Happy Friday! Hopefully everyone enjoyed their week and are excited about the weekend ahead! We have extended our Constitution Day Fundraiser until October 4th, and you can learn about the fundraiser and donate here. See below for an introduction to our Photojournalism Editor Riley Wheaton ’20 and Lieutenant Governor Alexander Searles ’20.
Photojournalism Editor Riley Wheaton ’20
How long have you been participating in YG? 2 years.
What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to help media become more integrated with the YG community and environment!
What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory occurred last year when I helped my peers pioneer Photojournalism as a new event at last year’s State Conference.
How has YG impacted you? YG has helped me network and find individuals across the state with similar passions to my own. YG will always hold a special place in my heart as I continue to learn more about our government, culture, and media and grow more as an individual.
What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? As a media officer, the U.S. Constitution is especially important to me because it protects the freedom of the press in the Bill of Rights under the First Amendment. The amendment allows people to speak their minds and report information without suppression and share their ideas freely.
Lieutenant Governor Alexander Searles ’20
How long have you been participating in YG? 7 years.
What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am most excited to be finishing off my YG career with chairing the Senate.
What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory in YG is the experience I had at the campfire ceremony at the 2019 CONA.
How has YG impacted you? YG has impacted me by giving me a more diverse view on politics, as well as drastically improving my public speaking skills. The thing that will stick with me the most is the knowledge that every person has a different political view, and that those views should not be used to judge or discriminate against the person.
What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? The U.S. Constitution means to me that the American people will never need to be in fear of their rights being taken away, and that everyone has certain unalienable rights that should be protected at all costs. The document is important because it represents the struggle of the American people to strive toward that goal of true equality of all people, and to be the world’s fighting force for peace and democracy.
National Voter Registration Day is celebrated on the 4th Tuesday of September, which falls on September 24 this year! In addition to National Voter Registration Day, the week of September 23-27 is High School Voter Registration Week. Texas YG teaches students about civic engagement, which includes voting. Therefore, we want to remind our high school students that if they are currently 17 years and 10 months old and will be 18 by Election Day, then they can register to vote today!
You may think that it isn’t that important to vote this year. The next presidential election isn’t until 2020 and there are no legislative races. However, it is important to vote every year, especially in elections focused on state or local issues. The decisions that your city council or the state government make will have more of a direct impact on you than policies passed at the federal level. This year’s ballot will include 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. The League of Women Voters in Texas list out and explain the proposed amendments and list out pros and cons on each issue.
The League of Women Voters in Texas also offers great information about elections in general and will help you create a personalized voting guide and find your polling place! You can find that resource here. In addition, be sure to visit the National Voter Registration Day website when you are ready to register. The website will help start the process.
And just a reminder, we are still in the middle of our Constitution Day Fundraise and have actually extended the fundraiser to October 4th. The U.S. Constitution protects our right to vote and allows us to participate in our country’s democratic system. In addition to registering to vote, be sure to celebrate National Voter Registration Day by donating to our fundraiser!
As we said in the beginning of the week, we talked to our officers and asked them about what the U.S. Constitution means to them. We received some thoughtful and incredible responses and we will continue to share them with you throughout our Constitution Day Fundraiser. Read about our Chief Justice Sebastiane Caballes ’20 and our State Affairs Form Chair Nikash Harapanahalli ’20. And be sure to check out our donate page here to see how you contribute to our program!
Chief Justice Sebastiane Caballes ’20
How long have you been participating in YG? 5 years.
What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to make new memories.
What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory in YG is when I was campaigning for Chief Justice. I had so much support from the friends I have in the program and was able to meet so many new delegates throughout the process. It is something that I will always look back on fondly.
How has YG impacted you? YG has pushed me to understand and apply different methods of leadership. The program has so many different facets from being an attorney, a legislator, to leading a club. What sticks to me the most from YG is the people that I have met. Their unique stories and views open my eyes to new perspectives.
What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? To me, the U.S. Constitution represents the essence of American values. We are unlike any other nation in that we are not a country founded by a single ethnic or cultural group. The U.S. Constitution does not discriminate based on the color of your skin or the religion you practice, it protects all Americans equally under the law. It is this idea of equality under the law that resonates with me the most. Our nation was built upon the idea that discourse would not divide America, it would unite us. Just because not all Americans share the same political views or beliefs does not mean that one group is right and the other is wrong. Rather, it is this diversity in ideas and people that strengthen and makes America great. The U.S. Constitution stands as a stalwart against authoritarian regimes across the world and represents the freedom and liberty that we hold dear in the United States.
State Affairs Form Chair Nikash Harapanahalli ’20
How long have you been participating in YG? 6 years.
What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to be able to make change at the state level!
What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory in YG is when I face-planted as I ran to get my proponent slip in for a bill in Joint Session at the State Conference.
How has YG impacted you? YG is without a doubt a foundation of my modern sense of what civic and national duty are. YG’s emphasis on collaboration, servant leadership, and democratic participation have redefined what being a patriot is to me. Furthermore, the communication skills that I picked up have reinforced notions that through open dialogue, our mutual understanding of global citizenship can be rejuvenated and extended.
What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? The U.S. Constitution is by no means perfect, but it has provided all people yearning for equity, freedom, and democracy a functional template from which to forge a new form of state. The U.S. Constitution reimagined statecraft and has set the foundation for the current notions of liberal democracy. It has laid precedent that synthesizes humanity with governance by affording equity to everyone born on American soil. That combination is at the heart of the U.S. Constitution – applying our empathy to all human beings through a compassionate state. This does not mean that the U.S. Constitution calls for the imparting of morals, beliefs, or religious ideals onto a population but rather that Americans are called to see the world through a compassionate lens. The U.S. Constitution’s emphasis on inalienable fraternity between all is something I will always carry with me because it inspires a social consciousness that only seeks to improve the world around it.
