Dowell Middle School 8th grader Mandy Wallner will take over Texas’ executive branch for three days in February, as Governor at the 2012 YMCA Texas Junior Youth and Government State Convention in Austin on February 24-26. With her signature, Wallner will have the final say on bills passed by her peers during a mock legislative session in the Texas House and Senate chambers. The opportunity is the result of Wallner’s hard work and skillful campaigning as a participant in the Youth and Government program at Dowell Middle School in McKinney.
Sponsored by YMCA, Youth and Government is a national program that allows high school and middle school students to explore the complexities and challenges of the political process. Two McKinney ISD campuses, Boyd High School and Dowell Middle School, conduct Youth and Government clubs.
Dowell Middle School social studies teacher Judith Anderson-Bruess says that by researching, drafting and debating their own proposed legislation, her 55 middle school Youth and Government students develop public speaking, critical thinking and writing skills as well as the valuable experience of working as part of a team to accomplish a specific goal. The immediate goal is the District 5 Conference to be held on December 10 in Irving. There, the Dowell Middle School delegates will present their bills to their public and private school peers from Dallas, Highland Park, Garland, Irving, Richardson, Frisco, Allen, Coppell and Carrollton. Those who successfully navigate the political landscape and garner the votes to pass their bills will move on to the ultimate goal, the Junior Youth and Government State Convention in Austin, where they will present their legislation before hundreds of delegates from across the state.
It was at the District 5 Conference in late 2010 that Mandy Wallner began her bid for Governor of the 2012 JY&G State Convention. Campaigning alongside other students from District 5, Wallner earned enough votes to put her in the Governor race at the 2011 JY&G State Convention this past February. She went to work at the convention with a campaign poster and the time-honored strategy of getting out among the voters, visiting every committee room and meeting all the delegates. She spoke before the assembled state delegates and won the necessary votes to claim the office and duties that she will perform February 24-26. “I love Youth and Government, and I can’t wait to fulfill my duties as Governor and set precedents for my successor,” says Wallner. “It is a great honor.” On Monday, December 5, Wallner was honored for her accomplishment with a breakfast at the YMCA in McKinney. McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy, McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller and Dowell Middle School Principal Dr. Logan Faris were among those in attendance.
Dr. Faris has high praise for the Youth & Government program, “It is a wonderful program that promotes citizenship, scholarship and dedication. The Dowell Middle School delegation has worked very hard along with Judith Anderson-Bruess who serves as their sponsor. We are especially proud of Mandy Wallner who is serving as the Governor for the 2011-2012 Junior Youth & Government Convention. Special thanks go to YMCA’s Sydney Hewitt for her support of our students and staff as well.”
At this year’s state conference, three of Wallner’s fellow Dowell Middle School delegates will run for office. Seventh-grader Lexi Thorson will make a bid for Governor of the 2012-2013 JY&G State Convention, 8th grader Hunter Watson will run for Speaker of the House and 8th grader Hannah Copley will seek the Speaker of the Senate seat. The program has had quite an impact on Thorson. “I found my thing,” she says. “I love Youth and Government.”
Boyd High School Youth and Government students will convene in Austin in January for the high school Youth and Government State Convention. The high school program broadens the government experience as students participate in not only legislative processes but judicial, appellate, state affairs, media broadcasting, cyber broadcasting, Hyde House and the Governor’s Cabinet as well. At this year’s convention, Boyd 9th grader Kire Jackson will run for Speaker of the House for Hyde House. She has the experience to do the job. Last year she oversaw the proceedings at the Junior Youth and Government State Convention as the Speaker of the House.
As McKinney ISD students like Mandy Wallner and her contemporaries learn and grow through the challenging opportunities afforded through the YMCA Youth and Government program, it’s refreshing to know that the time and energy invested by teachers like Judith Anderson-Bruess pay dividends not only in the lives of our students, but in the future of our state as well.
For additional information on the YMCA Youth in Government program, please contact Sydney Hewitt, YMCA Teen Director at 972-529-2559 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Specialist, at 469-742-4007 or email@example.com
Pictured at Top: Mandy Wallner attended a McKinney YMCA breakfast honoring her election as Governor for this year’s YMCA Texas Junior Youth and Government State Convention. Pictured are (l-r) McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy, Mandy Wallner, McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller and Dowell Middle School Principal Dr. Logan Faris.