Happy Constitution Day! Today, September 17, 2017, marks the 230th 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 that established the U.S. system of government as we know it. Signers included George Washington and James Madison of Virginia, Alexander Hamilton of New York, and Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania. By its creation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, the Constitution built the foundation that supports students in the Texas YG program. They study the government’s workings and serve as elected officials, judges, attorneys, lobbyists, and legislators. We now ask you to support our students through our Constitution Day Fundraiser. Please donate here to contribute to our valuable Texas YG program. Your gift will help our civics education and leadership training reach over 2,000 middle and high school students throughout Texas. Additionally, a portion of contributions will be set aside to support our 200+ students in the Houston area affected by Hurricane Harvey who may need financial assistance to attend the State Conferences in January and February. Thank you so much for your generosity! As a special treat, watch the video below to hear our Youth Governor Sharif Long’s thoughts on what the Constitution means to him.
Read below to learn more about Jordan Clements, your 2017-2018 Texas YG High School Lt. Governor!
What are some key issues you have tackled in your past bills and proposals?
Some key issues I have tackled in my previous bills and proposals include Welfare Reform, Participation Awards, Campaign Finance, Vigilantism, Hardening the Power Grid, and, most recently, Whistle Blowing.
Share a little bit about your experience attending CONA earlier this year.
Besides my proposal not getting past first committee, I had an amazing time at CONA. On top of doing well enough to get the Outstanding Statesman award, I had an amazing time reuniting with old friends and meeting new friends from Texas and throughout the rest of the nation. The only thing that bugged me about CONA was that the DJ kept remixing songs together at the dance (but that’s not really something of too much concern when you’re with your closest friends).
What other extracurricular activities do you enjoy? Fun facts you want to share?
Aside from YG and other Congressional Debate forums, I enjoy Extemporaneous Speaking, Stu Co, and Marching Band. I consider myself a mega-nerd in many respects such as history, economics, current events, politics, comic book movies, and Star Wars.
What are your educational and career plans moving forward?
Moving forward, I hope to get a doctorate in economics and become an economics professor/researcher in the likes of Milton Friedman or Thomas Sowell. Later in life, I also hope to go into government for real and, hopefully, become President if I am so lucky to have such an honor bestowed upon me!
We love to hear about our students’ ambitions and the ways Texas YG inspires their future plans! Thanks, Jordan!
As our program year begins, we want you to get to know your Texas YG High School officers! Check back each week for a profile of one of these esteemed delegates. First up: Youth Governor Sharif Long!
What are some key issues you hope to highlight during your term as Governor?
Running for governor, my platform focused on the values of transparency, equality, and legacy. Within the program, I hope to continue to work with the State Office so that these values are exhibited in all things we do. As a delegate within the program, I’ve always noticed the harmony amongst delegates, as they respect the viewpoints of others. I want to continue to promote statesmanship at all YG conferences so that delegates understand to debate ideas, not the person.
Politics within our country have become polarized through recent events, and I hope that in our Youth Legislature, we can prove that our generation are not the leaders of tomorrow but of today, tackling and working together to resolve controversial issues such as immigration, criminal justice reform, education, health, and the environment. Often I feel as though we as passionate teenagers should actively reach out to our elected officials and initiate change within our communities and state.
Share a little bit about your experience attending the Governors’ Conference earlier this year.
The Youth Governors’ Conference is unlike any other conference I’ve experienced. Truly, this experience has helped me to have a better understanding of my role as the Texas Youth Governor and how best to execute my ideas for the growth and development of the program for the well-being of all its volunteers and participants. The most interesting part about Gov Con is its secretive elements, so I’m afraid I can’t give it all away! I can tell you that I met 44 of the brightest young minds in America who challenged me to be the best version of myself for the improvement of our Texas YG program and society. It was amazing to gain insight about how different all of our programs are and become empowered by our many differences.
What traits do you admire in other leaders?
I think John C. Maxwell describes a leader best: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” At Gov Con, I had the opportunity to room with Daven Turner, Youth Governor of Missouri. His warm hugs and genuine interest in getting to know his peers were things that all of the fellow members of my Gov Class admired most about him. Although he may be gone, his legacy lives on! Many leaders can have competence, but without a genuine interest in the people they serve, it’s difficult for leaders to understand where to take them and how to lead in a way to show followers the end result. This is the trait that Daven showcased best. Empowerment speaks volumes about a leader’s humility and helps others add value to the people they encounter, launching a “ripple effect.”
What are your educational and career plans moving forward?
I plan to apply to…the University of Texas at Austin for sure! Although government and politics have become a passion of mine, I’ve always wanted to have a career where I can serve people in some type of capacity. Combined with my interest in science, I’d like to major in Biology. Since I’m interested in going to medical school, I can major in anything as long as I take my prerequisite courses so music, history, and ethics have also been possible options. I’ve [considered] a job as an orthopedist, gerontologist, or possibly a general physician.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re taking a break from your Texas YG duties?
In my spare time (which I rarely have), I enjoy playing my tuba, listening to music, or getting together with friends for a game night. I’m not the best at card games, but my friends and I always have a great time battling it out. I’ve recently developed the hobby of letter writing. With so many YG friends around the country, I love to write them letters when I get the chance!
Thank you, Sharif!
Registration for Texas YG 2017-2018 is officially live! Students who have previously participated in Texas YG should have received an email from the Texas YG State Office containing their unique registration links. Please check all your email folders (or your parent/guardian’s if you registered using their email address last year) to make sure this email doesn’t get lost! If you’re a returning student and can’t find your email after checking all folders, contact the State Office and we’ll be happy to help. Please reach out–it’s very important you use your unique link!
Friendly reminder: please use your school’s full name rather than an abbreviation. The majority of schools are listed on the registration form and affiliated with a specific YMCA branch. You should only type in your school’s name if you can’t find it under any of the YMCA branches in your district.
New students can register here. Advisors, look out for an email from the State Office with information about your own and students’ registration links within the next few days. All participants can refer to the registration instructions on our Resource Portal for further information. We’re excited to get you registered and kick off the year!
We’re also excited that our Resource Portal has gotten a makeover! The Legislative, SAF, and Candidates sections are up-to-date with 2017-2018 program materials. Read through the updates and reminders pages to learn about changes and get prepped for the upcoming year! Media content will be updated by the end of the week, and the State Office is working on preparing Judicial materials as quickly as possible. Keep checking back for updated content, and we appreciate your patience and participation!
We don’t want to begin our weekly blog post without acknowledging the devastation that Hurricane Harvey brought to our great state. Our hearts are heavy and go out to any YG participants and families affected by the storm. Our program hopes to instill civic engagement in our students, and we invite any readers to check here, here, or here to learn more about ways to get involved with Harvey relief efforts.
Why get involved in YG and learn the fundamental civic skills it teaches? Read below for some of our alumni’s thoughts on the rewards and impacts of the program!
How did your participation in Texas YG influence your educational/career choices?
YG tremendously altered my life’s path. Before Texas YG I desired to be a cardiothorastic surgeon. However, after experiencing the true power of democracy and how essential government is to society through YG, I’ve turned a new leaf and changed my career path. I am now majoring in Political Science at the University of North Texas, and I plan to attend law school immediately after, all in order to later serve as a congressman/public servant. YG inspired these dreams.
I actually credit Texas YG with my choice to study Government and pursue a career in national security and intelligence. Aside from piquing my interest in matters of government and international relations, YG taught me to draw on all my academic resources to articulate what I believe and intelligently debate answers to the most pressing world issues. Oftentimes, the best ideas came from innovative thinkers with backgrounds much different than mine. In a time when the intelligence community of the US is facing many challenges, this educational and team-based approach to problem-solving will certainly help me to get in on tackling policy issues effectively and improving the overall intelligence apparatus of the US with thoughtful, refined decisions.
Participating in Texas YG improved my confidence, encouraged me to think critically, and provided me with the necessary skills to articulate my viewpoint on specific issues. It benefited me throughout my time in college and ultimately drove me toward a government-based career.
Share a fond memory from your Texas YG days that has stuck with you.
My fondest memory of YG is the time spent at CONA and other conferences. People in YG are involved from across Texas, and I only saw many a few times a year. It was so exciting to see these friends and spend quality time with them.
The awards ceremony at my very last CONA was so impactful. The Texas delegation knocked it out of the park — multiple outstanding proposal awards, a top chair award, a YG college scholarship winner, a PO and an alternate PO selected. Everyone was so thrilled for each other and the energy among the Texas group was just outstanding. It was such a special way to end my YG experience as a student.