Happy Constitution Day everyone! The U.S. Constitution turns 232 years today and what better way to celebrate than donating to our Constitution Day fundraiser? You can donate anytime at this link here.
On May 25, 1787, delegates from all thirteen states gathered to form the Constitutional Convention and to discuss creating a new form of government. James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, wrote a draft that he proposed at the beginning of the convention. The men of the convention would then spend the next four months debating over the document and making edits to it. And then, on September 15, 1787, a final version was agreed upon and Jacob Shallus wrote out the final product.
Then on this day in 1787, thirty nine delegates from the Constitutional Convention gathered at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. Starting with George Washington, they gathered in a line and signed a new and revolutionary document that would determine the structure of the American government. The U.S. Constitution was then submitted to the states for ratification. It wasn’t until nearly a year later, on June 21, 1788, that New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, making the document official and valid.
Some people thought the U.S. Constitution may only last 100 or 150 years. However, 232 years later it is still the backbone of our democracy. We asked our students what they thought about the U.S. Constitution and have been posting some of their responses which you can see in our recent blog posts. Below, you can see a fun fact about the U.S. Constitution that was given to us by a student. Be sure to contribute to our fundraiser and enjoy your Constitution Day!
“Jacob Shallus, the man that was paid to write the official copy of the U.S. Constitution, was paid $30.00 for his services. Today, that translates to $810.81.” – Charis Maxwell ’20, Fort Worth District
We asked our new officers for the 2019-2020 program year what they thought of the U.S. Constitution. Over the next couple of weeks, we will share those answers with you, as well as some other fun information about our officers! Below you can read about Attorney General London Jones ’21 and Broadcast Producer Amy Ekechukwu ’20. And don’t forget to go here to donate to our fundraiser!
Attorney General London Jones ’21
How long have you been participating in YG? 3 years.
What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am most excited to lead the judicial section and change some things for the better. This upcoming year will be my junior year, and my first year in a leadership position and I hope to make the best of it!
What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite YG memory would have to be this past state conference. It was a very different experience to attend the conference as a candidate versus one of the trial court attorneys. I loved campaigning, meeting new people, and getting my name out there. It was hard work, but in the end it was worth it.
How has YG impacted you? YG has impacted me in so many different ways. It has opened me up to so many different people, encouraged me to think beyond myself, and take part in a competitive but loving environment alongside individuals with similar interests. I know getting involved with government policy at such a young age will help shape me into an adult who is very aware of the world we live in.
What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? Given that I am African American, my ancestors were slaves. When the U.S. Constitution was made, nothing in it paid any regard to my people, women, or anyone who wasn’t a white male land-owner. Even with this troubled past, America took measures to improve itself. The U.S. Constitution means to me that America is continuing to hold itself up to a higher standard than ever before and living up to the name “Land of the Free.”
Broadcast Producer Amy Ekechukwu ’20
How long have you participated in YG? 2 years.
What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to work with the delegates and help them become better writers.
What is your favorite YG memory? Being able to experience the world of broadcasting.
How has YG impacted you? I love that YG has good core values to go along with the program’s name. I also love how it allows kids to express themselves in a creative manner.
What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? The U.S. Constitution is important because it sets aside a list of laws for citizen’s safety (The Bill of Rights). Without these set of rules, we wouldn’t have a safe place to call home.
As we said in our previous post, the U.S. Constitution is important to Texas Youth and Government for a wide variety of reasons. It lays out the framework for the program’s government and allows our media students to execerise their First Amendment rights.
We asked some of our student leaders to reflect on what the U.S. Constitution means to them. See below for their responses and don’t forget to donate here to our fundraiser!
“God give, hand written, and people driven.”
I believe this saying encompasses the essence of the Constitution. At it’s core, the constituting document of our great nation is a series of God granted rights that every human should have. Secondly, it was conceived and written by great leaders who used their knowledge of history to solve future issues. Lastly, the Constitution is not a tool of government to control the people, but a tool ordained by the people to protect the people from the government. – Griffin ’21, Fort Worth District
Our Founding Fathers put a lot on the line for our freedom. The fact that Americans have a historical document that holds true to modern day culture is priceless. The Bill of Rights is something I believe every citizen should hold dear. Other countries fight for the democracy and freedoms that Americans often take for granted. Our undeniable rights are those that our Funding Fathers fought for at a hefty cost.
To me, the Constitution has been an inspiration for my time with the YMCA Texas Youth and Government program. It is a document that helps Americans hold their own in a world where originality is sometimes limited. It allows us to live unchained from the bonds that held us in history, and stands as a reminder for our nation’s ideals. It gives us the rights to voice our opinions and the privilege to make a difference in our nation through our right to vote. – Mikayla Pastrano ’21, Austin District
The U.S. Constitution is the foundation of our Texas Youth and Government Program, as we strive to teach our students the inter working aspects of our legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Our Texas YG students not only study our governmental process outlined by the Constitution, they also serve as elected officials, judges, attorneys, lobbyists, and legislators. Additionally, our media students are able to exercise their First Amendment freedoms, granted in the Bill of Rights, with coverage of other delegates’ activities.
On behalf of the Texas YG state office, we ask you to join us in supporting our students in the spirit of Constitution Day through our fundraising campaign. This year the fundraiser takes place from September 11th to September 27th. Please visit our donate page here to select your level of contribution to our valuable Texas YG program. Our festive donation levels will leave you feeling as official as our Constitutional Delegates.