Student Activism at AHS

 

By Ellie Crowley

Since the presidential election of Donald Trump in 2016, the nation has been fraught with vast political division. This division has ignited a flame within the majority of citizens to exercise their right to freedom of speech in both support and protest of actions taken by the president. However, the controversial policies have also inspired a large majority of America’s youth to take a stand and make their adolescent voices heard. This past year, the AHS student body has embodied this rise of youth protest and created a new culture of student activism in the school’s community.

At the beginning of the school year, the community participated in the Unity Project. Drama teacher Michael Byrne first discovered the project on Facebook and proposed that the school implement its own version. The Unity Project was initially created by two women in an attempt to combat the division in their community as a result of the election. Byrne, along with math teacher Joanna Begin, applied for a grant from the Arlington Education Foundation and received funding for the project by the Dawn Moses Memorial Grant.

The project consisted of 32 PVC pipes circled around one central pipe located on the front lawn. Each of the outer poles had an identifier on it, and students were invited to wrap pink yarn from the center pole around each pole that they identified with, with the end result being a woven ceiling around the circle, representing the unity of the AHS community and a celebration of diversity.

If students felt an identifier relevant to their lives was missing, they were invited to add it to a board on the side of the installation. The board was quickly filled, and students began to write their identifiers on the pavement in chalk. Throughout the week, teachers chose to take  their classes out to the project. Students visited it during their free periods, after school, and during advisories.

The installation was also used as a setting to hold events that further unified the AHS community. During the week, the Do Something club held a bake sale to raise money for hurricane relief after the then recent devastation in Puerto Rico. At the end of the week, a rainstorm caused the structure to collapse, but that did not stop the community from appreciating its message. The next day, the Madrigal Singers used the project as a stage for an after-school performance, and on the weekend the Arlington community showed its support for the installation by holding yoga and CrossFit classes next to the fallen project.

The Unity Project set a precedent of acceptance and support for the diversity of the AHS community. This environment provided students with the support they needed to exercise their voice in protests later in the year.

Since the death of 17 students in the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there has been a national uproar calling for gun control. That the majority of protests are student-led reveals the effect this tragedy has had on America’s youth.

The AHS student body was no different and participated in a protest on March 7th for gun control. The protest was organized by the Young Democrats and took place at schools in neighboring towns as well. Students who chose to participate left their first period classes at 8:17 am and gathered on the front lawn of the high school. Griffin Gould, president of the Young Democrats, led a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Parkland shooting.

Following the moment of silence was a speech by senior Ian Miller, who read the lyrics to “You’re Missing” by Bruce Springsteen. The song outlines how it feels to lose a loved one, as the friends and families of the 17 students in Parkland have. Gould then invited the protesters to join the Young Democrats and participate in a state-wide protest outside of the state house on March 14th.

Despite the snow day on the date of the state house visit, 26 AHS students still gathered outside to rally for advocacy training and stronger gun control laws. Specifically, students were lobbying for the passing of bill H.3610 and the repeal of the Dickey Amendment. Bill H.3610 proposes temporarily preventing access to firearms for extremely dangerous or suicidal individuals. The Dickey Amendment, passed in 1996, states that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Students gathered outside of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul and began their march to the state house, participating in chants for gun control along the way. When students were settled in the state house, state representatives each spoke and expressed their stance on both bill H.3610 and the Dickey Amendment. Following the speeches, students were invited to meet with their representatives and ask for their support and votes in passing bill H.3610 and the repealment of the Dickey Amendment. The state house visit provided Massachusetts youth with a direct means of communication with their representatives and the opportunity to make their voices heard.

Following the shooting at their high school, the Parkland students created the movement dubbed #NeverAgain and organized a national walkout for gun control to take place at 10:00 am on March 14th. The AHS student body, having participated in their own walkout on March 7th, wanted to participate in the national walkout as well. The AHS Student Council met on February 27th with principal Dr. Janger to ensure that students who participated in the walkout would not receive disciplinary actions and to begin planning the logistics of the protest, as they anticipated a much larger group than that on March 7th.

