Highlights from Patriot Academy 2010

Group picture with Rick Green

Left to right: yours truly, Rick Green, Priscilla, and Jonathon

I had the tremendous privilege to return to Patriot Academy this year, this time in company with two of my siblings, Jonathon and Priscilla. Patriot Academy is always such an inspiring, educational, and helpful event, and this year was one of the best. Here are some of the highlights of the week:

1. Priscilla’s Immigration Bill

Priscilla debating her immigration bill

Priscilla and her chief ally, former Speaker of the House Jennifer Lackey

Priscilla brought her own version of Arizona’s immigration law to Patriot Academy. This was her first year, but she worked the system well. I think she was one of the few Patriots to speak with her committee members about the bill individually before bringing it up in a meeting. This is one of the keys to getting it passed.

We had an amusing situation while she was presenting it on the House floor. Everyone was in favor of the bill, except one of the mentors, a former Patriot himself. He believes that the Old Testament command to treat the stranger in the land as one of your own precludes harsh anti-illegal immigration policies. So while she’s debating her bill at the front mic, he’s in the center of a large huddle out on the floor attempting to sway opinions against her. Fortunately, he didn’t get anywhere and the bill passed unanimously, moved through the Senate, and was signed by the Governor. Hurray!

2. The Term Limits Debate

Hannah debating Jonathon on term limits

Me at the front mic and Jonathon at the back

The Hill family doesn’t always agree on policy issues, and term limits is one big source of debate around our dinner table. Jonathon is staunchly for, and I am staunchly against. One of the freshmen, Kaylee Cowan, brought a term limits bill, and after consulting with one of our mentors, David Simpson (soon to be Representative Simpson), I decided to speak against the bill.

So I took to the front mic and started explaining why I think it’s a bad idea. Jonathon went to the back mic and started asking if I would yield for a question. I was on a roll and wanted to finish what I was saying, so I refused. He kept heckling me and I kept ignoring him, much to everyone else’s amusement. When I finished, I was so carried away that I completely forgot to say that I would now yield for questions, and just left the mic, much to the chagrin of Jonathon and the lineup behind him. So sorry about that, guys!

And when I got back to my desk, I found a note of praise and encouragement from Jonathon. Is that a statesman, leader, and awesome older brother or what??? Love you, Jonathon! <3

Hannah and Jonathon voting on the House Floor

One finger signifies an "aye" vote, and two a "nay". As soon as folks noticed us standing like this, a ripple of laughter spread and cameras came out. (photo courtesy of Matt Cassady)

3. Chairing the Elizabeth Lewis Committee

At Patriot Academy, committees are not assigned by topics. The students are simply divided up into groups and each committee hears the bills brought by its members. I was asked to chair the Elizabeth Lewis committee (named after the wife of one of the signers of the Declaration), and it was a real joy. Most of the members were freshmen, but they were sharp, professional, well-mannered, and  extremely focused. I am convinced that I had the best committee in the House. 🙂

Committee debates are always a lot of fun, and we went through a lot of interesting bills. Our thinking was challenged, we learned a lot about the various topics, and we got some experience applying principle to policy. We had two outstanding committee mentors, Les Best and Matt Krause, who were very knowledgeable, informed, and insightful. They provided excellent leadership and input, and even played devils’ advocate a couple of times. So much fun!

committee picture coming soon

4. Meeting David Simpson

One of the best parts of Patriot Academy is the new friendships you form, and this year we met one of the most amazing gentlemen ever.

Group picture with David Simpson

The three of us with Mr. David Simpson

Mr. David Simpson is a homeschool father who ran for Texas State House in the Primary last March. It was a David vs. Goliath fight against an incumbent RINO, but Mr. Simpson pulled off an unlikely victory with the help of God. He is running unopposed by a Democrat in the general election. I’m told that his only opponent is a Libertarian, who is more liberal than Mr. Simpson. I don’t anticipate any trouble there!

Mr. Simpson came to help mentor the students this year, but he had such a humble, teachable spirit all week. He had such valuable insight on the various issues, but made it clear that he was there to learn as well. He was such an example of character and integrity to us, and it was a privilege to be able to learn from him and get to know him a little. I am so excited that he’s going to the Texas House. May the Lord raise up many more like him!