My fondest memory from Texas YG happened when I was giving a speech. During the speech, I looked out to the crowd and told them I loved them, and someone told me they loved me back. That kid made my day. Genuine compassion and love is priceless and sacred. Unity among your peers is an irreplaceable element of YG that it nurtures and promotes.
What’s one piece of advice you have for current Texas YG students?
My piece of advice would be “Utilize all opportunities!” A great man once said that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Be sure to take those shots.
Be interested in everything. Though you may have one or two main issues you are an expert on and particularly want to debate, listen to and participate in debate on all issues. You never know if you’ll find a new passion buried within others’ bills/proposals, and even better, you may find a new friend who can expertly educate you on something you’d never thought about or considered! Knowledge is power, as is friendship.
The advice I would give students currently participating in the program is to be involved and passionate about what you are doing. You’ll only go so far on talent, and passion is what pushes you further. Find your passion in YG and stick with it – the results will amaze you.
Early this week, Texas YG’s dedicated District Directors met at the State Office for two days of planning for the 2017-2018 Program. We hope students are as excited as they are about what the year holds! Our District Directors graciously shared some fun facts, what they love about YG, and why they believe in this awesome program. Read on for a behind the scenes look at the women who make Texas YG possible!
Midland/Odessa District Director Jan Van Eman
YG is a program that makes students think outside the box. It stretches their minds and continuously challenges them to go above and beyond what they ever thought they could.
I like to watch most sports–professional, high school, college basketball, football, baseball, NASCAR, and soccer. My favorite teams are the Spurs, Rockets, Cowboys, Texans, and Texas A&M.
Austin/San Antonio/Corpus Christi/Williamson County District Director Missy Garcia
I believe in Youth and Government because this program is much more than a competition. We strive to create an environment where students can really dive into the political arena. They can disagree with one another but also realize no one is just one issue…we are all complex and have different views on various topics. That helps create a strong understanding for our youth of what awaits them when they begin working and engaging in politics themselves.
I’m a NASCAR fan! I’m from West Texas and became a fan when I was younger. Going out and seeing car races on dirt tracks was always fun. Now my goal is to attend a fan weekend and get to drive a car!
Houston/Port Arthur District Director Gloria Guzman
The thing I love the most about Youth and Government is that it gives students a platform for their voices to be heard. I think that it really reinforces to students that they do have a voice, that it should be used, and that that sharing can be done positively.
I was a Youth and Government participant in my high school years, and it truly is great to see this come full circle for me. I have a middle schooler now who I hope will engage in Youth and Government as well and soon will know what it feels like to be a parent of a student in a Youth and Government program!
Fort Worth/Arlington District Director Lisa Gossard
I believe YG instills confidence and the ability to listen to opinions/beliefs different from one’s own.
I lived overseas from ages three to six.
Dallas/Palestine District Director Jenna Struble
I believe that Youth and Government is the best training ground for youth leadership. We empower teens with not only the tools but also the opportunities to lead. It’s not only officers that learn to lead–we provide those opportunities to lead a club, lead a section in a club, train teachers and students, preside over a courtroom, lead a judicial team, serve the YMCA on a Teen Action Council or the community with a service project. It’s also the only outlet for teens that treats them like adults, with respect to their opinions, their ideas, and their journey as people.
Interesting fact about me…I used to work as Head of Wardrobe for Cirque du Soleil Japan and European tours of Saltimbanco.
Thank you, District Directors, for all you do!
What a week our NJC 2017 participants had in the Windy City! Check out the images and testimonials below to learn more about our delegates’ and volunteers’ experiences. Texas YG has enjoyed a great summer attending national conferences and can’t wait for our more local District and State Conferences to come! Program registration for 2017-2018 opens August 24. Mark your calendars!
Being with all of my friends, having fun, and competing with them is the experience that stands out to me. In summer, we don’t always hangout as much as we would like to, and being with my team in Chicago was amazing!
So proud of our Youth and Government teams from Del Valle High School…Besides doing great in the competition, they also had a great time sightseeing, meeting a federal judge, dancing, and eating a lot of deep dish pizza (they decided that Lou Malnati’s is best).
A memory that…will stick with me is my last trial on Thursday. I didn’t agree with the judge on many things, and she was…harsh, but I think that was a good experience for my team to be exposed to that so that we can come back next year and be ready.