So as not to interfere with the school’s Inclusion Day, Dr. Janger scheduled a free block at the time of the walkout so that students would not have to choose between their workshops and the walkout. As the date of the walkout approached, students began to prepare by making posters and signs in the art classroom after school, the largest of which was an orange sign that read “#NeverAgain” in large black lettering and was hung right outside of the front doors of the school on March 14th.

Unfortunately, due to the snow day the walkout was rescheduled for March 15th. Because the walkout was no longer scheduled for Inclusion Day, students now walked out of class instead of a free block. At 10:00 am on March 15th, AHS students filed out of class and gathered at the front of the school, as they had done the week before. The protest was composed of chants, speeches by various AHS students and faculty, and a moment of silence for the victims of the Parkland shooting. As the seventeen minutes came to a close, students returned to their classes and continued with their school day.

The AHS community held a diverse range of views about the walkout. Junior Harjot Singh stated, “The walkout is a complete waste of time, and I agree that some things need to change but having a bunch of kids walk out of school is not going to bring this change.”

History teacher Scott Matson agreed with Singh’s opinion, saying “I do not think [the walkouts] are going to be very effective. In my opinion, a majority of the students around the country don’t even realize what they are doing… they are just following what social media is telling them to do.” History teacher Glen Fant made sure that his students recognized the significance of their actions by giving those who walked out lower participation grades for an in-class assignment that day. Fant explained that “I told the class that I was doing so because I didn’t want to cheapen an act of civil disobedience by making it completely free from consequence.” He continued to reflect on acts of civil disobedience by Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau, explaining that their peaceful protests were condemned but that it gave their purpose more strength and meaning. Still, many AHS students and faculty did choose to participate in the walkout. Junior Isa Dray, an organizer of the walkout on March 15th, explains that “I think it is really important that we have stricter background checks, raise the legal age for gun purchase to 21 and repeal the Dickey Amendment.” Freshman Milo Kiely-Song explained that he “decided to walk out because [he] absolutely believe[s] that stricter gun regulations are necessary to make our country and our schools safer.” Though not all of AHS participated in the walkout, those who chose to not partake in the event still respected those who did—yet another representation of the inclusive and unified environment at the high school. Participating students proved to the nation that their voices deserved to be heard and that they will not rest until stronger gun control is enacted.

More recently, students at AHS have responded to a major incident of vandalism at the school. On the night of Tuesday May 2nd, a group of young males broke into the school and shattered windows, smashed art display cases, discharged fire extinguishers, destroyed cafeteria tables, and smeared various condiments around school property. Additionally, the intruders spray-painted three messages of hate on the outside wall of the school, consisting of two homophobic slurs and a swastika on a trash barrel.

Many students were surprised that such hate was present in a community they thought was safe and welcoming. The school first responded to the incident by holding an assembly organized by the Junior Class Council, in which all student leaders stood as a unified wall in front of the rest of the student body. Dr. Janger, as well as junior class officers, condemned the acts of vandalism but inspired the student body to stand up for the school, to foster what the community wants: a culture of positivity and inclusivity. Following the assembly, students were invited to write positive messages in chalk on the front of the school, such as “Hate has no home here” and “You are loved.”

Members of the senior class, which the majority of vandals belonged to, were disappointed with the actions that would now shape their legacy at the school, and wanted to give back to the community. Senior Olivia Weiss organized a GoFundMe page to raise money to restore the damage inflicted by the vandalism. Dr. Janger, in a recent email, explained that he will be meeting with members of the senior class to discuss the best use for the funds in order to “repair the harm to our community and restore our sense of safety and unity.” Additionally, senior Ian Miller spoke on behalf of the senior class at the school-wide assembly about vandalism, and expressed their disapproval of the event and disappointment in those who vandalized. The unified backlash by nearly all AHS students against the vandalism exemplifies the activist voice that students have found in the past year.

