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Messaging politicians in an email is one thing; getting down on the chamber floor where state representatives battle over state law to discuss one’s worries is something else entirely. In late February, Dixon Middle School’s Latinos in Action students visited the state Capitol Building to tour the building, sit in on the legislative process, and meet with Representatives Norman K. Thurston, Angela Romero, Senator Luz Escamilla, and Attorney General Sean Reyes to share their concerns about the growing presence of vaping advertisements and storefronts near their school.

Students started their visit during a sit-down meeting with the representatives above. One student delivered an elevator speech regarding a foreseeable vaping issue: the student pointed to specific advertisements and storefronts selling vape products cropping up in their local district, noting that their school faced a greater risk of underage usage due to increased promotion and product availability than other schools in Provos. Representatives took note and agreed to address the matter.

Thanks to Centro Hispano’s help, all of the Latinos in Action students had similar speeches prepared, willingly sharing them after the meeting.

The Representatives also discussed the ongoings of the Capitol Building, each representative sharing how they started their political careers and how students can get involved politically, too. They then invited students to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with them on the House Chamber floor after a tour of the Capitol Building.

The Capitol Building tour guide traced the building’s lineage, trading stories of its history as a private munitions storage, then known as Arsenal Hill, toward its current usage as the Capitol Building. Students roamed the marble hallways and weaved through its many monuments and artworks, settling below the domed rotunda to admire the artwork painted above. 

Art in the cyclorama in the rotunda.

The guide taught students about the Pendentives and Cyclorama, each painting illustrating non-native people exploring the space that would become Utah. 

Students then sat in the gallery of the house chamber, listening to members debate and vote on legislation. From Emergency Security Amendments on affordable power to bills on ecological intervention to save rare sea life, students experienced political heat and fervor sometimes lost in a simple classroom lesson on legislation. 

Students strode in the footsteps of their representatives, met with our state’s political members, walked in their footsteps, and sat in their chairs on The House Chamber floor– and that’s a venture any student would elect to experience.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei