CAST Schools Launches Inaugural
Civics Fair and Youth Rally

Amidst a time of turmoil, youth voice will rise to the forefront on January 19th and 20th as CAST Schools hosts the inaugural Civics Fair and Youth Rally. Students from the CAST Student Advisory, with representatives from the network’s five campuses, designed the 2-day virtual event to elevate student voice and agency, one of the network’s four core pillars. The event will include the regional Speak Up! Speak Out! Civics Fair, local and national speakers, student-led workshops, and the opening of an art installation at the DoSeum.

The two-day event will kick off with a welcome by Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the regional Speak Up! Speak Out! Civics Fair (SUSO). SUSO is a statewide challenge to students to pose solutions to community problems, and San Antonio has hosted a regional civics fair - with CAST as a key partner - as a lead-up to the state civics fair for the past three years. In the middle of the pandemic, instead of beginning with problems, students began by examining strengths in their community to then ask, “What are the gaps and how can we make our city even stronger?” 

To answer that question, CAST Schools partnered with local artist Mark Menjivar who led a series of workshops focused on the following 5 prompts:

  1. Write a collective manifesto for our city by completing, “I am for a city that…”
  2. Take a photograph of the sky above your home. 
  3. Imagine new monuments for our city.
  4. Take a photograph of a meaningful place in your neighborhood.
  5. Write a poem to or about your neighborhood.

The civics fair will be judged by local leaders in education, government, nonprofits and industry, and the awards will be presented by Texas State Sen. José Menendez, a longtime champion of the state fair. The Day 1 keynote speaker is Tony Weaver Jr., an award-winning comic book writer who crafts new media narratives to make young people feel seen and valued.

Luke Mendez, CAST Lead Freshman, shares why Youth Voice matters.

Day 2 of the Youth Rally will kick off with Dallas native Kristen Geez, who focuses on “The Power of Your Name.” Her keynote will springboard into a series of workshops where students examine their individual and collective leadership and power to drive change. Topics include youth advocacy, student life in Mexico, time management, storytelling through zine-making, and spoken word poetry. Local storyteller Lorenzo Gomez III will share from his new novel about the power of culture to drive positive outcomes, and the day will culminate with the unveiling of the art installation at the DoSeum live by Mark Menjivar and several CAST students. 

Students from the CAST Student Advisory will emcee the event, introduce speakers, produce and document, and showcase the power of youth voice and advocacy to create the city that they believe we all deserve.

For more information visit, castschools.com/youthrally/. The Youth Rally events will be live-streamed on the CAST Schools YouTube channel. Tune in to our many local and national speakers. The art installation will remain at the DoSeum through May 2021. The two-day event is part of San Antonio’s DreamWeek.

Sponsors include The Annie E. Casey Foundation, CPS Energy, the DoSeum H-E-B, HOLT CAT, Jungle Disk, T. Donovan Creative and Telemundo San Antonio.

#YouthVoice #WeAreCAST #StudentAgency

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