The inclusive and united environment that the school has worked to establish this year has made students comfortable with expressing their political views and has created an activist culture in the student body.

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Love Simon: The Charming John Hughes Love Story For A New Generation

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By Miles Shapiro

After an extended hiatus in the 90s and early 2000s coming of age stories seem to have been granted a resurgence as of late with films such as “The Spectacular Now” and “The Edge of Seventeen”. On television in particular shows like “Riverdale” and “13 Reasons Why” have brought in massive following while also being reasonably well received by critics. This 1980’s teen flick renaissance continues with “Love Simon”, the story of a high school senior coming to terms with life, love, and all the other ups and downs of adolescence. It is refreshing how “Love Simon” features a gay protagonist, making it the first major studio romantic comedy to do so.

In the titular role of Simon, Nick Robinson radiates charisma; bringing debt and relatability to the films closeted lead. The screenplay by Elizabeth Burger as well as Arlington High School Alumni Isaac Aptaker crackles with youthful energy and provides a sappy but deeply honest portrait of adolescence and unexplored sexuality. The film bends to genre tropes unabashedly while at the same time, its unique voice and charm gives it a style all its own. Despite its contemporary setting, the films atmosphere, music, and visual palet give it a timelessly seductive feel and coaxes the viewer into a feeling of nostalgia.

The films supporting cast also shines with a slew of young talents as well as more well known names like Tony Hale and Josh Duhamel rounding out the well drawn cast of characters. The film is well paced and despite not necessarily breaking any new ground in terms of storytelling, this film is revolutionary for what it doesn’t show. Unlike many stories of inclusion that put their progressiveness at the forefront of the story, “Love Simon” is refreshingly restrained. The movie features a homosexual protagonist, but that is is not the story, it’s just part of it. Simon’s sexuality of course plays a large role in the film but the story is never compromised to make room for the message.

This film is not going to be competing at any festivals or winning any oscars, but that was not its intent. What this film sets out to do is tell a charming romance with just enough substance and heart to elevate it above its contemporaries. In this goal, the movie fully succeeds and in time will likely take its well deserved place as one of the more prominent entries in the teen film’s second coming as well as a welcome milestone in the journey to on screen equality.

Arlington Girls Softball Team’s Season Heightens

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Photo of Ellie Demaree (senior)

By Chloe Jackson

The 2018 Spring Arlington Girls Softball Season has commenced, and the team kickstarted the new season with an impressive record. The varsity team, ranked 37th in the state of Massachusetts and captained by seniors Abi Ewen and Ellie Demaree, holds a 9-1 record and 6-1 league record.

Girls Varsity Softball consists of sixteen Arlington High student-athletes, began practicing on March 19th with coaches Matt and Dan O’Loughlin; they will continue to play until the end of their season in early June. The team practices six times a week excluding game days. Senior Holly Russell is excited for this year’s “good start” that will “continue to improve and get better” as the season progresses. The softball program also held a successful car wash on April 14th to earn funds for the team.

Each year, several Arlington players are awarded league all-star awards. Players Holly Russell, Abi Ewen, Emily Benoit, Ellie Demaree, and Katie O’Brien have received recognition in the past, and are likely contenders to earn the title for another spring season. The Varsity team has maintained an impressive 0.364 batting average, a 0.927 fielding average, and has stolen 44 bases. Meanwhile, the Junior Varsity and Freshman teams have also displayed notable starts to their seasons. Many eighth graders have been offered positions on the freshman team, bringing in a younger generation to the high school program. Freshman Coach Bob Bartholomew has introduced them the high school softball experience.

As senior Holly Russell reflects on her years playing softball with AHS, she is “shocked that it will be over soon.” However, as her last sports season ever as a tri-varsity athlete comes to a close, she enjoys her senior season on the softball team. The girls softball team continues to fight for each victory as their season progresses and the school year comes to a close.

