April 1, 2020
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, center, and District A Councilwoman Amy Peck, red top, pose with the Cypress Falls High School Novice Debate team during a trip to City Hall on Feb. 19. The students observed parliamentary procedure and debate between local legislators and spent time with Peck, a Cypress Falls alumna serving her first term on the Houston City Council Member.
By Hunter King, Cypress Falls High School
April 1, 2020—The Cypress Falls High School Novice Debate team traveled in February to City Hall in downtown Houston, as the students were given the opportunity to observe parliamentary procedure and debate between council members firsthand.
Cypress Falls Debate Coach Miranda Fairman, who started the field trip last school year, took more than two dozen students on the Feb. 19 trip.
“For me, it’s all about them understanding the impact they can have on the community,” Fairman said. “They’re young now, but as they grow into adults, I want them to have an appreciation and connection to City Hall and to voting for local representatives because a closer tie that they have to things, the more that they’ll be aware of them.”
In researching for the trip, Fairman found a connection between her students and the local government. Councilwoman Amy Peck is a Cypress Falls alumna currently serving her first term on the Houston City Council Member for District A, which includes parts of the Cypress Falls’ attendance zone.
Houston Councilwoman Amy Peck, right, visits with the Cypress Falls High School Novice Debate team during a trip to City Hall on Feb. 19. Peck is a Cypress Falls graduate and left a positive impression on the students, who credited her journey as an example for them.
“It was really important to me,” Fairman said. “When I told my students, they were a thousand times more interested in going. Also, meeting her was great. She was welcoming and she was excited for us to be there. Her body language said that.
“She spent time with the kids, she allowed them to ask questions and she took pictures. That was probably my favorite part, mostly because she’s an example of what I want my students to aspire to be, even if they don’t want to be a council member, they can see this person that graduated from Cy Falls, that was where they are right now and is taking part in making changes in her community.”
For students likes Cypress Falls sophomore Joanna Benitez, seeing Peck serving a large portion of the nation’s fourth-largest city makes her perceive the capabilities in herself.
“I think it helped a lot of us realize that we can get to where she is or maybe even further,” Benitez said. “I think it’s a really good way to be reminded that we have a future and we can do the same thing.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner signs a balloon after visiting with the Cypress Falls High School Novice Debate team. The students observed parliamentary procedure and debate between local legislators during a trip to City Hall on Feb. 19.
The trip also emphasized the work in the classroom as the real-life parliamentary procedure was exactly what is used in the type of debate the students were learning at the time.
“We can talk about civic responsibility, they’re being exposed to that by seeing stuff like this and I think City Hall and the council meeting was a good place to do it,” Fairman said. “In debate, we are working on our congressional debate and so that is all about legislation and lawmakers discussing and debating different bills that are brought before them and that is exactly what they were doing at City Hall. They were also talking about some of the same topics that we were talking about, so I felt lucky for them to be talking about the same stuff that the students are, so it was really interesting.”