Texas State University’s Associated Student Government hosted San Marcos High School Student Government Day participants at a Student Senate meeting earlier this semester. From left to right: Tommy Luna, Chris Covo, Jonathan Moldenhauer, Krista Tucker and Miguel Arredondo.
The public is invited to attend the San Marcos High School Student Government Day mock meetings, which are being held Dec. 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall, the San Marcos CISD Central Office and the Hays County Commissioners Court.
Students will act as mayor and other city officials as they hold the mock meetings. Entrance to the meetings is free and spectators are welcome to come and go at their convenience.
In addition to the mock meetings, the students will participate in “shadowing” activities, each following an established city government official. The students will be honored at a luncheon in the afternoon at the Embassy Suites, hosted by the City of San Marcos, San Marcos CISD, Hays County and Specialized Public Finance, Inc. Financial Advisory Services.
The Texas State University Associated Student Government (ASG) and the university’s Office of Community Relations teamed up with San Marcos High School to make the event a reality. However, it was a student who got the ball rolling.
San Marcos High School senior and Student Council President Miguel Arredondo took on the project of reviving this once-strong tradition of Student Government Day. He took the project through his Distinguished Achievement Program for Independent Study Students, which is designated by the Texas Education Agency as one of the highest honors a graduating student can receive in the state of Texas.
“I think the people of San Marcos will be surprised at the issues we have put on our agendas,” Arredondo said. “We just didn’t try and give students off-campus lunch. We’re going to discuss SMCISD pay raises, economic development in San Marcos and Hays County, and parks and youth activities.”
Some area residents who graduated from San Marcos High School (SMHS) may find Student Government Day is a blast from the past. In the Distinguished Achievement Program, Arredondo is required to complete a college level project during the course of the school year. During the selection process, he came across an old yearbook with pictures of Student Government Day.
He said, “I decided to pick Student Government Day as my project because I wanted to bring back the discontinued tradition that allowed high school students to learn about how our community is run and what the role of local elected officials play in hopes of developing future leaders.”
Arrendondo will serve as school board president for the day.
Texas State played a supportive part in the project. ASG, which represents Texas State’s student body, played a key role in the development of the program. An ASG Special Committee, hosted by on-campus Senator Jonathan Moldenhauer, ran a voter registration drive, held “Campaigning 101″ sessions at the high school and met with students to identify agenda items for their mock meetings.
SMHS students also attended one of ASG’s Student Senate meetings so they could observe parliamentary procedure and see legislative debate in action. ASG president Chris Covo said, “We are proud to help SMHS students learn more about government. This has been a rewarding experience for Senators and builds on the relationship we already have with the high school through our ‘Bobcat For A Day’ initiative.”
Arredondo spoke to the college students about the importance of bringing back the tradition and how it would impact the lives of AMHS students.
Said Moldenhauer, “The high school students have some great ideas about how to make San Marcos better. It’s been great working with them to develop ideas about parks, youth activities, economic development, mobility and other important issues.”
Said Arredondo, “The support we have received from ASG and the university is making the difference. It’s been great working with the university students and seeing what they have been able to accomplish on campus. It’s been a great partnership.”
The SMHS students are excited to have their voices heard by local officials.
“It’s about time that the elected officials in San Marcos and Hays County see the issues that are important to the youth of San Marcos,” said Amanda Hernandez, who will be occupying the position of City Councilmember, Place 6.
City Clerk Sherry Mashburn held a parliamentary procedure session with the students to familiarize them with the way meetings are run.
Intergovernmental relations were discussed by the students during their preparatory meetings. Rene Pena, who will spend the day as Mayor of San Marcos, said, ““What surprises me the most is the number of interlocal agreements that are being proposed. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of so much cooperation among the school district, city and county.”
This cooperation is key to one agenda item that all three jurisdictions will discuss in their mock meetings. John Pachecho, who will serve as City Councilmember Place 2, said, “The Bowie Park Proposal is one of the most exciting items we have on Friday’s agenda. We really don’t have any large parks on the South side of San Marcos. It’s about time we did.”
The park proposal involves the city, county and school district working together to provide a youth activity/sports complex, an after-school/weekend learning center and greenspace.
Mobility improvements are also being discussed by the city and county students. Edward Davila, who will serve as county commissioner for Precinct 3, said, “The student commissioners court plans on taking immediate action on McCarty Lane. We knew the high school was going to be there for years, but it wasn’t until recently that improvements were actually being made. We plan on doing something now to fix things.”
The students have ideas about recent decisions and future planning for the area. One of the agenda items at the county meeting is a resolution to support the school district joining Austin Community College (ACC) taxing district and asking the sity, county and school district to lower their tax rates to help reduce the additional burden on taxpayers of the ACC tax.
Parisa Tajalli, who will serve as Hays County Judge for the day, said, “The proposal about cutting the district, city and county tax rate to help offset the increase of joining the ACC taxing district might seem unachievable now, but I think it’s a creative idea and it’s worth discussing.”
One of the items the school district students will consider is an off-campus lunch proposal from the student high school principal. Brianne Gonzales, student principal for the day said, “The off-campus lunch proposal is designed to be a reward for students who are academically strong, responsible and have shown they are mature enough to use the privilege wisely.”
Students are hopeful of sending a message to local officials.
“I hope that once Student Government Day is over, the people of San Marcos will look at some of our agenda items and take the decisions we made seriously,” said Shade’ Smith, the student Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the school district. “I personally think that some of our proposals are realistic and achievable.” In recognition of the event, Mayor Narvaiz proclaimed Dec. 11 as “Student Government Day.”
The student meeting agendas are available on the San Marcos CISD webpage in the “San Marcos CISD News” section at www.smcisd.net.
For more information on Student Government Day, call the call the Texas State University Community Relations Department at (512) 245-9104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas State University student volunteer Katherine Zapp assists San Marcos Student Council president Miguel Arredondo as he casts the first vote for Student Government Day positions.
SMHS students and Hays County officials join Mayor Susan Narvaiz (back row, left) Friday on “Student Government Day.”Email | Print