Beyond the Classroom: Texas City High’s Empowering Experience at Student Legislative Seminar

March 2-7 saw twelve students and three teacher chaperones from Texas City High School in Washington, DC for one of the Institute’s Student Legislative Seminars.  This is the 13th time Texas City has participated in this program, and with chaperones who have experienced the trip before on hand with us again, the trip just keeps getting better and better! The Spring 2024 trip included a White House tour and a chance meeting with a celebrity.

Students from Texas City High School on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during a 2024 Student Legislative Seminar

The Institute’s seminars specializes in small group experiences that not only prioritize civility skills, but also empower students to make their own choices and teaches critical thinking.  All of this plants seeds for what the students expect from themselves and others in the future.

Going to DC in early March meant that we were just ahead of the cherry blossoms, but that also meant we were ahead of the crowds – a real bonus whether traveling on the Metro or enjoying the museums and monuments, all of which we did.  We all visited some places (such as Arlington Cemetery, the National Holocaust Museum, National Archives, the Sculpture Garden and the National Museum of African American History and Culture).  Students got to choose between some of the other museums they wanted to see.  And of course we all took a tour of the Capitol, made a quick stop at the Supreme Court, and visited the Library of Congress. 

Students also spent time with alumni from their high school who now live and work in DC.  Retired U.S. Navy Flag Officer John Butler encouraged the students in furthering their education, and Jacob Lukas shared his journey from high school to Congressional House staff person for a member of Congress.  Jacob had gone on a Student Legislative Seminar with the Institute twice in years past, and said his experiences on the trips had a direct influence in the vocation he has pursued.

Something we don’t always get to do is tour the White House, but on this trip we were able to do so.  The students were thrilled when they met actress Jennifer Garner while they were waiting in line.  She was also there to tour along with a group of students, and was extremely gracious in posing for a photo with our group.  They also enjoyed visiting with some of the people in the White House who work there every day.

But what makes these trips different from so many others is the work the students put in on issues about which they have concerns.  This group chose food safety, gun violence and the Federal budget as their issues.  They received briefings from the FDA, the American Public Health Association, and the Bipartisan Policy Center on these concerns.  Afterwards the students worked together to craft position statements and/or questions they could all agree on for each of these issues.  Then they met with Senate staff and directly with their Representative, Congressman Randy Weber, to share their thoughts.

A final celebration dinner at Gatsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria capped off a packed schedule and shared labors.  The students went home with new friends, new confidence, new skills, and memories to last a lifetime.

Our thanks to the Texas City Rotary Club for underwriting the cost of the trip! 

If you would like to bring this program to a school near you, please let us know! NOW is the time to start planning for 2025. This is a program that deserves to grow, as we start preparing the citizen leaders for tomorrow today. Learn more about Student Legislative Seminars.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *