While there is no regular Texas legislative session scheduled for 2012, the Capitol has seen plenty of parliamentary activity so far this year. Students from across the state convened there January 26-29 and February 24-26 for the YMCA Youth and Government and Jr. Youth and Government State Conferences. Several members of the McKinney Boyd High School and Dowell Middle School contingents served in distinguished roles during the conferences, and eleven student delegates from McKinney ISD received noteworthy recognition — including three who will move on to compete at the national level.
Sponsored by YMCA, Youth and Government is a national program that provides opportunities for high school and middle school students to explore the complexities and challenges of several areas of the political process. The legislative section challenges students to draft proposed legislation and then, through skillful debate, garner enough votes to see their bills pass. Other program sections focus on areas such as the judicial-appellate process, media and trial court procedures. Two McKinney ISD campuses, Boyd High School and Dowell Middle School, conduct Youth and Government clubs.
At the high school Youth & Government Conference held in January, Kire Jackson, a freshman at McKinney Boyd High School, was elected President Pro Tem of Hyde House and conducted the legislative proceedings for the session. Samuel Lawrence and Luca Greco, also freshmen at McKinney Boyd, were named distinguished delegates.
Jackson and Lawrence have been selected to join approximately 700 of the country’s most skilled high school debaters this summer at the Conference for National Affairs to be held June 29-July 6 at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Greco will serve as an alternate.
“For the first time, McKinney delegates will represent Texas at the Conference for National Affairs,” said Judith Anderson-Bruess, MISD Youth and Government Coordinator and social studies teacher at Dowell Middle School.
McKinney Boyd High School Principal Rick McDaniel cited his students’ hard work as a key factor in their success and expressed confidence in their ability. “I have no doubt that they will represent McKinney ISD and specifically McKinney Boyd High School to the highest degree,” he said. “They are, without doubt, some of the best debaters our state has to offer, and we are all excited for them and this wonderful opportunity.”
A month after the high-school conference wrapped up, 45 students from Dowell Middle School competed in Austin at the Jr. Youth and Government State Conference. Dowell 8th grader Mandy Wallner served as Youth State Governor for the conference, presiding over the opening and closing of the session, signing bills and at times wielding the power of the veto. Evaluators were complimentary of 8th grader Hunter Watson in his role as Speaker of the House, and they were also impressed with the poise and knowledge displayed by 8th grader Hannah Copley as she conducted proceedings as President Pro Tem of the Senate. Seventh grader Lauren Patton served as Chief Clerk in the House Chambers and was also chosen as acting Lieutenant Governor.
In addition, nine Dowell Middle School students received recognition at the conference for their remarkable debate skills and procedural knowledge:
Josie Ewell (8th): Outstanding Delegate in Duran House
Hannah Copley (8th) and Priya Christensen (8th): Outstanding Chair and Clerk.
Quentin Heuval (7th): Outstanding Delegate in the House
Jeffrey Wang (6th): Outstanding Staff in the House
Brittany Labadie (7th): Outstanding Statesmen in the House
Alexa Greco (7th): Outstanding Delegate in the Senate
Justin Potts (8th): Outstanding Delegate in the Senate
Tori Chiancone (6th): Outstanding Staff in the Senate
Next year, a Dowell Middle School representative will occupy the governor’s seat once again. Seventh grader Lexi Thorson was elected by the assembled delegates to serve as Youth State Governor for the 2012-2013 YMCA Jr. Youth and Government State Conference.
Dowell Middle School Principal Dr. Logan Faris praised the efforts of his students. “They have worked diligently since August in preparation for the Regional and State Conferences and were very successful,” he said. “I was proud to attend the state conference in Austin in February and have the opportunity to see our student leaders in action. I am amazed to watch our students presiding over committee and chamber proceedings as well as debating and arguing their legislative bills.”
“Ms. Anderson-Bruess has worked tirelessly along with our students to develop what I believe to be the most successful Junior Youth & Government program in the state of Texas,” said Dr. Faris.