Sabis International Charter School took home four awards, including the top prize, at the 73rd Model Congress at American International College. Hannah Sullivan was recognized as the event's best delegate and offered a four year, full tuition scholarship to AIC. The Springfield charter school also won the Best Delegation Award, and SABIS students Kate Mauke and Michael Savoie received 4th place and Honorable Mention awards, respectively.
More than 200 students attended this year's Model Congress debating and voting on a variety of legislation, including bills aimed at increasing voter turnout, raising tariffs on imported goods, and increasing U.S. oil production.
Marguerite Pratt, a a junior physical therapy major from Southwick, served as general chair of the 73rd Model Congress, which is organized and run entirely by AIC students.
Former State Senator Brian Lees (R-East Longmeadow) was the keynote speaker, while newly elected Governor's Council member Michael Albano spoke at the Awards Banquet.
Andrew LeDoux, Marguerite Pratt, Former State Senator Brian Lees
Both speakers urged the student legislators to stick to their beliefs, but work hard at the art of compromise. "Politicians are much more rigid today," Lees said. "They're not willing to give and take, especially on social issues like abortion, gun control and gay marriage, which are extremely emotional issues."
Albano told the group not a lot has changed since he was in high school, "we still have young people going to war, and a division over social issues." But, he said "your generation will do much better than mine - we failed."
He also urged the students to work with others to bring about change, even if it means compromising. He warned, "be careful of special interest groups who are behind legislation. Groups like the NRA are the reason nothing will ever be accomplished on gun control."
This year's Model Congress attracted schools from Massachusetts, Conn., Vt., and New York. AIC faculty judged the participants on their debating skills and knowledge of parliamentary procedure.