A delegation of twenty-five Episcopal students were an energetic force at the Youth Legislature conference that took place from Thursday through Saturday, December 5 - December 7. Juniors Abhay Basireddy and Robert Xing passed a clean energy bill that won recognition as an Outstanding Bill by the State Conference. Xing and Basireddy’s bill, titled "Clean Energy for Louisiana Through Nuclear Power" was one of only a handful to be passed by both legislative chambers at the conference, where roughly four hundred students from throughout the state took part. Senior Joe Patterson and Junior Tucker Harrell saw their bill out of committee and passed by the House of Representatives. Ninth graders Sarah Theriot and Shreya Kamath shepherded their bill out of committee, and Episcopal students worked together as a coordinated “tag team” to support the bill and bring it to within five votes of passage in the House of Representatives.
Every student had a chance to write and debate bills in committee on Thursday night, when roughly 40 Senate bills and 140 House bills were debated by smaller committees of around 20 student legislators each. On Friday, the conference moved from the Holiday Inn to the new State Capitol building, where students discussed and amended bills from the desks of State Representatives and State Senators, giving them a first-hand experience with democracy in action.
On the final day’s plenary session, which combined both the Senate and House chambers, Episcopal students energetically debated several bills, posing constitutional challenges, and enlivening the debate. Hudson Graham, Nick Delahaye, Sean Brooks, Charlie Roth, Adam Azmeh, Robert Xing, Gregory Field, Shreya Kamath, and Matthew Bickham all participated actively in the joint session. Ninth graders Tanvi Dhaka and Mia Pulliam also vigorously defended the constitutionality of their bill when it was challenged in the State Supreme Court, as did junior Adam Azmeh and senior Sean Brooks.
Participation in Youth Legislature at Episcopal has grown from an initial group of just five students in 2016 to twenty-five this year, our largest delegation ever! In February, Episcopal will send a delegation to attend the state Model United Nations Conference, where students will debate global issues.
This year’s delegation included ninth graders Akshay Basireddy, Tanvi Dhaka, Jacob Jones, Shreya Kamath, Carter McLean, Mia Pulliam, and Sarah Theriot; tenth graders Emily Berg and Ellie Williams; eleventh graders Saad Ali, Adam Azmeh, Abhay Basireddy, Matthew Bickham, Nick Delahaye, Gregory Field, Julia Frazer, Fox Garon, Tucker Harrell, Charlie Roth, and Robert Xing; twelfth graders Sean Brooks, Hudson Graham, Hayley Gregoire, Joseph Patterson, and Ryan Whaley.
Edwin Way is an Upper School social studies teacher. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics with high honors from Swarthmore College as well as a Master of Arts in political science and East Asian studies. He grew up overseas living in Egypt, Burkina Faso and Denmark, and worked and taught for a number of years in China. Edwin has taught at both the secondary and university level, and led several groups of college students on study abroad experiences in eastern China.