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CAST Schools Launches 4th Annual Speak Up! Speak Out! Regional Civics Fair
CAST Schools Speak Up! Speak Out!


The 4th Annual CAST Schools Speak Up! Speak Out! Regional Civics Fair kicked off virtually in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, the Texas A&M University-San Antonio, and our title sponsors, Up Partnership and Our Tomorrow. Speak Up! Speak Out!, also known as SUSO, is a civic education program. “The purpose of Speak Up! Speak Out! is for young people to activate their voice and discover the power they have to change their communities for the better,” shared Jeanne Russell, Executive Director for the CAST Schools Network. 

Over the next few months, students from the CAST Schools Network and schools across the San Antonio region will form teams and identify an opportunity to strengthen their community. Previous contestant, and CAST Tech Junior, Michael Hetler, shared that SUSO, “…was an eye-opening experience. It helped me see what it’s really like in the world and give a real presentation.” After forming teams and identifying an opportunity, students will need to conduct research and interview submit matter experts and leaders in the community.

Speed Interviewing Day

To enhance the SUSO experience, student teams will be connected with subject matter experts and community leaders during Speed Interviewing DayStudents have an opportunity to directly question subject matter experts in the field, testing their ideas and approaches in a real-world setting. Through this process, students feel seen and heard, vet and strengthen their opinions, and recognize that their ideas matter and can make a difference. More importantly, they leave feeling confident and ready to advance their idea further. This year’s Speed Interview Day will be hosted virtually on Monday, December 6, from 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM. To volunteer and to share your expertise with students, click here to register or for more information.

Road to the State Finals

The regional semifinals will be a virtual event on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Select teams will then advance to the regional finals at the University of Texas at San Antonio on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. A smaller group will be selected subsequent to the regional finals to advance to the state competition hosted by the Annette Strauss Institute at the Texas State Capitol. “We’re very excited to see what projects come out of San Antonio,” shared Heather Vaughn, Senior Educational Outreach Coordinator for the Annette Strauss Institute. “CAST Schools has a lot of great ideas planned to support and scaffold for students to explore these topics that they’re passionate about.” The theme for this year’s state civics fair is, “Reimagining our World.” In addition to the opportunity to advance to the state finals, Leroy Adams, Youth Voice Manager for Up Partnership and Our Tomorrow announced that this year, ” We’re even more excited to have the Our Tomorrow Youth Grant Committee, which is a group of high school students, who will be offering grants to their peers and who will also serve as judges and funders for the SUSO event.” 

A Monument for the People

The launch coincided with the announcement of Mark Menjivar as Artist-In-Residence for the CAST Schools Network and the unveiling of the civics fair guiding prompt and art project, A Monument for the People. The prompt and art project “Will help our youth to recognize the strengths in their community and to create ways to amplify and improve on those strengths,” shared Jeanne Russell. The Monument for the People is a participatory art project that works with students to reimagine what monuments are and who they are “for” in our community. During the school year, students from each CAST School campus will work with Mark Menjivar on creating temporary installations on their campus. Next year the team will work together to display the project in public places and invite the larger San Antonio community to participate.

The deadline to register for the CAST Schools Speak Up! Speak Out! Regional Civics Fair and State Competition is Monday, October 25th, 2021. Middle Schools and High School students across the greater San Antonio region are invited to participate. For more details or information, visit




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