Courtney Gabinetti of Southwick-Tolland Regional High School took home the top prize, at the 74th Model Congress at American International College. Gabinetti was recognized as the event's best delegate and offered a four year, full tuition scholarship to AIC.

Newly-elected state Senator Donald F. Humason (R-Westfield) was the keynote speaker, addressing a joint session of the Model Congress on Friday, January 10 in the Griswold Theatre. "I'm very excited to be in a room full of people who are head and shoulders above their peers and my peers, because you are already involved in the Democratic process," he said.

Humason urged the students to pursue a career in public service. "It's important for people of good moral background and good character to run for office because if you don't, those seats will be taken by people who may have agendas, may have ulterior motives, and who may want to do things that are not in the best interest of the country."

More than 200 high school students attended this year's Model Congress, Jan. 9-11. The student legislators came from schools throughout Massachusetts, as well as Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York.

The three day event, the longest running event of its kind in the country, is designed to give high school students the opportunity to engage in the legislative process firsthand and stimulate an interest in the process of government. Model Congress participants write, amend, debate and vote on a variety of bills during the three day competition, many of which closely resemble bills currently before the U.S. Congress.

AIC faculty and staff members judged the participants on their debating skills and knowledge of parliamentary procedure. Bills that passed in committee were taken up in House and Senate sessions on Saturday. The Awards Banquet was held Saturday evening.

The winners at the 74th Model Congress:

First: Courtney Gabinetti (Delegate 97) - Southwick-Tolland Regional High School

Second: Kathryn Mauke (Delegate 82) - SABIS International Charter School

Third: Matt Walsh (Delegate 68) - Mohawk Trail Regional High School

Fourth: Samuel Scudere-Weiss (Delegate 17) - Belchertown High School

Honorable Mentions:
Darian Barlow (Delegate 81) - SABIS International Charter School
Catherine Lupien (Delegate 86) - SABIS International Charter School
Michael Savoie (Delegate 83) - SABIS International Charter School

Best Delegation: SABIS International Charter School

Team Spirit: Chatham High School

Best Bill: Mohawk Trail Regional High School