Benjamin Franklin, who founded the University of Pennsylvania, would have been proud. The Model Congress Club at Putnam Valley High School has completed another successful trip to the 2009 Penn Model Congress, held in Philadelphia over the last weekend in February. This year’s delegation saw seven of its ten bills pass, and student Madeline Kane earned a Golden Gavel for the defense of her bill and the points she made regarding other bills.
The Model Congress Club is a dedicated group of students with a strong interest in government and politics. In addition to fundraising and learning the rules of parliamentary procedure, members write their own bills for presentation to their respective Model Congress committees, which then vote on the bills for possible inclusion in a full-session debate. PVHS Senior Dillon Chesnut was pleased that his bill made it all the way to the desk of this year’s President for consideration. Asked if he was nervous about defending his bill before a large group of his peers, Dillon replied, “No, not really. Most people use all of their allotted time (about four minutes) to explain and defend their bill, but I prefer to give a short introduction and then take questions from the floor, because it’s the debating that I really enjoy.”
Co-Adviser and veteran PVHS Social Studies teacher Frankie Gutierrez summarized it this way: "We couldn't be more proud of the knowledge of contemporary domestic and foreign issues that our students displayed at Model Congress, and the fact that they held their own against students from some of the most elite schools in the country. Our students displayed great ability to debate in support of some bills and in criticism of others. It was truly an amazing thing to watch our students in action."
Co-Adviser and PVHS English teacher Angela Capodanno added: "In particular, the senior members of the club conducted themselves as positive role models to the younger, newer members, teaching them debate points, how to write and present bills, and the general expectations of conduct at Model Congress. All of our delegates have made us proud."