By Maryfer Garcia,
Chisholm Trail High School
There is an expression that goes “food is life” which means that food is something vital that we need to survive. Food is what fuels us and to some, it is used as a reward after a hard day of work. Many people use food to recognize big accomplishments like at parties where important events are celebrated. A special treat should be recognized for going to compete at state for Youth and Government. Participating at state is not something that can be done leisurely are it requires much time to prepare and has many challenges, for that reason competing is an important event that should be commemorated.
Some students are looking forward to the banquet because it is their first time at such an event. The banquet is a place to dress to impress but still have a good time enjoying the new environment established. From the fashion to the aesthetic, to the food there is something to look forward to. Some first-years are looking forward to “I’m expecting this loud dinner party, nothing much” First-year Emma Bojnoch said. ”I’m expecting casual like no one’s really going to care.” Likewise, many first-years are in the dark about the banquet and have high expectations for the food. “I hope there’s good food.” Gabriel Lawrence said. “Because I’m hungry.”
Second years who have been exposed to the banquet food have not had such high expectations about the food. It has had a mixed review from some people saying the food did not live up to the expectations to others saying they appreciated the taste. “First year we had some sort of chicken bake.” Second-year Hannah Coleman said. ”And I kinda just picked at it.” The different accommodations have made some people favor the food more. “I think it was really nice.” Third-year Andrew Quinones said “I mean there’s a lot of accommodations for different religions, different food sensitivities, vegans. I myself would know because I’m religious, but yea the cheesecakes were really good.”
By Piper Watson,
North Central Texas Academy
The story of Texas’s State Capitol started long ago when it was established in 1839. The second president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau Lamar, wanted to make the town of Waterloo the Capitol of Texas. After the Texas Congress had approved the spot, the name was changed to Austin to honor Stephen F. Austin.
As time went on, Austin began to change and grow. The Capitol building started as a log cabin that had two larger and two smaller meeting rooms with an eight-foot stockade fence that aided in protection from Indian raids. In 1853, the Capitol had been improved into a limestone building located at Capitol Square, the current spot of the Confederate Soldiers’ monument. It was nicknamed an “architectural monstrosity” due to its lack of architectural refinement. When the Constitution of 1876 was created, they authorized 3 million acres of public land in the Texas Panhandle to be used to pay to build a new Capitol. A group from Chicago paid to construct our present-day Capitol in exchange for all of the land that eventually became the famous XIT ranch.
In 1880, Texas officials announced a reward of $1,700, which is worth $49,861.67 now, to whomever won the nationwide competition with the best design for the new Capitol. Architect Elijah E. Myers made the design that was approved by Texas officials. Before the Capitol’s construction could begin, there was a fire that almost burned the plans on November 9, 1881. While the limestone Capitol was on fire, the Capitol Board had been in a meeting inside. Limestone from south Austin began being used to construct the foundation for the Capitol by contractors in 1881.
Sadly, they discovered that when exposed to the atmosphere, the limestone began to become discolored. They began looking for other options and found that Texas Sunset Red Granite would be the perfect building material. Then the owners of Granite Mountain in the nearby county of Burnet constructed a railroad especially for workers to transport the donated 188,518 cubic feet of the special granite that was needed. Numerous civic and government dignitaries attended the ceremony when the cornerstone was laid by Texans on March 2, 1885. Inside the 12,000-pound stone was a little zinc box inside a carved niche that held mementos that had been collected. Massive stones from railcars were hoisted up to any parts of the outside walls of the Capitol by ten derricks. When the Capitol building was completed it had 392 rooms, 404 doors, and 924 windows. In 1887, iron braces and wrought iron framework were imported from Belgium to make a dome that was then painted to match the Capitol’s granite.
