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Latino high school students to legislate action

June 26, 2014

High achieving Latino students will debate issues and experience the complex world of government when they participate in the National Hispanic Institute's 25th annual Colorado Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session July 6-13.

Within the first day, participants begin the process of creating their own government, voting for candidates who assume leadership roles in the new government.The Colorado Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session, sponsored by and held on CSU's campus, is a weeklong conference where students engage in a mock legislative process and judicial hearings that examine the assets of the Latino community and its trajectory. Students representing the states of Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas will be in attendance. The event gives high school sophomores and juniors a better understanding of community equity building and a chance to improve their skills in public speaking, organizational management and constituency building.

“The LDZ is a truly inspiring and thought-provoking experience that allows high school sophomores and juniors to engage in leadership and vision-building in a way that most of us do not get to experience until we are much older,” according to Jonathan Goode, program coordinator. “As an alumnus of the program, I can personally attest to the difference it makes in the lives of young people, and how it propels them to not only be good citizens, but also to actively shape the society that we live in.”

Activities give real-life glimpse into government

The session features activities including a general convention, speeches, legislative sessions, Supreme Court trials and committee hearings. Students will campaign for positions such as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, Senator, Attorney, or one of nine Supreme Court Justice Positions. Candidates will make speeches before the delegation and work to build their constituencies. Each student must develop proposals that harness the talents and abilities of their community. Students present and debate the merits of their proposals before their peers and strive to have their ideas passed into law.

Colorado State University and the National Hispanic Institute have co-hosted this event since 1990. To qualify, students must have a 3.2 grade-point average or above and must be enrolled in a college-bound high school curriculum.

Ernesto Nieto, President of the National Hispanic Institute, founded the nonprofit organization in 1979 as a way to encourage young Latino students to enhance their leadership abilities and actively participate in the Latino community. Students interested in participating in the 2015 conference can contact Michelle Wellman at (970) 491-0659.