AHS Responds to Recent Hate Crimes

By Claire Kitzmiller & Isabella Scopetski

On the night of Tuesday May 2nd, a group of young males broke into Arlington High and vandalized the school. Their actions consisted of breaking windows, smashing art show display cases, discharging fire extinguishers, breaking tables and smearing various “items” around school property. Additionally, the intruders spray painted three messages of hate on the outside wall of the school, consisting of two homophobic slurs and a swastika on a trash barrel. This detailed information was released to the student body by the end of the day on May 3rd in an email from Principal Dr. Janger.

The administration and the junior class council spent the day on Wednesday planning a response to the hate crimes. During the last period of the day, an assembly was held for all students and staff in the building. The assembly began with a speech from Dr. Janger who condemned the vandalism and reminded his students of how AHS fosters inclusiveness and positivity at its core.

“This vandalism is an attack on our entire community”, announced Janger, “hate speech and vandalism are the opposite of everything we stand for at AHS”. Further in his letter, Janger expressed his concern for the “students who feel particularly targeted by these symbols and words” and his sadness for the “vandals who feel a need to express hate in [the AHS] community”.

Throughout his message, Janger commented on the continual dedication AHS as a community has to “creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive community” which, he noted, “requires ongoing work, [but] Arlington High School is in a good place and moving in the right direction”. However, when events such as this extreme case of vandalism occurs, many wonder who these individuals are, and others ask themselves, how could these people be a part of my own community? It is disturbing and puzzling to many students that members of their own school, or even their own classmates, would display such violence for seemingly no reason at all.

During the grade-wide assembly, members of the junior class student government spoke to their peers, each reading a speech they had prepared during school that day in light of the assembly.

Junior Class President Neil Tracey spoke specifically about the “150 years of legacy to look at” when events shake the AHS community. “We need to talk about the good work that we do” advised Tracey, “because we are defined by that good work and not by the hateful actions of a few individuals”.

Junior Class Vice President Devin Wright responded to the events by saying “The one thing we should all have in common is wanting to make our school a safe and welcoming place for all who attended it”. “We are all just people trying to live our lives with the respect and safety that everyone deserves”, she added.

After the assembly, students and staff were invited to draw welcoming and uplifting chalk messages on the front of the building. Messages include, “Hate has not home here” and “You are loved.”

Many community members were surprised to see such hate in the community but many students feel the hatred expressed by vandalism in school everyday. One junior at AHS believes the vandalism is “just reflexive of how a lot of people think in our school but don’t usually act on.” It is upsetting to many students that the administration only takes action against the ever present hatred in the school, when it becomes visible to everyone.

After the vandalism, students and staff were forced to take a closer look at a problem that has been hidden to many. Biology teacher, Shannon Knuth said, “I think there’s a bigger problem here than what I really understood about.” Many students and staff who are not directly affected by the hatred at AHS, feel the same sentiment.

While the administration did have a quick and effective response to the vandalism at AHS, many community members recognize that the Arlington High School still has a long way to go.

Arlington’s Fourth Scoopermania: AHS Students Scoop for a Cure!

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Photo by Wicked Local

By Connor Rempe

The members of Arlington High School’s Scoops Club are planning this years’ annual Scoopermania event. Scoopermania is a nationwide fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund, an organization that supports research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Hosted on the lawn of the Cyrus E. Dallin Museum in Arlington Center, Scoopermania brings the community together over a sweet treat: ice cream! For just five dollars, customers get unlimited ice cream with toppings. This year, for the first time, local bands will even be performing. In the past three years, the event has seen huge success, raising over $10,000 towards cancer research. The organizers of the event are AHS students who reach out to the community for all aspects of the fundraiser. Local ice cream stores provide all of the ice cream, and many other businesses donate materials, as well as monetary support, for renting equipment.

The president of the club, Sagar Rastogi, sums up Scoopermania as “a great event for families and friends that brings the community together over a few scoops of ice cream, while also raising money for a great cause.” This year’s Scoopermania will be hosted on Saturday, May 19th from 1 to 5 PM. It’s a great opportunity to eat some ice cream, listen to music, and, most importantly, fight against cancer.

