Second legislative sessions a huge success

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MHS hosted its second legislative session of the school year last week and social studies teacher David Piovanetti labeled it a huge success.

Sessions were held on Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon in the Performing Arts Center. Fourteen bills were voted upon. The only bills not to receive votes were on tobacco regulation and green energy.

"The timing of this year's full session could not have been better,'' Piovanetti said. "The fact that almost every bill our students debated are also being debated on the national stage really brings home the fact that the work we are doing has real-world implications. Not only are issues like gun control, gay marriage, affirmative action, immigration, and marijuana legalization, issues that are before Congress and the Supreme Court right now, but they are issues that touch the lives of many of our students and families personally.

"I have no doubt that we are developing more informed and engaged citizens, voters, and future leaders."

Students passed 12 of 14 bills, although two passed bills -- HB32 Repeal Obamacare and HB43 Flat Tax -- were vetoed by President Joey Duff. Classes will have an opportunity to override the President's veto this week. A two-thirds majority of all voting representatives is required to override a veto.

"The follow-up discussions in our classes (Friday) have been equally as powerful and engaging,'' Piovanetti said.

During the full sessions, Adam Yeazel, the elected Speaker of the House, served as chair of the full sessions, overseeing and controlling the full legislature.  The elected Majority and Minority Floor Leaders (Michelle Xie and Coby Hunter), along with the help of their assistant whips and head whips, directed their respective parties during each of the bill discussions. 

More than 250 student representatives took part in this simulation by speaking and voting for or against bills that made it to the full session. Students also dressed in formal business attire as they assumed the roles of U.S. lawmakers debating a wide range of current issues.

The bills were part of the new semester-long U.S. Government and Politics class. The course was developed by a team of social studies teachers, along with Steve Arnold, who has been running legislative sessions at Community High School in West Chicago, Ill., for 20 years. According to Steve's wife, Peg, there are at least 12 schools in California, Nevada, Illinois and Wisconsin using this model.

The course was also part of the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District curriculum renewal process and has been three years in the making.

All of the topics were selected, researched and written entirely by students, Piovanetti said.

Mark Pocan, who was elected to the U.S. Representatives in November, kicked off the first day of the full session by sharing stories of his own entry into politics and his frustrations with the current Congress and its inability to get things done.

"I want to extend my compliments and praise for this outstanding simulation,'' Superintendent Don Johnson said.  "The students were engaged, articulate, and motivated. What an impressive example of real learning to stimulate civic engagement.  This is one example of why MCPASD has a great reputation, and why it is well-deserved.''

The other instructors are Kate Arnold, Ann Morstad and Kristin Brown.

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Legislative Session billed huge success (December 2012)