Model Congress Students Thrive at UPenn

Photo courtesy of Caroline Scudder. Pictured from top to bottom, left to right: Julia Lehman, Kevin Shen, Emily Shen, Sam Mollin, Benji Canter, Nick Lynch, Sam Hodman, Alec Sicklick, Lily Kalish, Lizzy Kaplan, Robert Emmett, Alex Herzig, Andrew Basta, Max Plonsker, Eli Kalish, Jack Spiridellis, and David Lehman.

Thursday afternoon, 17 MHS students accompanied by Mrs. Scudder and Mr. Paez left the school for a Model Congress conference in Philadelphia, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania. The conference, which spanned four days, involved each delegate participating in a total of 20 hours of debate over student-written legislation: fourteen hours in committees (smaller groups of 15-20 students focusing on a limited set of topics) and six hours in full sessions (collections of 5 committees with a wider variety of topics and a larger number of students).

MHS Model Congress typically attends two conferences per year. For many—freshmen and upperclassmen alike—this conference was their first. Although each attending delegate had practiced debating, amending, and making points and motions in Model Congress’s weekly meetings, conferences with students from different delegations from around the country add an extra layer of difficulty. Lily Kalish ’20 explained, “This was my first conference, and I was a little hesitant going into it at first but I immediately was eased into it in my first committee meeting and by the last full Senate session I made a speech in front of the whole delegation. “ Since this is Model Congress’s second conference of the year, for some seniors, it was also their last. Benji Canter ’17 commented, “It was a great way to begin to wrap up my time as a member of Model Congress,” adding, “overall getting to spend three whole days engulfed in the legislative process and really modeling how our government operates was a lot of fun and really informative. I sort of wish it was longer to be honest, I really enjoyed talking politics with so many other enthusiastic (model) congressmen.”

To master the art of Congress and politics, each student writes and presents a bill at the conference. If a bill is passed through committee, the author may have the chance to debate their bill in Full House or Full Senate, though not all bills have the opportunity to reach this step because of time restrictions. Alec Sicklick ’20, Sam Hodman ’19, Lizzy Kaplan ’19, Emily Shen ’17, David Lehman ’17, Max Plonsker ’17, Jack Spiridellis ’17, Kevin Shen ’17, Eli Kalish ’17 and Julia Lehman ’17 all got their bills passed through committee, and Lizzy Kaplan also passed hers through full session, results of a successful and productive weekend.

The chairs, or moderators, of each committee and each full session select two or three students to receive an Honorable Mention and one student to receive a Best Delegate award, which comes with a highly coveted wooden gavel. Mamaroneck students thrived at UPenn, winning an impressive number of awards. Students awarded Honorable Mentions were Julia Lehman ’17 (committee, Commerce, Science, and Transportation), Lizzy Kaplan ‘19 (committee, Science, Space, and Technology), David Lehman ’17 (committee, Energy and Commerce), Kevin Shen ‘17 (Full Senate) and Robert Emmet ’19 (Full Senate); students awarded Best Delegate gavels were Eli Kalish ’17 (committee, Intelligence) and Benji Canter ’17 (Full House).

MHS Model Congress meets every Thursday in Mrs. Scudder’s room, D215, and welcomes all new members!

By Julia Lehman

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2 thoughts on “Model Congress Students Thrive at UPenn

  1. 3 years ago this weekend my son was the President of Model Congress attending a weekend at UPenn when all his college acceptances were arriving- great program at MHS and wonderful memories for my family. My son continues to debate with his college team and they traveled to the World Conference this year in Amsterdam. Continued success!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment! I remember Matthew being President, I was a freshman at the time–he was always such a great debater, even when he was chairing. I’m glad to hear he continued debating in college! –Julia Lehman

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