Look Back ... to Youth Legislature turning 50, 1998

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Mar. 16—March 16, 1948, in The Star: Famous 1930s child star Freddie Bartholomew will appear in a stage production at Anniston High School on the night of March 24. The merry yet touching play "The Hasty Heart" will be presented in one performance only, sponsored by the Anniston Jaycees, with tickets being sold at Couch's Gift Shop and The Soda Bar. Born in England and star of films such as "David Copperfield," "A Yank at Eton" and "Little Lord Fauntleroy," Bartholomew served in the Army Air Forces and is now and American citizen.

March 16, 1998, in The Star: The Alabama YMCA Youth Legislature program turned 50 years old this weekend as past and present members gathered to celebrate years of teaching high school students about how state government works. "What it has done is give thousands of young people with leadership ability an opportunity to develop it," said Don Bryan, who ran the Alabama program for 13 years. Over the decades more than 30,000 students have participated; this year, 500 from high schools and junior high schools were part of it. It was capped off with three days of a mock Legislature that began four days ago. "It's cool. You get to get up there [at the podium] and get into debates about your bills. You learn how the process works," said Anniston 10th-grader Will Downing, son of a Calhoun County commissioner. Former Anniston resident Coke Williams served as the Youth Legislature governor in 1988 and he recalls the personal benefit the teens enjoyed. "It teaches young people to better express themselves," Williams said. "It instills in you that it is OK to express your opinion."