking skills."

Thorp added that these drastic improvements can be credited to the realistic government simulation that YIG provides. “We really try to emulate the real world and legislative processes,” said Thorp. “This year, I’m glad we could continue to provide a similar experience virtually.”

FHS freshman earns Beth Hidy Memorial Scholarship

In her second year in YIG, FHS freshman Alexis Bright was one of two students who earned the Beth Hidy Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship honors Beth Hidy, a YIG student participant who tragically died in 2015 at age 17 years old. Through YIG, Beth discovered a love for government.  She was known for having high values, and for being a person of honesty and integrity who led by example through hard work and determination.  

Through an application process, Bright wrote a scholarship essay that expressed the impact of YIG in her life. “I’ve been an introvert for most of my life, and YIG has given me the courage to break out of my shell,” said Bright, who added that the organization has introduced her to many new friends and opened doors to new experiences. The $450 annual scholarship that recognizes and encourages youth leadership will fund Bright’s participation in future conferences.

Bright plans to pursue interests in government and criminal justice with the goal of becoming a criminal defense attorney. “Earning this scholarship really means a lot to me,” said Bright. “YIG could give me the opportunities to make a difference, help people for the better, and aid me in achieving my future career goals.”

Bright plans to participate in YIG for years to come. “I definitely recommend YIG to others because it’s such a good learning experience,” she said. Her advice to those who want to participate in YIG is: “Be sure to register early, select a component of YIG that you are interested in, and don’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone!”