Texas Capitol Schoolhouse 2011

By Mari Liles

On Monday, January 31, 2011, five high school Video Technology students along with several staff from TSD exhibited their technology, video, and interview skills for visitors and lawmakers at the Texas Capitol Schoolhouse in the basement Capitol Rotunda using state-of-the-art educational technology. At the beginning of each legislative session, a group of approximately 12 school districts are invited to bring a small representative group of their students along with their teachers to showcase current applications of educational technology being used in their schools today.  This year, the participating students utilized both PCs and Macs while working with video and sound editing, robotics, iPods, iPads, online virtual learning environments, 1:1 laptop computing, online interactive learning and other educational technologies.  TSD students and staff have been invited to participate in this prestigious event a number of times over the past 18 years.

Our five TSD high school Video Technology students; Christian Escamilla, Ernesto Garcia, Jonathan Ford, Omar Valdovinos and Marissa King, under the direction of their teacher, Bobbie Guerra, spent the day interviewing legislators, students from the other participating school districts, visitors, and dignitaries to try to capture the essence of how the budget crisis in the State of Texas might affect education and the technology that all students in the State of Texas rely upon on a daily basis.  The TSD students not only represented our school with the questions they asked the legislators, but they represented questions being asked by many students and educators in the State of Texas.  The Texas economy and budget crisis has dominated the news during this legislative session and this year more than any other years in the past our students understood what the legislators do and how important it was for them to take this opportunity to share their perspective and needs with the lawmakers of Texas.  That added more stress to the preparation for this year’s Texas Capitol Schoolhouse event but the students were more passionate about their issues than other years past.  The interviews that were recorded on video will be compiled and edited by the students in ‘Zealous Studio’ to make the official DVD for the Texas Capitol Schoolhouse that will be shared with the legislators, the schools that participated in the event and the TSD community.

High School Video Technology teacher Bobbie Guerra said. “I am always impressed with the comfort level that our students extend to the other students and legislators who they are interviewing.  Communication is not an issue- the students know how to use interpreters and how to set up the interviews and video shots etc.  Recording good sound quality is always an issue because of the acoustics in the lower rotunda but our students do a GREAT job.  I am always so proud of our students with their leadership role in creating this DVD for the Texas Capitol Schoolhouse.”

It was also a great honor for our senior, Christian Escamilla, to be recognized on the Senate floor by Senator Zaffirini.  Senator Shapiro also took the opportunity in front of the Senate group to recognize TSD for ‘excellence’ and to share the experience she had with our students earlier in the day in the Capitol Rotunda.

Q&A with Christian Escamilla

Describe your experience in participating in the Texas Capitol Schoolhouse project this year?

Participating in the Texas Capital School House was really an eye-opener for me to see all that is going on with our community.  I enjoyed interviewing a variety of people and even getting the chance to interview Senator Shapiro.  It was a really good experience working with my peers and having the opportunity to go out to the community and represent TSD.

How did you feel about being selected to be recognized on the Senate Floor?

Being selected to be on the Senate floor was probably one of the best moments of the entire event. I will never forget the feeling I had when Senator Zaffirini was introducing me.

Comment on your opportunity to meet Senator Zaffirini.

I felt very pleased to meet her and to be a part of such an honorable experience.

What was the most memorable moment for you?

Representing TSD and getting recognized on the Senate floor was the most memorable moment for me.  I would have never thought that my Senator from Laredo would have done the “I love you” sign or would have even known about it.  It was really touching for her to have signed that just for me.

What will be your words of encouragement to the TSD students and community about this experience?

We might often feel as if no one is listening to the Deaf community, but it is our responsibility to put ourselves out there in both communities. You never know whom you might meet or when you might have an opportunity to make a difference.