By Alanis Rodriguez,
Chisolm Trail High School

Students spend hours preparing for the Youth and Government State Conference. These moments are spent practicing, seeking advice, and considering endless possibilities in court or on the floor. While some go to the conference to hang out with friends and see the sights, others want to impress evaluators so that they can the most points. Whatever the reason might be, the delegates and candidates must prepare for the four-day conference in a variety of ways.

In the Judicial branch, witnesses are played and studied by students, which are then polished with the help of the attorneys. “I like to say we can’t have good attorneys if we don’t have good witnesses,” says Danika Maddox, who defended Arlo Key in the windshield murderer case. “We like to, at least once a practice, take our witnesses and either run through their questions or talk about how they’re going to answer them,” she said. By working in tandem, the witnesses and attorneys can create an effective argument that can get the defendant out of years of imprisonment. Meanwhile, the students who play as these witnesses have to understand their characters and research any other information that might come up in court.
Gavin Brooks, who played the medical examiner in the windshield murderer case, says, “you also have to have a lot of background knowledge on the scientific terms that are used,” and that you have to “understand them so then you don’t get frozen” on the witness stand. These two groups must work together to appeal to the judge and eventually reach the verdict that they worked hard for.

Along with the delegates, candidates running for next year’s positions must prepare their platforms and hone their campaigning skills to get the attention of students. Ryan Lee, a junior running for Governor, says that he has been “consulting other states and other governors” and “brainstorming, asking other delegates” to assist in creating his platforms. He has three platforms: 1) More Youth and Government events for practice opportunities; 2) A peer group system to give personalized feedback, and 3) To localize the Youth Advocate Program so that it is accessible to more students.

“I’ve already consulted other places like Washington, DC, and California, and they already have this thing in place, and all I’m going to do is reflect their own process and put it on to Texas,” said Lee when asked about the localization of the last program. As someone who is running for governor, Lee will need to talk to many students in the program in order to get their votes. “Since district, every weekend I’ve been setting at least three to four hours, developing speeches, developing ideas, and reaching out to other people,” he explained when asked about how long he has been preparing for his campaign. As seen above, candidates like Lee have spent hours of dedication to perfect their skills and platforms to hopefully get the votes of their fellow peers.