School Profile: Fort Bend High School Delegation

In honor of the 2018-2019 program kicking off this fall, we’ve featured some of our YG clubs and their exciting accomplishments on our blog. Our final high school club in our profile series: Fort Bend High School Delegation in the Houston District! This club is unique in that it is not attached to one high school, and is made up of primarily home school students! Thanks to Ms. Amy Parkins for sharing her club’s experiences.

As an advisor, what initially drew you to YG? What keeps you motivated to support your students in the program?

I actually participated in YG as a high school student, so I was happy to take on that roll at my Y since I have positive memories from my high school experience. Now that I have been an advisor for some time, I would say that the students are what keep me motivated! I am constantly amazed by the students in my club. Their knowledge, speaking skills, leadership skills, and most importantly their character qualities make it a joy to be part of this program.

Share some of your club’s proudest YG-related accomplishments.

Our club’s most recent accomplishments come from our trial court teams. At the 2017 state conference we had the #1 trial court team as well as the #1 judge. That team went to the National Judicial Competition and placed 7th. At the 2018 state conference we had teams place 3rd in District Court, 2nd in County Court, and also had a judge placed 3rd in District Court. The 3rd place team went on to the National Judicial Competition where they placed 3rd in the nation. It has been exciting to watch our judicial students get rewarded for their hard work!

What topics are your students most interested in?

The students in my club will get excited about any topic they are able to debate. Our judicial group always enjoys when they get a chance to argue a murder trial.

What are some of the club’s goals for the 2018-2019 program year?

We would like to have a candidate from our club this year, and have a trial court team qualify for NJC.

Thanks for sharing, Amy! We’re so proud of your successes and can’t wait to see your accomplishments this year!

2018-09-19T13:51:02+00:00September 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Happy Constitution Day!

Happy Constitution Day, Texas YG!! Today, September 17, 2018, marks the 231st anniversary of the end of the Constitutional Convention and signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Thirty-nine delegates from twelve states signed this document which established the U.S. system of government as we know it today. Signers included George Washington and James Madison of Virginia, Alexander Hamilton of New York, and Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania. Our 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. Please visit our donate page 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.

Your gift will help our civic education and leadership training reach over 2,000 middle and high school students and over 160 school clubs throughout the state of Texas. Your generosity will provide financial assistance to these students and allow them to attend our district and state conferences and enhance their knowledge and leadership skills. We sincerely appreciate your support for the Texas Youth and Government Program and our students across the state.

2018-09-17T15:55:02+00:00September 17th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

School Profile: Creekview High School

In honor of the 2018-2019 program year kicking off this fall, we’ll be featuring some of our YG clubs and their exciting accomplishments on our blog over the next few weeks. Next up in our school profile series: Creekview High School in the Dallas District! Thanks to Mr. Jonathan Ray for sharing his and his club’s experiences.

As an advisor, what initially drew you to YG? What keeps you motivated to support your students in the program?

It’s hard to find competitive opportunities locally for Mock Trial and especially Moot Court (what YG calls Appellate). Competing usually involves out of state travel, which is cost prohibitive for some students and limits the number of students who are able to participate.

Share some of your club’s proudest YG-related accomplishments.

We’ve had Appellate teams qualify for Nationals every year (2nd in the nation one year), Mock Trial 4th place at Nationals, State Champion Appellate, and State Chief Justice.

What topics are your students most passionate about?

Mock Trial students prefer criminal trials. Appellate students love arguing the 1st and 4th Amendments.

What are some of the club’s goals for the 2018-2019 program year?

To qualify at least 2 teams for Nationals!

Creekview High School’s club currently has about 50 students in Trial and Appellate divisions. We hope to see you at Nationals this year, Creekview!

2018-09-10T13:52:01+00:00September 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

School Profile: Midland Lee High School

In honor of the 2018-2019 program year kicking off this fall, we’ll be featuring some of our YG clubs and their exciting accomplishments on our blog over the next few weeks.  Next up in our new school profile series:  Lee High School in the Midland District!  Thanks to Mrs. Janet Reed for sharing her and her club’s experiences.

