Be the Voice of Tomorrow

Model Congress


Adrianna Longhi, Staff Writer

Imagine being in a room full of strangers debating bills, politics, and most importantly, your opinion on social and political matters in today’s society. Where are students able to do this? At GHS Model Congress, where students are given the opportunity to have a voice.

Model Congress is advised by history teacher Timothy Westphal. The club was formerly run by Mr. Ferrier. Recently, Model Congress has gained notoriety for the Yale Trip. Students in the club visit Yale and participate in the mock creation and debate of congressional bills.  This process models the legislative process of the U.S. Congress. However, going to Yale doesn’t just happen. There are months of preparation for this trip. The club meets every Tuesday and Thursday where Westphal prepares bills for students to practice debating. When it begins to get close to the Yale Model Congress Conference, students construct and help other students construct persuasive bills on the topic of their choice, mostly something a student feels passionate about, for example… firearm safety, abortion rights, and even the president’s right to tweet!

The conference is a four day, three night trip that typically takes place either the last weekend of November or the first weekend of December. Attending the conference, students receive a “Bill Book” where the students will find bills written by other schools’ Model Congress students. The students while in “session” will debate each and every bill that’s in the bill book. Sessions will last the duration of the weekend and the bill will either pass or fail after taking a vote from each of the students on the committee. Once the bill is passed the student has the option to debate their bill once again, but now in a full session, that has about 80-100 students in it…sometimes double that! Talk about nerve-racking! “This year was my first time attending the conference and I didn’t quite know what to expect going there. But I feel as if I’ve learned so much from going and I learned that I have a voice and it matters from debating my bill,” says Emma Shanahan, a new member of Model Congress.

The weekend ends with the closing ceremony where awards are given out- Best Delegate of each committee, Best Delegation, etc. At the end of this weekend students are exhausted and ready to go home. The last night the delegates are rewarded with a dance and pizza to relax.  “This is an excellent opportunity to broaden the students perspective and horizon and step outside of their comfort zone and learn more about themselves. I wish more students would jump at this opportunity especially since it hits all the keys to advanced student learning,” observes Westphal.

For many students,  Model Congress is a look into the future of our future senators and politicians speaking the voice of the American people.