17 Houston ISD middle school students, from 15 campuses, enjoyed a three-day trip to the capital of Texas. Their participation was part of the Close-Up Washington program that promotes leadership skills among students, explains the traits of a strong democracy, and incentivizes citizens’ active and informed roll in political and social affairs.
In total 166 students from across the state had a hands-on experience. In the three days, the middle schoolers were divided into workshops that addressed how the state government works. Participants visited the State Capitol. There, they explored how the Texas House of Representatives and Senate consider and pass new laws. Scholars also learned about the history of Texas by visiting the Bullock History Museum, the Lyndon B. Jhonson Library, and Pioneer Farms.
During the hotel-based workshops, participants deeply engaged in activities about issues that affect Texans, the three branches of government, and how a bill becomes a law with real examples in the Texas House and Senate.
Meadow Wiggington, one of the instructors, explained that during the workshop The Characteristics of a Good Law students decide for themselves how a law is enforceable, reasonable or just. “We go through actual Texas legislative laws that are applicable now to see how students feel about it if there are things they would change. We get them actively thinking about the laws that surround them every day.”
Finally, scholars had a mock election were in groups —the ‘green’ and ‘blue’ party—, they selected two nominees to run for Governor of Texas. After deliberation, campaign and a voting process, they elected one student as the ‘executive chief’ of Texas.
As the three days came to an end, Jesus —from Stevenson Middle School—, said: “These days have been very fun. We learned about the three branches of government: the judicial, legislative and executive. Today we voted for one candidate and right now we are visiting a farm that replicates how Texans lived back then. I’m very glad.”
Participating HISD campuses:
- Project Chrysalis
- Forest Brook
- M. C. Williams
- Pilgrim Academy
- Forest Brook