Jewel Aho

Grade: Senior.

Age: 18.

Art focus: Brainerd High School Youth In Government.

Adviser nomination: “Jewel has been attending Youth In Government meetings for a few years but due to sports and illnesses this is the first conference she has been able to attend. Jewel has been helpful when it comes to volunteering for recruiting activities as well as assisting in organizing meetings and helping with various tasks at the high school. During the Model Assembly conference, Jewel pushed herself outside of her comfort zone to ask questions during bill debates and she was quick on her feet with responses when asked questions by other delegates.”

About Youth In Government: The program meets twice a month to get ready for the state conferences offered through Minnesota YMCA Youth In Government. Model Assembly is a weekend when students in eighth through 12th grade simulate Minnesota state government. In this assembly, every student writes a bill to present. Students work on the bill during the meetings, as well as practice presenting the bill and debating it. Students in ninth and 10th grade stay at the Minneapolis Hilton for all of their meetings during the day. The 11th-12th graders go to the Capitol where they meet as legislative branches.

Memorable fine arts achievement: “Being named Fine Arts Student of the Week and getting my (Youth In Government) bill signed.”

Most admired: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is running for president.

Other fine arts activities: Choir.

Why did you join Youth in Government? “Government and politics have always been interesting to me and my grandpa is John Ward, a former state representative. My mom is involved in Youth In Government, so I’ve always been around it. I have been listening to my grandpa and my mom talk about it (growing up) and it has always been very interesting to me, listening to all the issues. I have opinions on most of the issues and it’s nice to share these in a safe, respectable way with my peers.

“I’ve been going to (Youth In Government) meetings since ninth grade and listening to the upper classmates talk about it, but I had basketball games and stuff so couldn’t go to the conference until this year.”

Your strongest skills: “Knowing about the issues, I feel I am well versed in the issues.”

What bill did you present this year? “My bill was to make all companies that produce feminine products, like tampons, to put all the ingredients on the label, because right now they don’t have to do that. (I came up with this idea) after I saw all these ads on Instagram and other stuff I looked at and it would say feminine companies don't have to do this. When a company listed the ingredients it would make sure it said they did on its ads as the company didn't have to list the ingredients. I thought it was kind of weird that they don’t have to. I researched it and they have a lot of chemicals and bad stuff in them, so I decided to write a bill on it.

“... It passed in the House and the Senate and … then it went on the consent calendar, which is a list of all the bills most likely to pass without any real debate because they are common sense bills. I feel people have the right to know what they are using on their bodies, this is common sense.”

How has this activity helped you? “It has helped me think on my feet quicker, as sometimes you are not prepared for the questions they may ask. You have to think of questions they may ask beforehand. It also has made me more comfortable with expressing my opinion with my peers.”

Any weaknesses? “I get nervous, or like anxious when I talk in front of a lot of people that I don't know. In the House, there were about 100 or so kids I didn’t know. I still tried to put my opinion out there (even though I was nervous).”

After high school plans: “I plan to go to NDSU (North Dakota State University) and get a math degree. … I heard NASA was hiring mathematicians and that would be really cool.”

Athlete you admire: “I really admire Serena Williams because she works so hard.”

Political thought: “When I was watching the last presidential debate it surprised me that Joe Biden is not a good public speaker, but I think he is smart. He is just not a good political speaker.”

Favorite movie: “The Help” or “Jojo Rabbit.”

Favorite TV show: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

Favorite book: “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.”

Favorite song: “Great Fairy’s Fountain.”

Favorite band: The Beatles.

Favorite restaurant: “Cold Stone (Creamery). My favorite ice cream is the birthday cake.”

Favorite subject: Mathematics.

Biggest pet peeve: “When people chew with their mouth open and slow walkers in the hallway.”

Clubs: Interact and WeARE Youth Advisory Council.

Sports: Weightlifting, basketball and softball.

Hobbies: Reading, drawing and playing video games.

Parents: Amy Aho of Baxter and Mike Aho of Pillager.



JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at jennifer.kraus@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.