Every January, students from Chatham High School join students from around the northeast at the longest running Model Congress competition in the country at American International College (AIC) in Springfield, Massachusetts. Model Congress allows students to experience the arduous yet often rewarding legislative process first hand. Like our representatives in Washington, students develop bills or constitutional amendments to address issues facing our nation.
In teams of two, club members present their bills or amendments to co-advisors Mark Pearson and Peter Cook, both social studies teachers at CHS, who in turn select three pieces of legislation to be submitted to the Model Congress. This year’s submissions included a bill crafted by seniors Althea Brennan and Pamela Mountain to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act, a bill developed by seniors Kenneth Fay and Emily Westover to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans, and a bill written by juniors Julia Rose and Erika Jackson to provide an expansion of outpatient psychiatric services. The bill’s two primary delegates partner up with two more students to form a delegation. Each delegation is allotted several observers who participate in the research process in the weeks leading up to the competition. In total, Chatham sent eighteen students to this year’s competition. The program is also strengthened by the generous time and assistance provided by math teacher and chaperon Jen DiIorio.
“Mark, Jen, and I are very proud of each student. Continuing our success from previous years, Chatham’s students received more awards than any other school at the competition,” said Mr. Cook.
The judges, members of the AIC faculty, chose Althea Brennan as the second place delegate. Also this year, Pamela Mountain received the third place delegate award, while Model Congress newcomer Benjamin Rippel, also a senior, was selected as the Congress’s “Rising Star.” And once again, AIC presented our students with the Rebecca Grey Team Spirit Award. This marks Althea’s third time on the podium (last year she took first place and the year before that third place) and Chatham’s sixth year in a row (!) bringing home the Team Spirit Award.
Although the club is wishing a fond farewell to its seniors, they are forging ahead into the future with a strong group of students who are eagerly anticipating the sound of the gavel calling into session next year’s 80th Model Congress at AIC.