I did not go expecting much, but not being attuned to this culture (which fact this week has only more securely fixed in my mind...what IS the "hokey-pokey"?) I was not sure what TO expect.
At 12:45, Monday afternoon we walked up the steps to the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building, where (after passing through security) we were greeted by a man in a suit, and directed to our destination.
The rest of the day was spent surveying the ropes, and learning the basics of what would be covered the next two days.
Tuesday morning, we began with singing, a bible study, and a "prayer walk". Then, the leader began a lecture on why he believed in Theistic Evolution. Debate followed, some questions, and a couple students moved into the forefront of the debate. I was confused, because his position contradicted what I had understood of the program, and the position of the founder. The student at the end of my table wrote a note and passed it down, "He doesn't really believe it, he just wants us to debate", which turned out to be the correct analysis. A speech by the Chief of Staff for Judge Marjorie Rendell followed.
We then went out on a field experience, and learned about lobbyists, and walked around the capitol trying to find said specimen of creature, and asking them questions. Lunch next, divided by committees, where we discussed the bills assigned to our committee. (Each student was required to write a bill to present to the legislature)
After lunch was a speech by Representative Sam Rhorer, and then a field experience of examining forms of media, identifying their bias, and analyzing the facts, opinions, and emotions presented in a newspaper article.
Upon re-assembling, we were divided into two political parties, the Party Party, and the Surprise Party, and we formulated party platforms on the issues of Education, the Economy, and whether or not to change the state dog to the Chihuahua, or keep the Great Dane. We then elected two representative candidates, and one gubernatorial candidate.
Following this, was the TeenPact Legislature, where Parlimentary Procedure was strictly followed, and the bills passed by committees were presented to the entire class. Two bills failed, and one passed unanimously. The daily quiz came next, and then we were dismissed.
Wednesday, everyone lobbied the class with cookies, candy, and pamphlets supporting their party, and their candidates, and the daily devil's advocate subject was the "separation of church and state" which evil Johnathan stoutly defended. Field experience consisted of analyzing bills. After lunch, a speech by Mr. Paul Clymer, last field experience (the house and senate) and a slideshow about political campaign disclosures, and gerrymandering, and (of course) the awesome legislature... although the other two committees decided to gang up on our committee, and they passed a resolution making our committee sing and dance the hokey-pokey before the entire class.
Thursday, we had our final quiz immediately after prayer, and the our "Daily DA" (welfare). We then had a game time "Contitutional Power Grab", and then we broke for lunch, finished up all our committie's bills. Legislature was even better than before, in the Majority Caucus rooms (with it's official desk, and gavel), and bills seemed more hilarious than before....but then we had to adjourn singe die. I am sure all the emotional females felt very badly about it, and one girl even put a crying-face on her notes page. Graduation followed, and everyone got a pretty piece of paper stating their achievement and a handshake from all the staff (I got hugs.....from the girls). Then, we all got sharpies, and everyone signed almost everyone else's blue TeenPact logoed shirt. Then, we were all encouraged to come to Alumni events...which I think would be at least as exciting, if not as profitable.
I got to sleep in Friday, and today, we have Grandparent's over!