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Guided by Kids Congressional Invitational A Success!

Last night, May 20, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., Guided by Kids hosted the first ever Middle School Student Congress competition that I know of ever happening in Nebraska. 9 students from Guided by Kids, Millard North Middle School, and Papillion LaVista Middle School completed debate on six pieces of legislation which had been written and proposed by the students themselves: (1)A Bill to Ban the Use of Certain Pesticides on Private Lawns, Playgrounds, Mulched Recreation Areas, and Childcare Facilities, proposed by Guided by Kids; (2) A Bill to Enable Mandatory Prescription Drug Check-ups Until the Prescription is No Longer Needed by the Patient, proposed by Papillion LaVista Middle School; (3) A Bill to Give More Funding to Low Income Schools, proposed by Millard North Middle School; (4) A Resolution to Provide Paid Family Medical Leave, proposed by Guided by Kids; (5) A Bill to Enable Mandatory Parenting Classes in All High Schools, proposed by Papillion LaVista MS; and (6) A Resolution to Eradicate the Ebola Virus, proposed by Millard North MS.


Two high school competitors in Congressional Debate, Eliza Turco from Omaha Marian and Aditya Tadepalli, volunteered their services as Presiding Officers, so the entire three hour session of debate was run with minimal intervention by the adults in the virtual "room" set up via Zoom teleconferencing. One thing I hope everyone reading this understands--these students put in hours of research in advance of this competition in order to write and be prepared to debate legislation, and then participated for the first time in a debate event completely new to them, for three hours, in the evening, during what for most of them was their last or second-to-last week of school!


All I can say is that I have never been happier to see what intelligent, hard-working individuals can do, and I have the highest respect for each competitor, as well as their coaches-- Gregg Learned at Millard North Middle School, and Kevin Wilkinson, at Papillion LaVista Middle School.


In honor of all of the middle school students, and high school volunteers who worked as PO's, I offered to donate $25 personally to non-profits each of them chose. Late last night, as I waited for the three hour video of their competition I recorded on Zoom to transfer to viewable video, I made those $25 donations to these amazing non-profits: Community Alliance, Justice for our Neighbors, the ASPCA, Omaha Against Hunger, the Women's Fund of Omaha, Give Well, Prairie STEM, Feeding America, and The Hope Center. Google those organizations and take a look at who these students chose to help and tell me you don't feel wonderful about a future in the hands of these leaders.


To finish out my evening, I received a message from my Guided by Kids co-teacher, Payton Shudak. She let me know that when she receives her last paycheck at the beginning of June she is going to donate $100 to a non-profit to join the cause of giving back to one's community to help others!


You might ask "Why no photos?" or "Where is that video of the competition?" but I have to receive photo use permission from the non-Guided by Kids students who were with us last night. I also need to have someone help me choose and edit from the raw footage of last night in order to present around 5-10 minutes of the students speaking, questioning, and voting on legislation. When I have those permissions in place, along with a little help from a more tech-savvy friend, I will post again.


Getting to teach young people like I got to work with last night is a pure gift that gives true joy and hope to me, keeps me young and optimistic, and reminds me of the constant, unlimited potential of young learners. I thank everyone who worked on this project with all of my heart, mind, and soul.


Fred Robertson

Director and Co-Teacher

Guided by Kids