The Ottumwa Courier


October 4, 2012

Iowa Youth Congress strives to make a difference

OTTUMWA — There are no middle school kids sitting in the Representative chairs at the Capitol in Des Moines. So they’ll have to wait until next year.

Sue Huff of Ottumwa said the high school-aged students involved in Iowa Youth Congress will soon head to the Capitol building to show how much they’ve learned about government — and to learn more.

“These are my volunteers from Iowa Kids University,” said Huff, the director of the organization.

A board started that group after Big Brothers Big Sisters closed their Ottumwa chapter. A friend told her they were having trouble finding participants for the youth congress, so Huff asked her most enthusiastic volunteers. She was also able to bring something that was lacking in those Des Moines chambers: Hispanic voices.

Many said yes, including those too young to participate in the mock congress in 2012.

“We’re looking forward to next year,” said Roberto Espinoza, a middle school student.

The boys in the group, all in middle school, are practicing this year.

“So we can be prepared for next year,” said Jacinto Rivera.

The girls, all high school age, are headed to Des Moines soon. They were at the Ottumwa Public Library, practicing with their coach, Frances Collins-Dusseault.

The girls said they are in the club to learn how to make a difference — and to do so. They also want to see political representation from every group, including Hispanics.

“I’m so proud of them,” whispered Huff in the back of the room.

The girls were working on “bills” like making Martin Luther King Day a more educational holiday to teach about civil rights. They did well last year, Huff said, and she’s expecting great things this year, too.

The boys don’t want to feel left out. So Daniel Ramirez, 13, said since they’re not taking their ideas for improving the community to Des Moines, they thought they’d see what they could do in Ottumwa.

“We want to improve the soccer program for kids,” he said.

They middle school guys had written out their plan, which included three basics: improved field maintenance, better equipment and more training for the coaches.

“In middle school, they don’t have an official team,” he added.

Learning about government and about how to get things done is one of the ways to demonstrate good citizenship, said Marvin Moreira.

Espinoza explained that good citizens include people doing things in which “we’re helping not just ourselves, but other people in the community.”

Text Only
  • IHCC buildings.jpg Grant helps Hills keep students on track

    OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0710 OTT Bulldogs update color photo -L -M High school students lead Bulldog charge

    OTTUMWA — Two Ottumwa High School students gave their very first press conference Wednesday morning to share their progress on decorating Ottumwa with large bulldog statues. Alyssa Cash and Madyson Feather joined Main Street Ottumwa Executive Directo

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0710 OTT Smart snacks color photo -M -L Schools adopt new food regulations

    OTTUMWA — This fall, students across the country will find big changes in the cafeteria, but Ottumwa kids may find they approve of the changes. The new "Smart Snacks in School" standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) went in

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Survey finds math, science grads earn top dollar WASHINGTON (AP) — It seems to matter less whether your alma mater is public or private than what you study — math and science in particular — when it comes to finding a high-paying job after college, according to a report released Tuesday by the Educ

    July 8, 2014

  • Pekin and Tri-County to share superintendent PACKWOOD — Both Pekin and Tri-County Community School Districts have voted to approve Operational Sharing Incentives for superintendent during the 2014-15 school year. During the 2014 legislative session, the Legislature passed and the governor signe

    July 2, 2014

  • Teaching the teachers

    OTTUMWA — The community has formally advised the school district that strong teachers lead to strong students. Now Ottumwa teachers have "coaches" to help them boost educational muscle. Though the idea is now formalized under a Legislative state plan

    May 29, 2014

  • 0525 OTT OHS graduation web-color photo 3 OHS seniors say farewell OTTUMWA - Sunday marked the end of high school for all the graduating seniors from Ottumwa High School. Family and friends of the students packed the Bridge View Center, leaving standing room only for late-comers. You could feel the excitement in the

    May 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • Slideshow: OHS graduation

    May 25, 2014

  • 0524 OTT OCS graduation web-color photo 3 Small ceremony for big achievements OTTUMWA - Saturday was a special day for the four seniors graduating from Ottumwa Christian School. This small graduating class is double the size of last year's class and illustrates the small-group learning style of the school. Family and friends o

    May 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Slideshow: Ottumwa Christian graduation

    May 24, 2014

AP National