The Hancock Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) High School Program Class of 2014 spent their most recent session learning about local governments in the area by visiting with elected officials in Hancock County and its three municipalities and learning important lessons regarding congressional politics.
The 2014 HYLA High School Class is comprised of 24 eleventh graders from Hancock County who represent all four area high schools and the homeschooled community. On Wednesday, March 26th, the high school leaders embarked on their third session, sponsored by Mississippi Power Company, by meeting with Mayor Les Fillingame at Bay St. Louis City Hall and then with Hancock County officials in the new Annex Building. The students interacted there with Supervisor Lisa Cowand, Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar, Tax Assessor Jimmie Ladner, and Circuit Clerk Karen Ruhr. Waveland City Hall was next on the tour, where the young leaders were greeted by Fire Chief Mike Smith and Waveland Police Department investigators David Buckley and Matt Sekinger. Students then met the mayor of Hancock County’s newest city: Diamondhead. Tommy Schafer, who took time away from his own session of Leadership Hancock County that was meeting the same day, came to HRC offices to talk with the young leaders about the joys and challenges of leading a newly incorporated city.
HYLA students were then immersed in an active learning process conducted by Tyson Elbert, research associate at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development at Mississippi State University. Mr. Elbert engaged the young leaders in a simulation of the congressional election process. By using this simulation, the students gained a solid understanding of how congressional elections are conducted and of what determines who wins and loses these contests. By "playing along" with the election, they learned to choose among different strategic options for the campaigns, affording them the opportunity to understand the complexities of the election process and how decisions made throughout the course of the term ultimately affect the next election’s outcome. At the end of the process, students anxiously awaited election results to find out if their candidate would be heading back to Washington or remaining in their home district.
After visiting the Mississippi State Capitol last month, HYLA students further enhanced their knowledge this session of how government works on the local, state, and national levels and increased their understanding of how the political process affects decision making in the various contexts.
The Hancock Youth Leadership Academy is the first and only county-wide youth leadership program in Hancock County. It was made possible thanks to an initial seed grant from NeighborWorks America and matching funds from The First, A National Banking Association. Moving forward, local community sponsorships are needed. Please consider sponsoring a session or making a general donation to support the ongoing operation of the Hancock Youth Leadership Academy. Invest in Hancock County’s future by cultivating its next generation of leaders: visit www.hancockhrc.org or call 228-463-8887 to learn how.