Behind the Legislative Curtain

Program for homeschooled teens offers first-hand look at how state government works

Behind the Legislative Curtain

Zetta Louis, reporter

During COVID people gained a better understanding of just how much power the government can have over their lives, which has sparked an interest in local governments. This winter, a select few Idaho homeschooled teens will get a chance to have a first-hand look at how government works by participating in the Capstone Student Legislature Program.

The Capstone Program is an interactive, one-of-a-kind experience for homeschoolers. The program, held downtown in the LB Jordan Building, is designed for teenagers from the age 13 to 18 and takes place during the last week of January.

“Capstone is a great program for students who want to explore how government works beyond just what they read in a textbook. Actually, writing and debating a bill make the process real to students,” Capstone Administrator Mellissa Nash said.

To prepare for the week, homework is assigned in October. During the week, students will get to experience firsthand how to write and pass legislation thru committees and floor session, they could potentially run for office, learn about government finances, and much more. Each day will include personal contact and interaction with the governor, supreme court justices, attorney general, and many other speakers.

“I would recommend this program to future students because they learn about how the Idaho government works and it makes them aware of the legislative process,” said four-time Capstone alum Jack Nelson. “Many capstone alumni, including my brother, went on to page at the Idaho House or Senate, and a few even went on to pursue careers in government.”

There are 44 openings in the program with students chosen by a committee that selects students it thinks are most interested in the program based of answers on their application. Each year the total cost to attend the four days is $100 with a $20 discount for returning students who apply before June 30.

Students can participate in the program more than once. The alumni will not get all the opportunities the new students get, but they do get to come back the following year to learn how to form supreme court arguments on topics that have a five-year rotation. The deadline to apply is June 30 for the students interested in the program. For more information or to apply for the 2024 session, visit