 

AHS Compost

By Jessie Cali

Arlington High School is implementing a new pilot composting program in the school cafeteria. Every Friday, AHS students will have the option to discard their food scraps, napkins, compostable trays, paper plates, and paper food boats into collection toters lined with compostable bags in the cafeteria. Black Earth Compost, a compost collection service, will then process and distribute the contents to local farms.

During the pilot period, the Arlington Department of Public Works will cover the cost of the collection through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Maya Pockrose, a junior at Arlington High School, attended a semester school program in Maine this past fall where she was inspired to bring sustainable practices such as composting to AHS.

When describing her experience at the semester school, Pockrose said, “By harvesting and then eating much of the food we ate, then helping to compost it on site, we were able to clearly see the process and the nutrient cycle and how food waste could be used beneficially. No food scraps were wasted there, and when I returned to AHS I wanted to bring with me that same spirit of natural resource conservation and environmental awareness.”

Pockrose spearheaded the initiative, sending a proposal to Arlington sustainability coordinator Rachel Oliveri along with the AHS administration.

“Student participation in the pilot is critical to its success,” Oliveri said on the new program,  “Food waste is a concerning global issue. The US wastes about 126 billion pounds of food per year. In Arlington, our food waste goes to an incinerator to be burned. In other parts of the country, food waste sits in landfills. Both release greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. Composting is a much better option, as the food scraps and paper trays combine and biodegrade into a nutrient-rich soil supplement that supports new plant and tree growth.”


Six of the other Arlington Public Schools (Bishop, Brackett, Dallin, Peirce, Stratton, and Thompson), also have compost buckets in their cafeterias.

The goal of this program is “not only to improve our sustainability as a school but also to raise awareness about the environmental issues we are facing and how we can actually help,” Pockrose added, “Composting is an easy, attainable way to ensure that the nutrients in food waste go back into the earth instead of into landfills.”

 

AHS Students Create Online Magazine

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By Ellie Crowley

AHS students have always been known for their creativity, and are a continuous source of pride for the community with their art shows, music exhibitions, and theater performances. However, sophomores Maren Larkin and Molly O’Toole felt that the community was lacking the proper means to truly express their creativity freely beyond the high school. In the fall of 2017, the girls started Angelhead Magazine, which is “an artistic platform for the creative youth of Boston”—in other words, “an online art magazine for teens.”

Larkin and O’Toole first thought of the magazine after participating in a summer film photography workshop. After collaborating with other artists within the workshop for two years, Larkin says that “I started thinking about how cool it would be if we could all connect and share our art together.” O’Toole affirms this idea, saying “We wanted to create a space where the hard work and creativity of our peers is appreciated.” The girls’ motivation to to share their work led to the launching of Angelhead Magazine in the fall.

The magazine’s name was inspired by a line from the poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg. In Larkin’s words, “He writes about ‘angelheaded hipsters’ which struck me as kind of funny and interesting all at the same time.” Though originally unsure of the name, the pair kept returning to Angelhead Magazine, and it stuck. When asked if it has been difficult establishing themselves, Larkin says that it has been “easy and hard all at the same time. We definitely have a long way to go,” adding that they have published two bi-monthly collections since the launch. She explains that “one of the hardest things has been getting in touch with artists outside of Arlington—our first collection was almost entirely Arlington based.” However, O’Toole adds, “as we post more collections, and it grows, it becomes easier to get in touch with kids outside of our school and expand our circles.” The girls have also heavily utilized social media to reach out to local artists and found that teens are “very eager to contribute.” They realized that a significant amount of the content submitted has documented the local marches and protests, which adds a political aspect to the magazine that they hadn’t expected but greatly support. O’Toole notes, “We think that art and activism are closely tied, and often the best art is the kind that provokes social change.” The girls have loved the political additions and encourage artists to submit more because, in their words, “[activism] is very important to us and our vision for the magazine.”