The year 1888 had a lot of accomplishments for our Capitol. In February, the Goddess of Liberty was created by metal contractors by welding 80 zinc pieces into the torso, two arms, and head. Each section was hoisted to the top of the dome and put in place by large screws. In May, over 20,000 people attended a week of celebrations at the new Capitol. The festivities included fireworks, band concerts, drill team competitions, and military displays. There were special streetcar lines that would bring large groups of people from an encampment a mile outside of town into the city. Crowds filled the Capitol grounds and lined Congress Avenue to view the dedication to the Capitol. The youngest son of Sam Houston, Senator Temple Houston, accepted the building on behalf of the state while expressing the pride that Texans felt in the building. “This building fires the heart and excites reflections in the minds of all… the architecture of a civilization is its most enduring feature, and by this structure shall Texas transmit herself to posterity” (Temple Houston).
Today in 2023, the Capitol is an extremely popular tourist spot for those wanting to learn about our history, and just to tour or look around. Having the esteemed opportunity to visit here and look at all of the extraordinary architecture and detail is certainly something that should reside on your bucket list. There are numerous artifacts and information all over the halls. The Capitol building in Austin, Texas is a fascinating, historical sight to see.
In 1947, the YMCA of Texas organized the first Youth and Government Conference. 76 years later we have the option to all travel to meet at the government Capitol of Texas. Delegates that put in the hard work get the opportunity to visit our Capitol to get to debate bills in the Senate and House for Legislative, propose solutions to our biggest problems in State Affairs, and see the entire capitol to document and interview in media. We are blessed to be able to get come to our Capitol to be able to learn and show the valuable skills that Youth and Government has taught us.
By Lilly Salcedo,
Duncanville High School
Youth and Government is a program that gives young students the voice to enact change for what they believe is the best for an evolving society. The Legislative branch of this organization gives the students that opportunity to exercise this practice of speaking out for their beliefs.
This group allows students to bring enlightenment on issues they find important and make a change for the better. This freedom is definitely a spectrum where people can exercise whatever they see fit; however, it can be taken to a different turn.
Ethan Matz, a McKinney Legislative delegate, introduced an interesting bill regarding a most surprising idea: feet. The bill’s basis is redefining indecent exposure to include the exposure of feet and declaring an emergency. The room embraced the uniqueness of this bill through curious questions. Even in the official systematic government environment, Matz was able to connect with his fellow delegates and invoke laughter into the conversation.
This bill may have drawn many curious reactions and spurred questions on the need for such an idea, but the bill really spoke to the people! The ever-ambitious Matz tried his best to fight for his bill to get passed in his committee, and he succeeded! Now he has a chance to pass it at the house of representatives!
In a government where the environment surrounding the idea of politics is always hard news, this refreshing exercise on the power we have as citizens has reminded us that the clarity of our democracy is truly what we make of it. Whether the debate be over the most minor things like making vanilla ice cream the national ice cream flavor to the professionalism of toe exposure. This process just goes to show how much power a person with a voice can have. Hopefully this gives you confidence to speak up, even if the issue is about something very far out like our feet!
Ethan Matz before his bill presentation at the House of Representatives
By Delia Rune,
Liberal Arts and Science Academy
The legislative section of Youth and Government (YAG) is one of the organization’s
most popular sections. In the legislative section, students propose bills and try to get them
One of this year’s legislative students, Prabath Girish, explained his bill about Texan
education standards. “My bill is about re-examining the TEK standard for learning in the state of Texas,” Girish said, “and readjusting the scheduling of them in such a way that makes it less stressful for students, and allows them to learn better.” According to Girish, doing the legislative section has taught him a lot about different
perspectives and encouraged him to be more open-minded. He thinks YAG helps students speak
their minds. “I’ve definitely learned about lots of different viewpoints in the world on different
issues,” Girish said. “All of us have a voice, and we all are very different people and can learn to
speak our own opinion and our own minds.”
Fabiana Urrego Diaz, another legislative student, describes her experience in the
legislative branch as being really fun. This is her second year at YAG, and she already feels like
she has gained a lot of valuable skills. “I’ve learned to be more confident when talking.” Diaz said, “Because, I mean, you have to be out there answering questions while people question the way you think. So I definitely have learned to be more confident when I speak in public.” Diaz agrees that YAG and the legislative branch have taught her the value of other perspectives. She says she definitely plans to keep coming back. “I think YAG is an important thing because we learn about different issues,” Diaz said. “And we kind of learn to take into account different people’s perspectives, and be like, more open-minded and more understanding.”