It’s nice to celebrate our wonderful volunteers, as well. Congrats to our Creekview appellate coach, Dr Jonathan Ray, for being selected to serve as Chief Justice for the showcase appellate round at National Judicial Competition. Compelling questions and a great sense of humor.
Dallas delegates competed hard for two days in appellate court. They made friends, got great scores, and, most of all, had fun. Boat cruise is a great way to close out the week.
The National Judicial Conference officially kicked off yesterday and our Texas Delegates have stayed busy since. The students have finished their first two rounds of competition that began at 9AM this morning. After lunch they will begin their third round of competition at the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse and the Chicago Bar Association. Trials and Hearings will take place until 3:30 this afternoon.
After a long day in court our delegates will head to the Navy Pier to celebrate their week on board the Spirit of Chicago. The Delegates will have dinner, dessert and dance the night away with new friends while they cruise Lake Michigan!
Stay tuned for more pictures and competition results!
Hi from your Texas YG NJC delegates! NJC kicked off last night with an opening ceremony that featured a Chicago-style improv show and Houston delegates Hannah and Ashley Kenison sharing the thought for the day. Students have now launched into their rounds of trials and hearings. Delegates compete from 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. today and from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. tomorrow. We are proud of their hard work and dedication! Our appellate court delegates are showing off their argumentation skills at the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse while our trial court students practice the art of persuasion at the Chicago Bar Association. Stay tuned for more pictures and competition results tomorrow! In the meantime, read on to learn more about the case at the center of the trial competition that our students know inside and out. Student attorneys must be prepared to argue on behalf of either side.
Ricki Jones v. Metro City
(Adapted by the YMCA from a mock trial case created by the D.C. Street Law Project at Georgetown University Law Center)
The plaintiff: Ricki Jones, parent of Samuel Jones, is suing Metro City. Samuel had leukemia and passed away on September 16, 2015 at the age of 24 after he drank Metro City tap water containing the parasite Pindia and contracted pindiatosis. Metro City had been aware of the presence of Pindia in its tap water and its relationship to the city’s deteriorating pipes since October 2012. Pindia levels reached the federal minimum health risk threshold of 300 per gallon of water in June 2015, prompting the Federal Water Safety Advisory to step in. Pindia levels stabilized at 400 per gallon of water in August 2015, a level safe for general public consumption but potentially risky for people with compromised immune systems such as Samuel. By September 15, 2015, Pindia levels had dropped to 278 per gallon of water as a result of the city’s chlorine flushing treatments. Ricki Jones seeks slightly over $3 million in compensatory damages.
The defendant: Metro City complied with Federal Water Safety Advisory regulations, issuing a boil water advisory to residents in June 2015 and publicizing information about Pindia levels in a local newspaper. The City Council also took the additional step of sending an extra notice about the Pindia levels to residents. Metro City argues it should not be held strictly liable, one claim in Ricki Jones’ suit, because Pindia concentration never became unreasonably dangerous. It also rejects Ricki Jones’ claim of negligence, arguing it heeded Federal Water Safety Advisory protocol to alert residents to the presence of Pindia and took reasonable measures to ensure public safety.
The witnesses: The plaintiff will testify and also calls Metro City Public Utilities Department staff member and Nationalists Advocating Good Government founder Alex Foster and oncology specialist Dr. Pat Dawes. The defendant calls Metro City Council chair Chris Baird, Samuel Jones’ volunteer peer counselor Tyler Johnson, and Metro City Research Institute parasitologist Dr. Hunter Williams.
What do you make of this case? We’re excited to see how our students tackle it!
As the end of summer approaches each year, the YMCA and the American Bar Association partner to host the National Judicial Competition (NJC) in Chicago, IL. This Appellate and Trial Court contest brings together high-performing teams from State Conferences around the country for two and a half days of courtroom proceedings. Students are able to take advantage of facilities like the John Marshall Law School, Chicago Bar building, and the Federal Courthouse. Delegates also have free time to explore the Windy City and the opportunity to enjoy a Dinner Boat Cruise on Lake Michigan their final evening in Chicago. This year, Texas YG is thrilled to send a delegation of 29 students to NJC! These 29 students made up three of the Trial Court teams and six of the Appellate Court teams that earned high scores at our 2017 High School State Conference. They will show off their judicial skills in Chicago August 1-4. Trial Court teams will participate in up to five rounds while Appellate Court teams will participate in up to ten. Congratulations, delegates! We look forward to following your time at NJC next week.