| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – Inside the classrooms of American International College on Jan. 6 and 7 high school students were getting a taste of how Congress works as part of the 77th Model Congress.
The debate was just as intense as students spoke of legislation that ranged from changing the Electoral College to legalizing brothels. Other topics included a re-definition of sexual education, lowering the drinking age to 16 for beer and wine, creating a national holiday to remember 9/11 and infrastructure concerns.
Rebecca Gray, an AIC senior who is the general chairperson for the events, explained the Model Congress “creates a good discussion of what the government can and can’t do.”
She explained on Jan. 6, the members of the Congress were meeting in committee to propose legislation, which if recommended by committee would then be debated in the general session the next day.
The students themselves were responsible for the topics and the proposals, Gray added.
Thirteen schools sent teams to the event that included Agawam High School, Chatham High School, East Longmeadow High School, East Windsor, CT, High School, Kingswood Regional High School, Wolfeboro, NH, Minnechaug Regional High School, Mohawk Trail Regional High School, Pioneer Valley Regional School, Pope Francis High School, Poultney High School, Poultney VT, SABIS International Charter School, Southwick Regional School, and St. Joseph Central High School in Pittsfield.
The Model Congress is the oldest such event in the nation, having been founded in 1940. It is run by AIC students.
The AIC Model Congress awards scholarship opportunities to its the delegates as judged by AIC students. One participant will receive the Kathryn Mauke Scholarship, a full four-year tuition scholarship. Second, third, and fourth place delegates receive half and quarter four-year scholarships
The winners were:
• In fourth, receiving a four-year scholarship covering a fourth of tuition at AIC: SABIS International Charter School - Jada Ficarra
• In third, receiving a four year scholarship covering a fourth of tuition at AIC: Chatham High School - Althea Brennan
•In second, receiving a four-year scholarship to cover half of tuition at AIC: Pope Francis High School - Christopher Carey
•In first, receiving a full four-year tuition scholarship to American International College: Agawam High School - Alyssa Gravel.