Girish agrees that YAG is important, and he hopes that it gives students skills they can apply to their lives as adults. He thinks the main skill the legislative section can teach students is the value of sharing their opinions. “YAG is really important because it gives people a voice.” Girish said, “It’s super important to allow people to get their voices out there. A lot of people are reluctant to speak out, but everyone has an opinion that should be heard.
By Zuly Noriega,
Duncanville High School
As the Renaissance Hotel becomes flooded at State with eager delegates from Youth and Government (YAG), we can’t help but notice District 5’s theme and attire. A navy long-sleeve blue shirt with big bold red letters spelling out, “THE NOW GENERATION.” Delegates also can’t help but stop and read the messages being plastered on posters and balloons displayed all throughout the lobby saying “FUTURE CHANGE MAKERS”.
These phrases echoing around this week’s conference raise our curiosity and invite big questions: How do both these topics tie together and apply to YAG students; and why is it so significant to acknowledge delegates’ roles in them?
The Now Generation has high ambiguity, many meanings, and is uniquely defined by every delegate. Two conference delegates asked what the Now Generation means to them gave different definitions, although both had a similar idea of how the Now Generation contributes to the theme of “Future Change Makers.”
State Affairs Forum (SAF) delegate Thomas Goa defines the Now Generation as, “The Now Generation is how our generation doesn’t recognize the role they have, which is why a lot of youth does not vote.”
Legislative delegate Sergio Juarez says, “The Now Generation is a unique group who have gone through lots of physical, social, and emotional challenges.” Both delegates have unique meanings of the Now Generation and both mention change.
Goa adds, “We need to realize that it is up to the youth to make changes, speak out when we have the chance, and be aware of our situations and our society.”
Juares says, “Delegates have built the determination to be able to make a change if they want to make a change.”
Overall, these two delegates help shine a light on how the youth are the drivers of this change. In other words, the “Future Change Makers.”
Since the Now Generation is believed to be the future change makers, which includes the YAG delegates, it is significant for these individuals to understand their impact on the world. YAG delegates’ awareness of their influence on the future is significant and represented in YAG because it helps demand change now and fast. For YAG, a lot of members want to make a change and know they can do it now, so they create these proposals and bills to have a future of getting passed in the National Congress.
The next time you delegates come across a Now Generation t-shirt, or when you are taking pictures with friends with the words “Future Change Makers” in the background, remember and understand that you all are the “NOW” and you all are the “FUTURE.” It is up to YOU as a delegate to take responsibility for the torch, maintain the flame and strongly pass it onto the next.
Delegates Thomas Gao and Sergio- Juarez, The Now Generations shirts worn.
By Saron Elias
Garland High School
Youth and Government collects students from all around the state, allowing them to come together as a group to compete, learn from each other, and show their skills. However, delegates tend to hesitate when it comes to meeting others, despite this rare opportunity to meet fellow delegates from across the state who have a similar interest in government. One group of students, however, traveled outside of their bubble to create new connections.
As game night commenced on Friday night, students set off, ready to explore the different activities. While some students rushed to the karaoke station, others flocked to the board game section. Seated on the floor amongst the chaos was a group of about 10 playing with a deck of cards. When asked what game the group was playing, delegate Lizzie Bobzien stated that the group was playing “B.S”. The group had formed spontaneously through delegates inviting others to join the game. Bobzien stated that she’s “never met [these] people before” and that they had simply gone around the board game section, asking if others wanted to play. Bobzien claimed that this game night was “a lot more fun” in comparison to her previous 2 years. As Bobzien was completing an interview about the group, students around the circle were laughing and having an enjoyable time meeting and conversing with others as they bonded over a card game they all loved.
This group of students playing a simple card game exemplifies the unity that Youth and Government has the potential to create. Although reaching out to others to construct a group for a game of cards may seem insignificant, it signals the start of connections that can continue to blossom over time. This group of students made some new friends that night and formed connections that may continue to grow with every conference they attend. By making small steps to connect with fellow delegates, Youth and Government participants can work towards creating a sense of community across the next generation of government workers in Texas.
Fellow delegates, step outside of your comfort zone and make connections with those around you. You never know who you’ll find!
By Spandana Palyam,
Liberal Arts and Science Academy
Though respect rules are withheld, some sexist opinions do not waver. Despite women working in the government for nearly 100 years now, people still do not treat them with the same regard as they do with men; unfortunately, sometimes even in Youth and Government, which is a program that actively encourages all adolescents to join. “Even if it’s not overt, every single woman here can attest to the fact that she’s walked into a room and gotten a look that made her feel less than.” Catherine Masey expressed.
Catherine Masey has been part of the Youth and Government program for three years and loves it because she wants to make the world a better place. While YAG has rewarding aspects such as collaborating with new people and exploring different aspects of authority, equality is not always given. Last year, Macey judged during district and asked a male evaluator for constructive criticism after the event. “He looked at me and he was like, not for you. And then turned around and gave feedback to the teams who had boy attorneys,” Masey claimed. The evaluator also did not give feedback to any girl witnesses at all. She expressed her exasperation with people respecting her. “There are quite a few people, women, and men, who think they can talk over me. And I’ve seen them not do that to a male judge and evaluators too,” Masey said. Masey acknowledges that even though these actions can be unintentional, it is still something that should not happen.
Other female delegates have also had a similar experience. One claimed that a lot of times, male judges tended to not encourage receiving feedback for themselves and that sometimes the feedback given is not accurate. “They’ll tell you that your witnesses were boring. And then it’s very strange feedback. They also won’t really take any feedback,” the delegate claimed.
Additionally, male delegates have been unnecessarily blunt towards female representatives. Lucy Murphy experienced this firsthand while participating in the Legislative section on March 3. “When I was doing leg[islative] yesterday, I noticed that the boys in the room would object to girls’ bills a lot more than guys and would try to make it seem as if they were better than us.” Murphy also mentioned that the girl legislators were not taken seriously by boy legislators.
Thankfully, Youth and Government is always open to improvement and deals with issues relating to disrespect. Rules and regulations are just the start to changing the opinions and experiences of women youth and government participants.
By LeeAnn Partin,
Hays High School
Out of the 1300 delegates this weekend, many get lost in translation- and more often than not, our newest delegates here are forgotten about! Despite this, one rookie has stood out amongst the crowd: Fatimah Sajid.
Her journey starts in Vista Ridge High School, combined with Austin’s District 2, with many of her peers choosing the legislative route. Delegate Sajid is one of the newest recruits to the legislative section, starting her first year as a freshman in this State Conference. Sajid is 14 years old, making her a part of some of the youngest Youth and Government members. For the first time, Sajid creates her bill for legislation: House Bill 124, an act to provide free healthcare to legal residents of Texas who make household incomes less than or equal to $59,999 per year. While Sajid’s bill was posted for unfavorable recommendation, she’s quickly learning from the experience on how to improve. With the goal to be a politician in mind, she’s taking this chance to grow her writing and learn more about the position she wants to take on through her experiences in Youth and Government, and her other extracurriculars.
While chatting with Sajid, she tells me a bit about herself. “I go to Vista Ridge High School. Everyone says it’s in Austin, but it’s technically in Cedar Park,” Sajid clears up. “I’m in the legislative section- everyone else in my school is in that too!” Because of this, Sajid explains it’s a difficult learning curve to go into any different section without help.
Jumping to Sajid’s assignments for her section, she details her thought process behind them. “My bill is made to help lower income and kind of middle-class families to afford basic healthcare, an unalienable right that we all have.” Sajid’s bill not being passed surprised her, but motivates her to try a different route for next year.
Despite spending her free time participating in Debate she also participates in the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and enjoys spending time at the Mosque to help tutor refugees. Sajid explains how she also loves to dance; no dancing experience, just enjoys it!
So far, she’s loving her first experience at state and is coming back with fire next year. Watch out delegates, Fatimah Sajid is ready to shine.