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Mrs. Carr on YIG: 'It All Renews My Faith in the Future'

Mrs. Carr on YIG: 'It All Renews My Faith in the Future'

By Bob Castello
SJCS Communications Manager

St. Joseph's Catholic School, with Mrs. Meby Carr as advisor, began participating in South Carolina Youth in Government in 2002 with 10 students.

Between 2002 and 2022, eight St. Joe's students received the Philip T. Bradley Courageous Leadership Award, the highest given at YIG (including Meby and George Carr's son Klyn, Class of 2011), just two fewer students than had attended that first year.

"Two decades ago, Mrs. Carr asked the Academic Dean at the time and me if she could take 10 students to YIG," said Mr. Keith Kiser, SJCS Head of School. "We reluctantly said yes, worried that it would take away precious classroom time. I'm so glad we did.  That was all Meby needed to begin building a program that has had such a profoundly positive impact on so many of our students over the years.

"Pope Francis has repeatedly called on Christians to establish a culture of encounter through dialogue that seeks understanding and a positive way forward for all. YIG is one place where our students do that, and I couldn't be more pleased."

Mrs. Carr, who is in her 25th year at St. Joe's and serves as History Department Chair, said it's nearly impossible to calculate the number of students who have participated in YIG, but a good guess would be more than 800. As many as 72 have made the journey to Columbia; the average is usually about 55.
 
And indeed, the highlights -- which will continue to grow with the 2023 YIG conference taking place through Friday -- have been many, including:

  • Daniel Beck and James Boman (both '05) arguing that the 10 Commandments should be in government buildings, along with the Code of Hammurabi and the Constitution.
  • Erin Brennan ('05) being the first Supreme Court Justice from St. Joe's.
  • Sally Cade Holmes ('06) being the first SJCS student elected to a YIG office (Secretary of Education).
  • William McClintock and Adam Broering (both '07) controlling debate in the Senate.
  • Mary Grace Carey ('11) receiving the school's first Outstanding Attorney Award.
  • Ishan Lal ('21) being elected the first YIG Governor from St. Joe's.

"Youth in Government is so important to our students and all the students who participate because it is their opportunity to practice democracy in a safe and encouraging environment," Mrs. Carr said. "YIG places a high premium on respectful debate -- debating ideas and not people. Students learn how to formulate ideas, present them, defend them and carry out debate. The legislators also learn how to support their opinions with facts and listen respectfully to ideas contrary to their own. Students in leadership positions really learn how to be leaders among their peers.

"I think it is vital that in today's political climate, young adults learn how to carry out discussions about differing opinions without resorting to personal attacks. Our attorneys learn how to defend both sides of an argument by developing a case based on constitutional facts and interpretations. I see YIG as a step toward creating an involved and knowledgeable citizenry."
 


Along with the Philip T Bradley Courageous Leadership Award, St. Joe's students have won several other awards a number of times, including the:

  • Susan Hitt Outstanding Attorney Award
  • Appeals Team Award
  • Appeals Attorney Award
  • Outstanding Witness Award
  • Excellence in Leadership Award
  • Terry Haskins Christian Leadership Award

St. Joe's also has won numerous Best Bill, Outstanding Statesman and Outstanding Committee Chair Awards, as well as an Outstanding Advisor Award; been designated a Premier Delegation every year and an Outstanding Delegation once.

Along with Governor and Secretary of Education, St. Joe's has had students elected to the positions of Comptroller General, Speaker of the House and Secretary of State.

St. Joe's alumni have returned to YIG to act as judges for trials, and resource staff for YIG, just another reason that makes it such an enjoyable experience for Mrs. Carr.

I get to see the potential these young adults have, and it fills me with hope.

 

"For me personally, I just love it," she said. "I love seeing our students stand up and speak on issues that matter to them. I love watching our students in leadership positions help to direct debate, bring order back to a room and preside over entire chambers of students. I love watching our attorneys field questions from judges, take a breath and continue with their line of argument.

"Everyone grows in confidence. And I love working with St. Joe's alumni who come back to volunteer at YIG as resource staff while they are college students. YIG kids are proud to be YIG kids. It all renews my faith in the future because I get to see the potential these young adults have, and it fills me with hope."

"When schools develop signature programs, it is generally a teacher or coach's passion, commitment and sacrifice over time that make it happen," said Mr. Kiser. "Thankfully our school has several examples of teachers and coaches who have done this, and this is certainly true of Mrs. Carr and YIG at St. Joseph's."

PHOTOS: YIG THROUGH THE YEARS