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Chichester takes top honors at Student Congress

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POTSDAM - AAK Middle School in Potsdam was the scene Saturday of the first Student Congress competition of this school year.

There were well over 30 students designated as Senators this day. Many, of course, were new members of their respective forensics teams. So, there was a lot of looking-on today. However, the Congress entertained five individual bills and the discussion was quite animated at times.

Noah Chichester, Potsdam, served as the presiding officer of the session. His knowledge of Robert’s Rules was impressive and his command of the procedural points afforded the students a very efficient Congress experience.

Senator Jordyn Black, Malone, offered the first bill to make animal testing for cosmetic development illegal. The student offered data to suggest that the pain and suffering inflicted on the test subjects was cruel and inhumane. She asked that Congress think about what our choices did to other creatures of the universe.

Senator Daniel Chichester, Potsdam, then offered a bill to suspend the use of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

The contentions he put forth included the restrictive nature of such mandates, causing teachers to follow the curriculum to prepare the students for some standardized test, rather than teach with an eye to expanding the lessons through practical methods.

The discussion involved many students and the struggle was back and forth. There were certainly strong feelings about both sides of this issue. Potsdam’s Senator Ivan Jukic then suggested a bill to increase security cameras in school facilities.

The intent in this bill was to prevent bullying, a epidemic in our country. If the prevention was not entirely successful then the evidence filmed by the monitoring devices could then afford the prosecutors /administrators to take a more active role in the punishment of the offenders.

One senator, who spoke in negation of the bill, offered her own experience in which the film caught the abuse she suffered on film, but the evidence was never used to confront the abusers. So, that precipitated another discussion of the question — is doing something better than nothing ?

Senator Shawntell Courtney, Parishville, presented her bill mandating the labeling of genetically modified foods as such. Although the discussion was informative, the Congress did not seem to feel that the negative evidence regarding the modified foods was compelling enough to force labeling as such. It is an issue that will come up again.

Potsdam’s Brian Timmerman then offered his observation and corrective bill concerning the poor condition of many of the country’s bridges.

His suggestion was that the Department of Transportation appoint a panel of civil engineers to review the condition of the bridges and prioritize which ones needed to be fix promptly.

Senator Marko Jukic offered an amendment to this bill by stipulating that the panel would get reports from local teams of civil engineers to make the process more efficient. Money seemed to be a tremendous issue for the Congress. Where would the funds come from ?

When the scores were tallied the top six finishers in point accumulations for their participation included Malone’s Jordyn Black who tied for fifth place with Potsdam’s Michael Hobbs, a newcomer to the arena of Congress. Potsdam’s Brian Timmerman, Marko Jukic and Ivan Jukic placed fourth through second respectively. Noah Chichester, the leader of the Congress session, was awarded the highest spot for his effective and efficient leadership.

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