While bills and amendments may have been up for debate at the 78th Annual Model Congress, held January 11-13 at American International College (AIC) in Springfield Massachusetts, Chatham High School’s continued dominance at this annual event was without question.
For the first time in school history, the judges, members of the college’s faculty, named a Chatham student as the best delegate, awarding junior Althea Brennan the competition’s First Place Delegate Award. As part of this award, the college presented Brennan with the Kathryn Mauke Memorial Scholarship, a full four-year scholarship to attend AIC!
Additionally, the judges gave Chatham senior Destiny Hull the competition’s Fourth Place Delegate Award.
Neither student is a stranger to the AIC awards podium; Brennan won the Third Place Delegate Award at last year’s event, while Hull won an Honorable Mention Delegate Award in 2016.
To round out these accolades, AIC presented Chatham with the only team award given out at the 2018 Model Congress, the Rebecca Gray Team Spirit Award, reserved for the team with the most motivation, enthusiasm, cooperation, and collegiality. Of special note, this is the fifth year in a row that Chatham High School has brought home this award.
AIC’s Model Congress attracted ten high schools and approximately 150 students from across the Northeast. The event 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.
Students in Chatham’s Model Congress Club began preparing for the AIC Model Congress weeks prior to the event. In teams of two, the students presented their bills or amendments to club co-advisors Mark Pearson and Peter Cook, both social studies teachers at the High School. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Cook in turn selected three pieces of legislation to submit to the AIC Model Congress. This year’s submissions included a constitutional amendment crafted by Brennan and Hull to address the shortcomings of the Thirteenth Amendment, a bill developed by juniors Kenneth Fay and Emily Westover to strengthen the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prevent discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and a bill written by senior Gaby Neven and junior Pamela Mountain to secularize currency and the Pledge of Allegiance. The bills’ writers acted as the primary delegates, who partnered up with two more students to form a delegation. Each delegation was allotted several observers who participated in the research process in the weeks leading up to the competition. In total, Chatham sent twenty students to this year’s competition. The program was also strengthened by the generous time and assistance provided by math teacher and chaperon Jen DiIorio. Ms. DiIorio is a welcome addition to say the least.
Chatham’s 2017-18 Model Congress Team is Oliver Allen, Althea Brennan, Coco Carmichael, Sydney Dohr, Kenneth Fay, Destiny Hull, Erika Jackson, Eliza Klingler, Madisyn Marks, Pamela Mountain, Gabriela Neven, Sydney Newton, Julia Rose, Margot Marie Schassler, Liliana Simon, Jenna Skype, Charlotte Tucksmith, Sonam Verma, Emily Westover, and Lillian Witaszek.
“To be candid, it would be difficult to express how proud Mark, Jen, and I are of each student,” remarked Mr. Cook. “Although it is with great sadness that the club is wishing a fond farewell to our seniors, we are forging ahead into the future with a strong group of students and we are all eagerly anticipating the sound of the gavel calling into session next year’s 79th Model Congress at American International College.”