Students often learn best by doing, rather than seeing, which is the premise of the high school’s Congress in Action program. In its 23rd year, the program has students presenting original bills, arguing the pros and cons of issues, and voting on each bill. The simulated role-play process mirrors the functions of the actual House of Representatives. The Locust Valley High School seniors who participated in the event took it very seriously – arguing their bills with concrete research and intense emotion.

Locust Valley Social Studies Department Leader David J. Ethe who organizes the event each year, explained that there is no better way for students to learn how our nation’s government works. “It teaches them first-hand how bills are created, generated, debated and passed, as well as teaching them a variety of practical skills that will aid them throughout their education and in their future careers.”  These skills include public speaking, research methodologies, working in teams and learning to compromise on solutions to current issues facing our nation.

Each student assumed the persona of a member of the House of Representatives, researched and wrote a bill as part of a committee, and argued for the passing of the bill during a Student Mock Congress.

The entire senior class participated in the event, getting a “feel” for the challenges that politicians are faced with when trying to pass new legislation, as students listened to their peers argue both for and against the bills they presented. Each student congressperson performed extensive research to ensure that the bills were factual and could withstand the scrutiny of the student congress. The experience was very realistic, as students’ bills were reviewed by their committee members and revised until the full committee was satisfied.

The congressional committees chose bills that could actually be proposed in the United States Congress. The bills were topical, usually having a connection to current events including, the creation of a federal death penalty, increased funding for embryonic stem cell research, increased funding to provide job training for the homeless, imposing a tax on unhealthy foods and beverages, and raising education standards in the United States.

Lower classmen are invited to watch the mock congress during their social studies classes and look forward to participating in the event during their senior year.

This year’s Rules Committee was comprised of Tyler Fallon, Speaker of the House; Christina Boutros, Majority Leader; Karina Wrona, Majority Whip; Rausan Boujerdi, Minority Leader; Hannah Milnes, Minority Whip; Sean Rudowsky and Ken Syrett, Sargent-at-Arms.