As an advisor, what initially drew you to YG?  What keeps you motivated to support your students in the program?

I love watching the kids get up in front of people and talk about things they are passionate about. I have seen shy, quiet students blossom and become their own advocates. Our first trial team there was a sophomore and senior attorney who didn’t know each other and were worlds apart in their personalities. I saw them sitting next to each other talking and sharing music in between rounds. YAG builds friendships and gives students and advisors an opportunity to grow in knowledge and admiration for the next generation.

Share some of your club’s proudest YG-related accomplishments.

In the last few years we had a student who transitioned to MUN because of a lack of legislative slots. He was elected the Secretary General the following year. Two years ago one of our Senators was elected President Pro Tem. And last year Lainey Wilson, Media delegate, was elected the Broadcast Producer for the upcoming year.

We are the ONLY school in District 1 that currently participates. Going into this school year, we have 19 returning students. In Midland, the freshman students attend a separate school which unfortunately makes it difficult for them to participate with us, so we pull students from the 10th-12th grades. We currently have students in Legislative, State Affairs Forum, Trial Court, and Media. The club has been in existence I think since the 1980s, and I have personally been involved since 2010. Our students are involved in Choir, Band, Theater Arts, and Debate and have interests that go far beyond the scope of Youth and Government. The motto they chose for themselves is “Small but Mighty.” I think it exemplifies their desire to make their mark at the State Conference and hope that in the future the smaller delegations will be more fairly represented and not overshadowed.

What topics are your students most passionate about?

Our members are passionate about trying to prevent censorship of free speech on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, especially when it comes to censoring more conservative views and values. Other topics of interest include abortion, gun rights, and immigration reform.

What are some of the club’s goals for the 2018-2019 program year?

We have several goals we have set for ourselves. Even though we are a small club, we want to show the school how fun it can be to expand your minds and have fun doing it. We want to be able to discuss controversial topics and have plenty of knowledge to be able to hold a conversation about those topics. This will help us to grow and compete better than the previous year. Growth is on the students’ minds. As noted, we are the only school in our District that participates! We want to expand and bring more people into the program. We also have a goal to grow together more as a delegation and bring the different areas together in whatever way we can.

We love these goals!  Thanks, Midland!

2018-08-16T08:47:28+00:00August 16th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

School Profile: North Central Texas Academy

In honor of the 2018-2019 program year kicking off this fall, we’ll be featuring some of our YG clubs and their exciting accomplishments on our blog over the next few weeks.  Next up in our new school profile series:  North Central Texas Academy in the Fort Worth District!  Thanks to Mrs. Debbie Talley for sharing her and her club’s experiences.

As an advisor, what initially drew you to YG?  What keeps you motivated to support your students in the program?

Youth and Government provides a hands on program for students to gain a better understanding of democracy and its governmental processes. It is very important to me that our students become amazing citizens that are active in the democratic process.

Share some of your club’s proudest YG-related accomplishments.

At North Central Texas Academy, our YG club has enjoyed an amazing tenure. We have had several students who have earned Distinguished Delegate over the years. Two students have served as Senate President Pro Tem and also attended National Leadership (CONA) in North Carolina.  The NCTA YG club has ranged from 10-25 students at the high school level and 5-10 students at the junior high level. We have participated in YG since 2000-2001. Our students have participated in Media, Legislative, and State Affairs program areas. Youth and Government is an amazing program giving students an opportunity to grow and find their passion as citizens. It has been awesome to see their growth as they participate and learn.

What topics are your students most passionate about?

Like a lot of people, students seem most concerned about those topics that have affected them or someone they know. I challenge them to research and talk to those around them for ideas.

What are some of the club’s goals for the 2018-2019 program year?

