We the Students – Turning Point USA at Yorba Linda High School

Close to 30 volunteers pose for a group picture with journalist Drew Hernandez.

Anjeli Webb, Editor

Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is a “501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk when he was 18 years old. The organization’s mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government” (TPUSA.com). TPUSA brings advocating for the rights of the individual back to high school and college campuses. 

I am proud to be a part of the organization that believes that “the United States of America is the greatest country in the history of the world, the US Constitution is the most exceptional political document ever written, and capitalism is the most moral and proven economic system ever discovered (TPUSA.com).”

Typically, chapters around the country engage in constructive debates and speaker events, while finding ways to bond and create friendships with one another through games, socials, and music.

The Yorba Linda High School chapter of Turning Point USA was founded in 2020 by students Jered Baloloy, Matthew Williams, Kim Williams, and Nolan Stoterau to encourage “freedom, free markets, and limited government.”

Our 2022-2023 executive board currently consists of myself (Anjeli Webb), Vice President Madison Ems, Secretary Colin Bassler, Treasurer Grant Higgins, Events Coordinator Travis Joy, Public Relations Officer Josh Haroutoonian, and Membership Coordinator Dakota Larsen. The board members were elected and appointed for their devotion to liberty, passion for American values, and excellent character. Our faculty advisor is Mrs. Ward.

Turning Point USA has multiple yearly events, including the summer Student Action Summit and winter AmericaFest. The first AmericaFest was held last year and welcomed over 10,000 attendees. Additionally, there are specialized conferences such as the Young Women’s Leadership Conference, Young Black Leadership Conference, and Young Latino Leadership Conference (October 16th in Newport Beach, California). There are also regional conferences like the Western Regional Conference that is coming up on October 14 and 15 in Newport Beach, California. Turning Point USA’s second AmericaFest will be held in Phoenix, Arizona on December 17th to 20th. 

The 2022 Chapter Leadership Summit and Student Action Summit took place in Tampa, Florida this summer, and I was thrilled to be able to attend! 

The first few days consisted of the Chapter Leadership Summit where more than 300 Turning Point USA chapter leaders from across the country (there were many international students as well) learned how to successfully run their high school, college, or hub chapters. We heard from Turning Point USA’s College Senior Enterprise Director Andrew Sypher, Administrative Director Annie Alexander, Strategic Director Richard Mills, High School Enterprise Director Nick Cocoa, Strategic Director Brandon Shubert, and of course, Charlie Kirk himself. All of the students I met there were well-rounded, polite, and principled, and networking was a blast! 

After we were trained in the art of leadership, it was time for the Student Action Summit. There, 5,000 young people listened to speeches and panels consisting of a wide variety of people. We heard from journalists, influencers, business-owners, police officers, nurses, and other public servants and entrepreneurs. Also, we heard from media personalities like James O’Keefe, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Greg Gutfeld, Laura Ingraham, and Benny Johnson. Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley were hit speakers, but the most anticipated speakers of the summit were Governor Ron DeSantis, Charlie Kirk, and former President Donald Trump.

Overall, [the Made In America event] motivated people to stand for their rights.

— Janice Chappell

Our most recent event took place at our very own Forum! Turning Point USA’s very first high school tour was launched during the Student Action Summit, the Made In America Tour! The first two tour stops in Des Moines, Iowa, and Nolensville, Tennessee were enormously successful as planned, but the third stop in Naples was postponed due to Hurricane Ian making landfall in Florida, where the speaker Benny Johnson is based. The fourth stop took place in Yorba Linda with investigative journalist Drew Hernandez, who captivated his audience with a speech on faith, family, and freedom.  There was a lot of feedback from attendees. One guest said she “felt Drew Hernandez had a very inspirational message. He impacted young people who may not have realized how relevant the topics he mentioned were and how we should learn from them.” Clark Smolskis (9) learned the “importance of maintaining relationships with people, especially because the busy atmosphere of our world and cell phones can get in the way.” It is safe to say that the event was a phenomenal accomplishment and helped TPUSA at YLHS continue to inspire change in our community.