Prestonwood Christian Academy (PCA) Upper School students had the opportunity to travel to Austin on Tuesday, April 21, to meet with elected officials including the Texas Land Commissioner, State Attorney General, State Representatives and PCA alumni who now work at the Texas Capitol.
“Meeting with house representatives and senators was exciting, but what made it more enjoyable is that they are fellow believers,” said senior Denicia Walker. “I enjoyed being able to pray and encourage these men as they fight for important issues.”
The 18 students began the day in the House Gallery of the Capitol building where several members of the Texas House read and adopted a resolution honoring the work and ministry of Prestonwood Christian Academy. Afterwards, Representatives Ron Simmons and Pat Fallon went to Gallery to meet the students.
The PCA students met with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton where they learned about his role and had the opportunity to ask questions. They also visited the Texas General Land Office to meet with Land Commissioner George P. Bush. PCA alumnus Aaron DeLeon (2010), who serves as the Special Assistant to the Land Commissioner, arranged the meeting.
“It's always great to see students who are interested in public service,” said DeLeon. “It's even greater to see students from Prestonwood visiting with some of today's top public servants. The students at PCA are truly tomorrow's leaders.”
The group gathered in the Old Supreme Court Room on the third floor of the Capitol and visited with several elected officials, staff members and lobbyists. State Rep. Scott Sanford was the first to visit. Rep. Sanford is not only a member of the Texas House, but also the Executive Pastor at Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church. He spoke with the students about several bills and highlighted his efforts to pass HB 3567, a bill that would protect clergy from legal repercussions if they refused to marry a couple for reasons that violated their sincerely held beliefs.
Laura Colangelo, Executive Director of Texas Private School Association, who works with the private school non-profit advocacy group spoke to the students about SB 4. The bill, introduced by State Senator Larry Taylor, would give lower income families an opportunity to receive funds to help pay for a private school education through scholarships funded by businesses who are then given tax credits.
Representatives Scott Turner, Matt Shaheen and Jeff Leach as well as State Senator Van Taylor each made time to visit with the PCA contingency. Rep. Leach specifically discussed his bill, HB 205, which would prohibit organizations performing abortions from providing human sexuality or family planning instruction or instructional materials for use in a public school. Rep. Matt Shaheen spoke about his bill, HB 1355, which would make it a criminal offense for an elected official to threaten, punish or intimidate any person based on that person’s religious beliefs.
In addition to the elected officials, a representative from a pro-family organization called Texas Family joined to help inform the students about the legislative process and encouraged them to get involved to make a difference for their community.
Three PCA alumni, Alyse Ullery (2011), a policy analyst for State Senator Konni Burton, Garrett Paulette (2012), a University of Texas at Austin student interning for Rep. Matt Shaheen, and DeLeon also visited with the current PCA students. They encouraged them to follow their passion and to keep their convictions strong.
“I was in high school when I found my passion in civil service, but I never would have discovered it without the influence of other young people who were pursuing that same passion,” said Ullery. “As an alumna, I hoped to inspire current students who might be interested in how they can influence our governmental process. There is a way to influence politics as a young person, and I hope by sharing my experience as a policy analyst that I can encourage more PCA students to work towards changing Texas politics for the better.”
Prestonwood Christian Academy has more than 1,600 students enrolled at three campuses: Plano (Pre-Kindergarten 3 through 12th grade), PCA North in Prosper (Pre-Kindergarten 3 through 5th grade) and PCAplus Virtual Academy. The school has been recognized as having one of the strongest Christian education programs in the country providing intentional biblical worldview training and integration. PCA places great value on the growth of students’ spiritual health in addition to their scholastic endeavors and co-curricular activities. In addition to PCA’s spiritual development plan, the school promotes a rigorous Liberal Arts academic program. PCA is currently accepting applications for the 2015-16 school year. Interested families are invited to take a Thursday tour of either campus. Please visit www.prestonwoodchristian.org for more information!