5. The Workshops and Sessions

The leadership at Patriot Academy always brings a stellar set of speakers to address the students throughout the week, but none are better or more beloved than our own Rick Green and Kathi Seay (affectionately known as “Mama Seay”). Their talks were always so practical, inspiring, and insightful.

Rick Green's public speaking workshop

Rick Green's public speaking workshop (photo courtesy of Anna Becker)

Kathi Seay's public policy workshop

One of Mama Seay's policy workshops

Some of the material you hear at PA is new, and some is the same every year, but the things that are repeated are the best. This material forms the backbone of Patriot Academy, and basically consists of what it means to be a conservative, and how to be effective at it. After four years of PA, it was exciting to feel like I’m finally started to “get” some of it, but this will be material that I refer back to all my life.

6. The Graduation Dinner

Table setting at graduation dinner

One of the desserts on Priscilla's table. My piece was chocolate. :-)

Friday evening we had a semi-formal graduation dinner and a “Passing of the Torch” ceremony. Supporters, veterans, and family members filled up the room. We heard from two inspiring speakers, newly-elected TX Senator Brian Birdwell and Krish Dhanam. Mr. Dhanam is an Indian immigrant and one of the most patriotic men I’ve ever seen.

Krish Dhanam delivering keynote address

Mr. Krish Dhanam

After the speakers finished, the veterans in the room were recognized in a moving ceremony. Each soldier’s bio was read, and he was thanked with a round of applause. Following the recognitions, the veterans then participated in the graduation ceremony by awarding each patriot with a medal as their names were called. The medals had a torch emblem, symbolic of passing on the responsibility of protecting and preserving the torch of freedom.

Veteran Bill Johnson speaking with PA student William Simpson

World War II Veteran Bill Johnson and William Simpson (photo courtesy of Anna Becker)

This was followed by the presentations of Patriot Academy awards for statesmanship, skill, courage, etc. and by the announcement of the election results. (The student body elects their own Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House each year. The election was held the previous day, but they made us wait till the dinner to find out who won. Oh the suspense if you were running!)

Marshall Yaklin receives the "Rookie of the Year" award

Marshall Yaklin receives the "Rookie of the Year" award for an excellent job of mastering the legislative system. (photo courtesy of Anna Becker)

It was one of the  most moving and inspirational evenings ever.

Group picture with committee members

At the graduation dinner with several of my committee members: Gabrielle Joransen, Cynthia Umstattd, me, Alex McDonald, Emily Nicholson, and Emily Dilts (photo courtesy of Anna Becker)

7. Friendships and Fellowship

Many times it’s easy to feel like Elijah when he lamented to the Lord, “I, even I only, am left.” At Patriot Academy we are all reminded that there are 7,000 left who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Friendships are formed that will last a lifetime, and memories are made that we will always treasure.

Discussing a bill on House Floor

Discussing a bill with Kaylee Cowan (right) and Bryana Bullock (left).

Kyle Griesinger presenting a bill

Left to right: Bryana Bullock, Joshua Russell, Kyle Griesinger, Jessica Blomgren, and Tara Witter.

At the airport with friends

Hanging out in the airport with (L-R) Sara Anderson, Grace Mosher, Priscilla, Jessica Blomgren (one of my roommates - and yes, she was like that all week), and Jonathon

Patriot Academy students on the Texas Senate Floor

I miss you folks! (photo courtesy of David Simpson)

Rick Green’s charge to us at the end included three take-aways:

Rick Green delivering charge to Patriot Academy Students

Charge to the students (photo courtesy of Anna Becker)

1. Get in the game. Don’t hesitate because you’re scared. We need you right now.

2. You are not alone. There are are millions who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

3. Be a reflection of the light. The meaning of life is not to be the light, but to be a reflection of that light and a conduit of hope.

He closed with these words:

“Make sure that your children have no reason to curse you for surrendering your rights. It’s going to be hard, but freedom is worth it. You know what to do; now go do it.”

Yes Sir!

4 Responses to “Highlights from Patriot Academy 2010”

  1. great post, Hannah! brought back a lot of memories

  2. Awesome post!!!

  3. Hannah – What an awesome reminder of the week of PA. Thank you for showing it to me through your eyes.

    Mama Seay

  4. Fantastic recap! It was definitely one of the best PAs yet! Thanks so much for a great post!