CAGT's Legislative Day is held the Thursday after Presidents' Day each February. This year it will be Thursday, February 19, 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; Legislative Day allows students (grades 8 - 12) to learn more about the legislative process. Students may apply for the unique opportunity to shadow a state Legislator for the day. The interaction with students and adults also gives Legislators new insight about this population as they represent Colorado.
Gifted students and adults from across Colorado will have an extraordinary day absorbed in the process of political debate and lawmaking with members of the Colorado General Assembly. The Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented will mark its 16th year sponsoring this annual event to celebrate excellence in the presence of exceptional learners, their teachers, their parents, their advocates and those elected to represent Colorado’s future.
Students may apply to shadow a legislator. Students may also participate in Legislative Day without being student shadows but as members of a chaperoned group; often this is with a special school group accompanied by an educator. However, students can also register individually and will be placed with a group. Adult advocates who are not chaperoning a group can come to Legislative Day for a special session about legislation issues related to gifted education.
Whether shadowing or participating with a group, students who choose to invest in researching current bills and learning about the legislative process will be well on their way to a most productive and engaging experience at the Capitol. Shadowing provides only one means to connect, but it is a great opportunity for those who are equipped to handle the adult environment at the Capitol and represent themselves maturely in the legislative arena.
The Schedule for Students
The event begins across the street from the State Capitol at the Scottish Rite Masonic Hall, 1370 Grant Street (Lower Level), Denver, CO with Check-In and Registration from 7:00 - 7:30 a.m. An Orientation Program follows from 7:30 - 8:15 a.m. so that students know what to expect; this is required for all student shadows.
Then student shadows head over to the Capitol to meet the Colorado state legislator who they will shadow. When possible, student shadows are paired with a legislator from their area. Student shadows follow along with their assigned legislator as they go about their duties.
The students reconvene for lunch back at the Masonic Hall. Many Legislators join the student group for lunch and there is the opportunity for discussion at the table. Following lunch there is a Forum in which students can ask questions of a panel of legislators.
This session has given students a greater feeling of connectedness to the legislative process. Further, the students' insightful questions give Legislators a feel for student concerns and also a new appreciation for high abilities and level of engagement of gifted students.
After lunch students can observe the proceedings from the House or Senate gallery. CAGT staff will be available at the Scottish Rite Masonic Hall (1370 Grant St) throughout the day until 3:00 p.m. Some families or student groups arrange for their own tour of the Capitol afterwards. Some tips for enjoying Legislative Day, as well as suggested additional activities related to Legislative Day, can be found here. Read a review of a past CAGT Legislative Day here.
For Adult GT Advocates
Educators, parents and other community members with an interest in Gifted and Talented have an opportunity to learn about current legislative initiatives that affect our gifted children. This will be from 9:30 - 11:30 and is free. If advocates wish to stay for lunch and the lunchtime forum with the Legislators from 11:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.at the Scottish Rite Masonic Hall, they must register and there is a fee of $25.
Application and Registration Process
The application process openned the first week of January. The forms can be found here. Please compile ALL information BEFORE completing the forms online.
Middle and high school GT specialists, counselors, and social studies, civics, and forensics/debate teachers are asked to consider a FEW outstanding 8th through 12th grade students for recommendation to shadow a state legislator for this exceptional day.
Applications must be completed online, including the required essay, before students will be considered for the shadowing program. Keep in mind that the Student Shadow Checklist includes: Registration, Shadow Application, Parent Permission/Teacher Recommendation and payment; applications are not complete until everything is submitted, including payment. The deadline for completed student applications for student shadowing is January 30, 2015.
The deadline for other student participants (grades 8 - 12, accompanied but not student shadows) to register and submit payment is February 6, 2015. The deadline for adult participants is also February 6, 2015.
Article by Kathee Jones.