Angelhead Magazine has received a great amount of support from the artistic community. Larkin adds that “I think it’s an idea that a lot of people have dreamt of pursuing,” and that she’s pleased that they have created a space to further connect the community. If you’re interested in checking out Larkin and O’Toole’s work, be sure to visit https://angelhead-mag.squarespace.com/.

Girls Frisbee Team Becomes a Spring Sport

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Clara Stewart, senior captain of girls ultimate team

By Eliza McKissick

This spring, an all-girls ultimate frisbee team was established at Arlington High School for the first time. Previously, girls could join the co-ed ultimate team; however this year there was enough interest to form an all-girls team.

Senior Clara Stewart was a captain of the co-ed team her sophomore and junior year, but has since decided to dedicate her time to forming the new all-girls program. Stewart says she spent a couple of years thinking about establishing an all girls program, but there was never a great push for it. However, this year Stewart explained that the “timing seemed right [and] there seemed to be enough interest.” With 18 girls on the roster, Arlington High was able to establish an all girls ultimate frisbee team

Junior Lilah Vieweg is new to ultimate frisbee, but is excited to get involved with the sport. Vieweg initially joined because she knew “everyone else would be a beginner, so [she] wasn’t too worried.” Other members agreed that they felt welcome to join, regardless of their experience level. According to Stewart, ultimate frisbee has a “great sense of community, where everyone is focused on helping each other succeed.” It is clear that this sense of community has made its way to the AHS girls team.

Since ultimate frisbee is not recognized as an MIAA sport, the team will operate as a club. For this reason, they will not receive school funding; however, they will be able to design their own jerseys and choose their team name. Stewart explains that the “team will be going through parks and rec to get field time.” Players will be responsible to pay for field time, jerseys, transportation, and any other costs that come with playing. Stewart shares that this can make it “hard to recruit since it can get expensive.” The team will be equipped with a few different volunteer coaches. Geoa Geer, who works at an ultimate frisbee organization known as BUDA,  and who is an ultimate world champion is one of the volunteer coaches. A few neighboring towns, such as Lexington and Newton, have girls programs already established. The Arlington High girls team will compete against these other teams in friendly scrimmages.

Equipped with excellent coaching and motivated players, the newly established Arlington High School all-girls ultimate frisbee team seems to be a great position for their first season.

 

16 Year-Olds are Ready to Vote…So Why are We Waiting?

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By Connor Rempe

On March 15th, much of the student population walked out of Arlington High School and stood in front of the main doors to protest our country’s current gun control regulations. Student leaders made speeches and presented statistics in an attempt to grab the attention of politicians across the country. However, there was one speech in particular that stood out. Freshman Genevieve Baldwin used her time at the podium to warn this country’s leaders that our time is coming. Soon we will be able to vote and it is clear that our generation has a strong and powerful voice. She said that we had always been told by our parents that “someday you’ll be old enough” and that now our “someday was coming.” While this message might be inspiring, I could only think one thing while listening to it: “Why wait for someday? Why can’t someday be now?” We were told “someday” as kids, but if there is one thing I am certain of it is that the people on the steps of the high school that day were not children in the traditional sense. We were engaged in the democratic process more than most adults and ready to make a change. The leadership of youth in today’s America has proven that teens shouldn’t be considered apathetic children but rather a driving force in shaping the future. Furthermore, in order to allow teens to influence the laws and lawmakers that very much influence them, the legal voting age ought to be lowered to 16 years old.

The debate over voting age has pervaded U.S. history as early as 1942 and most notably during the Vietnam War.  During WWII, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt lowered the minimum draft age from 21 to 18, and while at the time voting ages were decided by states, across the board the legal age to vote was 21. 18-year-olds were conscripted without any say in the process of their government. “Old enough to fight, Old enough to Vote” became a slogan for the fight for voting rights and in 1942 Georgia lowered the minimum age to vote in state and local elections to 18. Many states followed suit. Congress, however, did not until similar circumstances arose in the Vietnam war and moved them to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, the situation is similar; a group of empowered, young people want a say in the important decisions that affect their lives.

