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NJC 2017: A Preview

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.

July 25th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Delegates’ Reflections on CONA 2017

2017-2018 Youth Governor Sharif Long and veteran Legislative delegates Jariah Cole and Anastasia Sotiropoulos were among the 25 Texas YG students who attended the Conference on National Affairs, a national YG event that took place July 1-6 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  Like all our delegates, they excelled and made us proud!  Governor Long’s proposal to implement education programs to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline passed in the Plenary Session, the final and most prestigious Committee Hearing.  Jariah’s proposal thoughtfully considered elimination of the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons, and she presented a pro speech for Sharif’s proposal in front of more than 600 Plenary Session audience members.  Anastasia earned a spot as a pro intent speaker and advanced to Third Committee with her proposal suggesting changes to funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.  Below, these delegates reflect on the meaningful, personal impacts the CONA experience made and take time to thank their supporters and generous financial sponsors who make YG possible each and every year.

Sharif says: Love, collaboration, and passion are the three words that best describe the CONA experience. As our delegation rides up the mountain to Eureka Hall (at the top), I can feel the nerves and my adrenaline rush. [This was] my third year, [but] the nerves were still there! However, this time on the mountain was different. Looking back over my past two CONA experiences, I was able to reflect on my growth, which helped facilitate me to be how I am today. My first year of CONA, I felt like I didn’t belong, that I shouldn’t have spoken up because “I’m not smart enough,” “I don’t know enough,” or my point isn’t “good enough.” I wouldn’t speak often.  I’d simply ask a few questions, but this year something was different! I actually stepped outside of my comfort zone and went out of my way to commit to excellence, as we learned to do on the mountain. In the past, I never made it out of First Committee, and I didn’t at all have the intentions of making it to Plenary this year. My biggest takeaway has been this quote: “You are stronger than you know, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think you are.” CONA has really blessed me with the opportunity to apply that both in and outside of committees as I make my way into unknown territory. I am motivated, excited, and passionate about walking into the unknown territory of governorship and can’t wait to serve this amazing program that has done so much for me. Words are not enough to express my gratitude to all of the family, friends, and mentors who’ve supported me in my personal growth in this program throughout the years!

A note from the State Office: Sharif had a chance to meet three of these mentors, 2012 Co-Youth Governors Jared McCluskey and Micah Peterson and 1993 Youth Governor Chris Applegate, during CONA 2017.  They are pictured above.  We are humbled by the continued support of our Texas YG alumni.  Thank you!

Jariah says: From attending CONA I learned to never give up. As the Conference progressed it got harder and harder to speak, but…I then realized that there would be no burden if I just lifted my placard, even if I didn’t get called on. My confidence grew from First Committee to Plenary. On a personal level, attending CONA meant that I am enough. I have always pushed myself in debate and helping my peers. When I received the acceptance email, my mind was blown. When starting this program in 8th grade, I would have never thought that I would make it this far. Attending gave me a major confidence boost.  One moment I will always remember from CONA is when I spoke at Plenary. It was the second to last proposal, and it was Sharif Long’s proposal…The chair called for the final pro speaker, and my placard flew up. He happened to call on the girl behind me who generously took me up to speak with her. My heart dropped, and I suddenly forgot everything I had written in my notes, just astonished that I would have a chance to speak. Although my tongue was tied, I presented a speech in front of 600+ delegates from across the United States.  To my sponsors: I am beyond grateful for this wonderful opportunity…for the knowledge I have gained to share with my delegation. Thank you for believing in me and for knowing that this would give me a different perspective on life. 

Anastasia says: It’s been two weeks since CONA and I have come to realize that that one week has impacted my life long term—and much more dramatically than I had ever anticipated. When applying, the Conference was hyped up to be a life-changing experience, but I wasn’t sure in what way a week on a mountain in North Carolina would translate into my routine back in Dallas. I learned that one astounding way it does so is through the Blue Ridge Spirit. I define it as a shared sense of selflessness and kindness that each delegate on the mountain feels at some point. When you arrive at the steps of the Eureka Hall, you quickly realize that everyone’s number one priority is everyone else—making your day wonderful, doing anything they can do to make you happy. It’s humbling and makes you want to reciprocate and treat others the exact same! I cannot emphasize enough what gems the people are, how civil they are when debating opposite viewpoints, how open and honest they are, and how you can learn so much from them. I met people from every end of the country (including Hawaii!), who I would have otherwise never had the opportunity to know, and I am eternally grateful for it.  Every single day stood out in some way. The whole conference sang to me on my birthday, people gave me honey when I lost my voice, held umbrellas over me when it was pouring, took time out of their days to help me research, wrote me notes, cheered me on when I presented in bigger committees, and above all, left me inspired to do the same for them. We had nightly circle discussions as a Texas delegation, and I’ll never forget one line graduated senior Jared said: “We’re not the leaders of the future, we’re the leaders of today.” CONA was the perfect place for today’s leaders to gather.

 

Interested in financially supporting amazing students and experiences like these?  We would love it if you would consider donating to our program.  We sincerely appreciate your support of our delegates!

July 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

CONA 2017: Exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Between cheering on Jared Bouloy’s and Keilan Lewis’ passing proposals at the Washburn General Assembly and rooting for Youth Governor Sharif Long and pro intent speaker Noelle Mitchell at Thursday afternoon’s Plenary Session (livestream here http://ustre.am/1wFY7), students had a chance to take advantage of the beautiful and historic location of the Blue Ridge Assembly.  Some delegates participated in a trip to the Biltmore, the private estate built by George Washington Vanderbilt II near Asheville, NC in the late 19th century.  Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the house is considered a great example of American Chateauesque architecture and a testament to the Gilded Age.  Other delegates went on hikes in the area surrounding the Assembly or took well-deserved breaks from activities to relax.  Delegates have also been able to enjoy pizza together each night as part of their Delegation Meetings and participate in optional Morning Devotions, and they are looking forward to tonight’s Closing Fire Ceremony.  Thanks to all for a wonderful and successful CONA 2017!

July 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

CONA Update: Celebrating Independence Day and Our TX Delegates!

Hello again from CONA!  We had a fantastic Independence Day celebration here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Proposals written by seven of our students (Jessie Searles, Keilan Lewis, Dani Smith, Noelle Mitchell, Jared Bouloy, Anastasia Sotiropoulos, and Youth Governor Sharif Long) were heard and debated in Third Committee Hearings.  We are so proud of all of our students for devoting their Fourth of July holiday to studying and deliberating on proposals striving to sustain and improve our great country.  We are especially excited that Jared Bouloy’s, Keilan Lewis’, and Sharif Long’s proposals have continued to advance.  Jared Bouloy’s proposal on addressing sexual assault and rape and Keilan Lewis’ proposal seeking to reduce radicalization abroad are slated for discussion in the Washburn General Assembly which will take place today, Wednesday, from 8:00-11:30 AM CT and 5:45-8:00 PM CT.  Live-streaming is available at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/KwgTF7PnJ6e?utm_campaign=ustre.am&utm_source=ustre.am%2F1wH8W&utm_medium=social&utm_content=20170705061643.  Sharif Long’s proposal on addressing the pipeline between public schools and the juvenile criminal justice system has made it to the top and final hearing committee, the Plenary Session, which will be held Thursday from 7:40-11:30 AM CT and 12:30-3:00 PM CT.  Those interested in watching the Plenary Session as well as viewing the Heaton General Assembly can follow along at http://ustre.am/1wFY7. Congratulations are also in order for Abrianna Rhodes, Jonathan Forseth, Evan Vollbrecht, Jordan Clements, Anastasia Sotiropoulos, Jared Bouloy, and Noelle Mitchell, “intent speakers” who are guaranteed space to offer their pro/con positions during the final sessions.  We can’t wait to see what accomplishments and experiences the rest of CONA will bring!