For 2018-2019, it is important to recruit students who are interested in protecting our freedoms and want to learn respectful debate. As a society, we must promote a dialogue that respects each individual citizen’s rights.

Thanks, NCTA!

2018-08-14T09:43:09+00:00August 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

School Profile: Akins High School

In honor of the 2018-2019 program year kicking off this fall, we’ll be featuring some of our YG clubs and their exciting accomplishments on our blog over the next few weeks.  First up in our new school profile series:  Akins High School in the Austin District!  Thanks to Mr. Armin Salek for sharing his and his club’s experiences.

As an advisor, what initially drew you to YG?  What keeps you motivated to support your students in the program?

Our school has been involved in YG Mock Trial for several years now, and it’s actually one of the reasons why I joined Akins. As an attorney, I wish I had the opportunity to get courtroom experience at their age. Now, I get to help high school students learn concepts that I didn’t get introduced to until I was almost a decade older than them. This is such a big advantage for our students, especially because they are in a law academy, and many of them are aspiring attorneys. They learn real legal applications while developing the soft skills that they can use regardless of the industry they choose in the future. And it’s fun! We spent three months preparing for the District and State competitions, and every single day I expected the students to burn out and get tired of all the work that goes into it.  Instead, they were engaged, excited, and enthusiastic.

Share some of your club’s proudest YG-related accomplishments.

The students would probably say that the proudest moment was earning fifth place at State Conference in county mock trial. They worked hard and earned the first-ever top ten placement for our school. For me, expanding the program is something that I’m very proud of. We grew from one mock trial team to three this year, and we welcomed underclassmen for the first time. Our team of freshmen ranked in the top ten at the local competition and qualified for the District Court mock trial competition at State. We are all very excited to improve from this year and to keep adding more teams as we get more students involved.

What topics are your students most passionate about?

Immigration and criminal justice reform are two topics that the students are very passionate about. Whenever these subjects come up in class, the students are dialed in, engaged, and very open to sharing their ideas. A major contributor to that is the fact that these two issues have touched on so many of their lives. Especially immigration. We have students that are here on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) waiting for updates to see if they will be allowed to stay here long enough to finish high school. We have a large number of Hispanic students that are hearing daily sound bites coming from politicians about how folks like them are impacting this country. And while some family members may end up cut off from their relatives by a wall, others are sitting behind bars. Unfortunately, the number of students that have been impacted by a loved one’s incarceration is very high as well. Regardless of the circumstances, these students have so much love for their family members, so addressing these topics is a major concern of theirs.

What are some of the club’s goals for the 2018-2019 program year?

Now that I’m no longer a YG rookie coach and we have a returning group of fantastic team members, I would love to see us grow to even more mock trial teams and possibly add other sections. The appellate section is something that I have experience with and think the team would enjoy. For some of our returning team members, we may try to prepare as judges as well. We are definitely trying to increase our involvement and keep improving regardless of what we are competing in.

Looking forward to seeing what Akins does in 2018/2019!

2018-08-07T14:24:20+00:00August 7th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2018-2019 Officer Profiles: Meet Your Print Editor-in-Chief!

At State Conferences last January and February, YMCA Texas Youth and Government students elected a new slate of officers to serve them during the 2018-2019 program year.  We’ll be featuring an interview with each officer on our blog in upcoming weeks.  Next up: Print Editor-in-Chief Gloria Ogunlade!  Earlier this month, Gloria represented Texas YG and Duncanville High School at the Conference on National Affairs in North Carolina.  Above, she is pictured with her fellow media delegates (far right, bottom row).

Share a little about your experience providing media coverage at CONA.  What stands out about the experience?

Being a part of the media team at CONA, I got to experience all the life-changing spirit of the Blue Ridge Mountains while also participating in the most realistic coverage I’ve ever been a part of. I had the opportunity to work with facilitators with years of experience in the field that shared the same love of politics and story-telling news. The content we were able to put out at CONA was extremely professional, so it was great for me personally because I was able to learn and take away many tools from my week on the Mountain. Spending the majority of the day with other media delegates, I was able to learn about other YG media programs and make lifelong friendships. While there are countless things that made CONA such a unique experience for me, I’d say these new relationships and strong bonds I made with delegates I’d spent less than a week with are what stand out the most.

What draws you to print media over other forms?

To me, print media allows for the most in-depth coverage– stories can be as long and detailed as necessary. Print media can also present more of a challenge because it is more difficult to get people to be engaged with longer articles or blogs, but being able to present a good story from all angles makes it worth it and makes me proud of the final product.

What is your favorite content that you have created for YG media thus far and why?

My favorite content I’ve created for YG media would have to be a delegate profile I wrote for CONA on my friend and fellow delegate (Jariah Cole — read here!). It was fun and interesting for me to construct because it was a story that was somewhat personal for me, and it was important to me to highlight my friend and shine light on her achievements.

Besides CONA, what else is keeping you busy this summer?

Following CONA, I went on a roadtrip and was able to tour some out-of-state colleges. For the rest of my summer, I plan on hanging out with my friends, participating in as much community service as possible, and also doing a lot of studying for my SAT and ACT to prepare for a very busy senior year right around the corner.

2018-07-24T13:07:02+00:00July 24th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

CONA 2018 Adventures and Updates

We hope y’all had a fantastic Independence Day!  Our delegates at CONA celebrated early by cheering on Anastasia Sotiropoulos (Dallas), Sharif Long (Dallas), and Aayush Dave (Houston) during Tuesday’s Third Committees and enjoying a holiday dance that night.  On July 4th, our Texas delegates impressed during General Assemblies.  The authors of 18 of the top 30 proposals present during the Heaton and Washburn General Assemblies the Wednesday of CONA. Jordan Clements, Anastasia Sotiropoulos, Evan Vollbrecht, and Diomarvellous Nsofor gave Pro/Con Intent Speeches during Washburn, and Dylan Cousins spoke up in Heaton.  Outside these planned speeches, other Texas delegates raised their voices including Christina van Waasbergen, Kate Schulle, and Madison Dillon.  Our students calculated that Texas delegates took a whopping 22% of the General Assembly Pro/Con speaking opportunities!

Our delegates had some free time Wednesday afternoon.  Some chose to swim while others went on a hike in the mountains surrounding Blue Ridge or went on a tour of the historic Biltmore Estate.  Even those delegates who did not participate in the hike have gotten a true taste of nature at CONA this year.  We are keeping a safe distance, but we have had many bear sightings!  Check out the picture below.

Today, all CONA attendees are in Plenary Session.  The top 12 proposals overall, including Sharif Long’s proposal “To increase campus-wide approaches to address the college mental health crisis in America,” advance to this final proposal presentation event.  Michael Brown and Rajpal Bal had a chance to offer Pro/Con comments during Plenary earlier today.  Sharif is expected to present around 3:15 p.m. CST and has the honor of closing the conference.  To tune in, visit the CONA live stream page.  YG supporters can also watch tonight’s closing award ceremony starting at 6:00 p.m. CST.

We’re proud of all our CONA delegates!

2018-07-05T13:48:28+00:00July 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

CONA 2018 Begins!

Hello from Black Mountain, NC!  Texas YG has just kicked off the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) with our delegation of 24 outstanding students.  After training in Austin Friday night, the delegation arrived at scenic YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly on Saturday.  Delegates have come to CONA to present their proposals describing social problems and outlining solutions on a variety of topics such as mental health on college campuses, the opioid crisis, voting reform, homelessness in major U.S. cities, and school safety. They had a first chance to share these proposals with delegates from other states during Proposal Sharing Groups Saturday night.  Jariah Cole and Jonathan Forseth each chaired a Proposal Sharing Group.