Those who oppose lowering the minimum voting age often question why 16-year-olds deserve to be given the vote. David Davenport of Forbes feels that until 16-year-olds pay taxes or can be asked to participate in the military, they should not be able to dictate the actions of those who do. Additionally, Davenport says, support for lowering the age in the government by senators such as Nancy Pelosi is purely partisan. He says that until teens have to pay taxes, they are more frequently liberal-leaning. Ultimately, Davenport claims, until we have “evidence that we need or even want 16-year olds voting,” there is no reason to make a change.

While these concerns are valid, they rely on misconceptions about the motivations of teenagers. People, let alone teenagers, don’t vote for only themselves. Studies by the American Psychological Association show that by the age of 16 teens can gather and process information, as well as weigh pros and cons in low-pressure situations, such as voting. Teens think about many different angles when making decisions, so the fact that they themselves don’t pay taxes doesn’t disqualify them from being able to vote based on what they think is best for the country and their families. Secondly, we want 16-year-olds voting because they have unique and educated opinions, which are always necessary for a good democracy. In order for that voice to be heard to its fullest extent, the voting age ought to be lowered.

Today’s youth have demonstrated that they are ready and willing to participate in the democratic process. In order for their voice to not only be heard but also affect real change, they need to be given the most powerful tool in our government today: the ability to vote.

 

 

Works Cited

Davenport, David. “No, We Shouldn’t Lower The Voting Age To 16.” Forbes, 25 May 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddavenport/2016/05/25/no-we-shouldnt-lower-the-voting-age-to-16/#7e382a55531e. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.

History.com Staff. “The 26th Amendment.” History.com, A+E Networks, 2010, http://www.history.com/topics/the-26th-amendment. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.

Steinberg, Laurence. “Why We Should Lower the Voting Age to 16.” The New York Times, 2 Mar. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/02/opinion/sunday/voting-age-school-shootings.html. Accessed 26 Apr. 2018.

Model Congress Competes In Philadelphia

By Isaiah Donovan

On Thursday, March 22nd, club members from Arlington High School boarded a train to Philadelphia. The Model Congress convened with other chapters nationwide at the University of Pennsylvania, where schools from across the country were invited to participate in a model of the legislative process. There, students proposed bills of their own and debated for support in committees, before rolling the propositions out to full floor debates.

Most weeks, Model Congress meets in Room 306 during X Blocks on Tuesdays. In this time, they propose bills and practice their argumentative skills. These sessions are often held as preparation for the Philadelphia convention, but some members come every week just to debate. The club’s meetings were put to a much larger scale during their trip to UPenn. On arrival, participants were assigned into various committees, where they voted on which bills to move forward with. After multiple committee sessions in a day, a full session was held to decide on which bills to pass.

Model Congress members had previously prepared bills to suggest to their confederates. Zach Garrigus, a Model Congress member of three years “proposed a bill that would extend the presidential term limits from two terms to three terms.” Zach not only likes proposing his own bills, but also seeing the bills of others take shape. “There was a bill that made it easy for non-convicted criminals to serve in the military, which I thought was very cool.”

At face value, debating for hours may seem dull. However, the reality is much different.. “In all honesty, I started Model Congress because it would look good on my college resume, but it turned out to be a lot of fun.” says Patrick Gallagher, a junior who went on the trip. “It’s a rewarding experience, and you really get some insight into the legislative process. Plus, the campus is very fun to explore at UPenn.” Though the majority of those in attendance were from the Northeast, many students enjoy the chance to see like-minded peers from different parts of the country. Gallagher notes that he “had a great time discussing with the other committee members, even when arguing.”

Gallagher encourages all students who are interested in Congress, the government or debating in general to come by the Model Congress during one of their meetings. “It never hurts to try something new out,” says Gallagher, “and many people may find an affinity for it.”