Our Youth in Government (YIG) club completed another annual conference in Columbia, South Carolina, this past weekend. This conference was GSSM's most successful one yet. GSSM had 25 students participating, which was significant for our school, but we were still one of the smallest delegations at the conference of more than 1,600 students.
To start, GSSM received the Premier Delegation Award for overall excellence. Although everyone shares the honor, we feel that we must spotlight the club leadership of Sophie Walrad, who has worked relentlessly preparing our students in all facets. She made sure students submitted paperwork and bills, coached them on all YIG events, and was the go-to person during the conference while serving on Leadership Staff.
The next award goes to our Mock Trial team winning first place. It was Sophie's idea to field a team this year, which GSSM does not usually do at YIG. Our team of Lili Fonteneau, Maura Hilbourn, Zeke McDavid, Randi Jennings, and Grace Lindsay faced numerous teams who traveled with their trial coaches and legal experts. Still, our team's focus, creativity, brains, and hard work won them top honors. Zeke McDavid won the Mock Trial Award for Outstanding Witness. The Mock Trial Team now has the chance to compete at a national level during the summer at the University of Chicago.
Christian Dunlap received The Fritz Hollings Memorial Award, a new YIG award that goes to one deserving conference student showing exemplary character, performance, and leadership. This award was named in honor of the South Carolina Governor and U.S. Senator, who died in April 2019. Hollings had served in the Senate from 1966-2005. Christian's award includes an intercollegiate scholarship from the Hollings family and Citadel University.
Christian Dunlap and his bill partner, Rajath Sivankoil, also won the Outstanding Bill Award for their House Bill 105, An Act to Provide Justice in Campus Sexual Assaults. This is the second consecutive year that Christian has won this award.
Thanks to our passionate and hardworking bill teams Christian Dunlap/Rajath Sivankoil; Evan Ackerman/Elijah Jordan; Lucia Brown/Caroline Strinsky; Charles Shaughnessy/Lydia Flackett; Colyn Morris/Andrew Sherburne; Oliver Rancu/Eileen Lundbland; Rita Alan/Breckin Muzzy. Because of these teams, all of our bills passed and were signed into law.
Patricio Ortiz, the YIG Governor, started the conference with a very emotional speech about his family's courage and persistence, and he provided fantastic leadership at the conference. The final ceremony spotlighted his contributions with vocal and video tributes, and the YIG director described him as, "the most enthusiastic person I have ever met."
Last but not least, GSSM seniors Sam Torlay and Saif Ali returned to the conference to serve as effective lobbyists, and seniors Sahil Monga and Daniel Tedeschi worked hard on Appeals Court receiving praise from judges and other teams for their responses.
Help us in wishing a huge congratulations to these incredible Govies. Their countless hours of hard work were awarded in many ways this past weekend.