On Sunday, delegates enjoyed the Opening Ceremony and took part in First Committee Hearings.  During each round of Committee Hearings, delegates engage in debate and discuss the pros and cons of their own and other delegates’ proposals, suggesting amendments to proposals as appropriate and following parliamentary procedure throughout.  They score one another’s proposals, and a specified number of the highest scoring proposals from each Committee Hearing advance to the next round.  All delegates gather on the final day of CONA to discuss the 12 highest-ranked proposals in a Plenary Session.  First Committee Hearings wrapped up Monday morning, and delegates will participate in Second Committee Hearings this afternoon and evening.  We are celebrating all our delegates including Sharif Long, Alysha Orbach, Aayush Dave, and Anastasia Sotiropoulos who earned leadership positions in Hearing Committees, Conference Life Committee, and Round Tables. We are also thrilled for our delegates whose proposals have advanced to the Second Committee Hearings: Dani Smith, Anastasia Sotiropoulos, Jesse Williams, Alysha Orbach, Sharif Long, Diomarvellous Nsofor, and Aayush Dave.

More to come later this week as we begin Third Committee Hearings tomorrow!  Enjoy a round-up of pictures from our first couple of days below.  For more CONA coverage, be sure to visit the official CONA blog.  Media delegate Gloria Ogunlade wrote a feature story about Jariah Cole that highlights Jariah’s impressive leadership and resilience.  You don’t want to miss it!

2018-07-02T13:02:57+00:00July 2nd, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2018-2019 Officer Profiles: Meet Your Secretary of State!

At State Conferences last January and February, YMCA Texas Youth and Government students elected a new slate of officers to serve them during the 2018-2019 program year.  We’ll be featuring an interview with each officer on our blog in upcoming weeks.  This week: Secretary of State Jonathan Forseth!

What are some of your primary goals (personal and related to the program as a whole) for your time as Secretary of State?

As elected Youth Secretary of State, I have a few important goals I would like to accomplish this year. First, organization. As a whole, Texas YG can get pretty hectic around conference time, especially considering the large number of members/delegates throughout the state. As SoS, I believe it is part of my duty to ensure that I contribute to the organization of our District and State Conferences. In order to simplify the organization/order of these events, I will be pushing for the release of conference schedules in advance of the actual conference. By doing this, we will be able to cut down on some of the confusion surrounding these conferences. Second, I will be working with the other officers to ensure that we are properly educating new delegates prior to the school year. I will work locally in my District of Fort Worth to get more students involved in this revolutionary program. Finally, I want to help foster more collaboration between the Districts in order to help prepare for the State Conference. I hope to do this by sending ambassadors into different Districts throughout the state to help recruit and train new delegates.

You’ll be returning to CONA this summer.  What would you say about the CONA experience to new YG delegates?

When you hear people say that CONA is life-changing, you may think that sounds a bit cliche, but trust me when I tell you that CONA is an opportunity unlike any other. The people you meet there truly become lifelong friends. If you don’t know much about CONA, or maybe you feel that you aren’t cut out for it, please consider applying next year. Step out of your comfort zone, and step into the fresh air of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

You’ve also got six years as a Leg delegate under your belt.  What bill/advocacy topics are you most passionate about?

Having been in Youth and Government since sixth grade, I have seen thousands of bills. Out of all of those bills, the ones that stick out to me the most are ones that make me question our way of life. There is a saying that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  However, just because something isn’t broken, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon. I love bills that promote revolutionary change/ideas in the State of Texas. I also appreciate bills that improve outdated systems and create better regulations and rules in our society.

What are some of your summer plans?

If you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you can tell right off the bat that I love adventures. I love to travel as much as I can as well as venture out with my friends. My main goal for this summer is not to spend an entire day at home. I plan on going out every single day with my friends, traveling with my family, and attending as many camps/opportunities as I can. I also plan on collaborating with my fellow YG officers in order to improve this amazing program.

2018-06-18T15:00:09+00:00June 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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