Two Utah high school students will find out in the next few days how it feels to be Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd, D-W.V., or Majority Whip Alan Cranston, D-Calif.
They will play the role of those two powerful lawmakers during a mock legislature involving 350 students from all over the nation sponsored by the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, a private, non-profit organization.Paul Boice, a senior at Box Elder High School in Brigham City, will have the role of majority leader. Ryan Stratford, a senior at Ogden High School, will be the majority whip.
"We will be debating a drug bill. Our side will be pushing for routine, but not mandatory, drug testing," Boice said.
Stratford said, "The council assigned us the roles. They divided the students up into two parties and assigned some as lobbyists representing different companies. They try to make it as near the real process as possible."
He added, "We will be pushing for some viewpoints that we don't necessarily agree with. It will be interesting."
The mock legislature is one facet of a six-day National Young Leaders Conference. Other activities include meeting with officials to spend a day each discussing Congress, the executive branch, the judiciary, the media and foreign affairs.
"I've been able to learn more about government the last few days than in all my work in school," Boice said.
Stratford said, "We are able to probe questions with people who are actually making the decisions every day in the government. It's not like just listening to teachers talk about it."
The youth leadership council invites thousands of students each year to travel and participate in its conferences. Students are chosen based on their grades or recommendations from their principals.