July 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Kicking Off CONA 2017!

Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!  Texas YG is thrilled to have kicked off the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) with our delegation of 25 outstanding students.  After training in Austin Friday night, the delegation arrived at the beautiful YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in North Carolina on Saturday.  Delegates have come to CONA to present their thoughtful proposals describing social problems and outlining solutions on a variety of topics such as outsourcing and job creation, visa allocations, human trafficking, gender-specific healthcare concerns, and prison conditions. They had a chance to share these proposals with other attendees for the first time during Proposal Sharing Groups Saturday night.  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 ten highest-ranked proposals in a Plenary Session.  First Committee Hearings wrapped up Monday morning, and delegates will participate in Second Committee Hearings Monday afternoon and evening. Texas YG is proud of all our delegates including Michael Brown, Jessie Searles, Sharif Long, and Jordan Clements who have respective conference leadership roles in Proposal Sharing Groups, Committee rounds, Conference Life Committee, and Round Tables. We are also celebrating our delegates whose proposals have advanced to the Second Committee Hearings: Jessie Searles, Dani Smith, Anastasia Sotiropoulos, Noelle Mitchell, Keilan Lewis, Jonathan Forseth, Sharif Long, and Jared Bouloy.  Delegates are looking forward to celebrating Independence Day tomorrow with Third Committee Hearings and a special holiday dinner and dance.  More to come later this week!

July 3rd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Summer is Here!

Hello YG’ers

Congratulations to all on the completion of the 2016-2017 school year…it’s summertime!  We hope you all have a safe and enjoyable summer and stay connected with us via social media to get updates on fall program registration as well as national conferences like CONA (coming up in 2 weeks!) and NJC, that YG delegates will be attending.  Our Youth Governor, Sharif Long, has started his summer off in D.C. and is currently participating in Y-USA’s Youth Governors Conference with Youth Governors from across the country. #govcon2017

 

June 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Congratulations 2017 CONA Delegates!

Thank you to all who submitted an application to attend the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) Our selection committee was challenged to select the 25 2017 Texas Delegates. Congratulations to those YG Students who were selected! For those considering applying next year, you are encouraged to reach out to CONA alumni to ask about their experience. It’s never too early to think about how you can become the next CONA delegate.

2017 CONA Delegates – congratulations to all!

April 7th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

CONA application deadline extended!

Texas Youth and Government Students, the CONA application deadline has been extended until midnight on Thursday (3/23/17) this week. If you started an application and did not finish, please log in to complete it. Do not wait!

Adult recommendation forms will still be due 3/31/17. We look forward to reviewing all your excellent applications!

CONA APPLICATION link

March 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Apply today for CONA!

Calling all High School Texas Youth and Government Participants:

The deadline to apply to be a Texas delegate at the upcoming Conference On National Affairs is in only 3 days! We want to encourage any interested student to apply for this wonderful opportunity. CONA is a unique chance for our most outstanding high school participants to travel to North Carolina and debate current issues and events with other Youth and Government students from all over the country. The conference takes place July 1st-6th, 2017.

Apply here by midnight on this Friday, March 17th, 2017, for a chance to be selected! you may also view our 2017 CONA timeline here. Please contact the State Office or your District Director with any questions about the application.

March 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2017 Junior Youth and Government State Conference – Results and Awards

Good morning, friends and supporters of YMCA Texas Youth and Government!

Over the course of the past weekend, middle school students from all across Texas convened in Austin for the Junior Youth and Government State Conference. These students all debated respectfully and advocated passionately for their beliefs in our Legislative and State Affairs Forum sections. In case you missed it, our results and awards presentation from closing ceremony can be found here!

Congratulations to all delegates who participated in a successful 7th Annual Junior Youth and Government Conference! We look forward to seeing you all next year again in Junior Youth and Government or in our High School program!

March 7th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments