Pedernales Electric Cooperative District 7 Director and Board President Dr. Patrick Cox, back row, left, and PEC CEO John D. Hewa, back row, right, with the 2015 PEC Youth Tour contest-winning students at the Nov. 20 reception at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. The winning students are, front row from left, Danielle Snow, Leander High School; Lois Bronaugh, Jack C. Hays High School and Nathan Archibald, Leander High School. Back row, second from left, are Emily Moseley, Lago Vista High School; McKelle Winsor, Leander High School and Matthew Archibald, Leander High School.
2015 Youth Tour Contest
For the 33rd year, Pedernales Electric joined other electric cooperatives across the country to participate in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour program. For PEC's 2015 Youth Tour Contest, we asked area high school students to write essays detailing how they would develop their own school community service project.
This year's winners, pictured above, will participate in an expense-paid June 2015 trip to Washington, D.C., to tour historical sites and meet local political representatives.
Click on each student's name below to read excerpts from his or her winning essay.
- Matthew Archibald, Leander High School
The Student to Student Reading Initiative:
Literacy is perhaps the greatest asset any individual could possess in contemporary society. There is hardly an industry or place in life that does not require at least a minimal degree of language proficiency. Poring over the pages of a fantastical novel, or absorbing the insight of a compelling memoir can be some of the most formative educational experiences of a budding adolescent. Yet many children and young adults are deprived of these critical literary ‘adventures’ based on factors that are out of their control. That’s where the ‘Student 2 Student Reading Initiative’, or S2SRI, comes in. This organization, composed of committed volunteers, will provide access to certain reading resources that might not be available to many elementary level pupils.
The main purpose of the Student 2 Student Reading Initiative will be to distribute literature to elementary aged students, and conjure an unquenchable thirst for learning inside of these pupils by guiding them along the early stages of their academic journey.
- Nathan Archibald, Leander High School
The Student Anthropology and Oral History Club:
Every member of our community has a narrative only they can tell. When a person grows older, their personal testament to the past becomes in danger of being lost without documentation. Every day, innumerable memories are buried by the relentless sands of time when those who hold them pass on. These ethereal fragments of the past are eternally gone, and whatever unique historical insights they may have offered have left with them. The Student Anthropology and Oral History Club (or SAOCH) will answer the challenge of recording and transcribing these previously unwritten memories, preserving them for future generations. The program will empower teenagers across the school district to actively learn about the rich history of our state, and instill into them a life-long love of learning. This enriching organization will build valuable relationship and language skills, with a plethora of lasting applications.
- Lois Bronaugh, Jack C. Hays High School
The Destination Vacation Project:
Ever been to Hawaii? Or maybe Paris? They’re beautiful places to visit. Everyone deserves to have their dream vacation, but sometimes people just can’t, and it isn’t possible to take these locations to them… or is it?
Hays County has over 25,000 citizens over the age of 60, many of whom are confined to care centers and assisted living homes and without the ability to travel around the globe to the many wonders of the world. It is [Lois’] wish to bring these places to them. As seniors…, these older people have gained wisdom, experience, and every emotion, but they are often forgotten by the booming younger generations and feel trapped because of their age. To cure these feelings of imprisonment and fulfill possible childhood dreams of travel, [Lois] propose[s] to create an organization — aptly named “Destination Vacation” — focused on bringing their vacation to them in a project that will bring joy and connection to the world around them.
- Emily Moseley, Lago Vista High School
Cultivate a Campus:
There is an opportunity in this project for an unimaginable community wide impact to take root. The process of gardening yields just as beautiful a benefit as the crop. Students will be given time to step away from the iPads, the MacBooks and the iPhone screens for a portion of their day. They will be able to rejoice in the simple, rewarding task of growing something. The vast majority of students will spend a continuous seven hour school day inside, without a second thought. This is a chance to bring students, quite literally, back to their roots, before all the technology invaded their lives. It would be incredibly refreshing.
With the creation of these gardens, to be kept up with by the extracurricular clubs on each campus, all food that is grown could be sent home to those who ask for it on the free or reduced lunch system. Just because a student is receiving a meal at school doesn't mean they always have another waiting for them at home.
- Danielle Snow, Leander High School
Project Broken Windows:
The “Broken Windows Theory” was created in the early 80’s to explain the development of crime-infested neighborhoods. According to this theory, if a broken window goes unrepaired for a while, more windows will be broken. However, this theory does not apply only to broken windows. The windows are more of [an] analogy to human behavior, (Wilson & Kelling). For example, if one person in a neighborhood does not mow their lawn and does not keep their house in decent shape, the value of the house decreases. This decrease in one house’s value can cause the whole neighborhood’s value to decrease. Good, law-abiding families move out and careless people move in. These lackadaisical people continue the tradition of not mowing their lawns or cleaning their houses causing the reputation of the neighborhood to deteriorate drastically. Over time, the unsatisfactory appearance of the neighborhood will overflow into other neighborhoods, and eventually the whole community will be labeled as a poor, crime-infested area, all because one person didn’t mow their lawn.
This project “would do beautification projects at [Leander High] school and throughout [the] community. This club would paint over graffiti, plant trees and various plants, clean up litter, and promote a non-vandalic school environment. While working at the school level, …students could also carry their work out into the community by volunteering to mow lawns, paint fences, wash cars, paint over graffiti, clean up storefronts, pick up litter, etc. Making the school look better would help keep the vandalism and disrespect of school property at bay. It would also encourage students in their studies since the overall mindset of the school would be more positive towards education.
- McKelle Winsor, Leander High School
The Shrinking America Project:
High schoolers spend an average of seven hours a day, five times a week, at school. That’s not even including extra curriculars and work. No recess means these teenagers hardly see the sunlight during these seven hours and are for the majority of the time cooped up in a classroom, sitting in desks. Sure, there are some movements to promote good health and put a stop to the rising child obesity problems, such as Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move organization. Yet, it’s not enough to just replace a white hamburger bun with a whole wheat one! In order to overcome this increasing problem, students need four things: exercise, fresh air, a healthy diet, and information.
In order to promote these four necessities, the Leander Independent School District would greatly benefit from a club, dedicated to the health of its participants. This club, called ‘Shrinking America’, will be held every other day after school…During this hour, the leaders will rotate between a brief exercise, a group activity outside, and health tips for the week…“Shrinking America” is open to children, teens, and adults ages 7 and up. Because it’s never too early or too late to learn and live a healthy lifestyle! Plus, kids will be much more motivated to live healthy if their parents are as well!
Keep up with PEC Youth Tour on social media: