Marlboro Middle School Social Studies Teacher James Ventriglia brought his Youth And Government students to the school board to show them what the program is all about. He said it is a “great honor” to be the advisor for this club.
“I get to witness great things about them and watch them excel in a wonderful setting,” he said, calling the club, “an outstanding extension of the academic program with kids debating, developing bills and working collaboratively with like-minded ambitious kids from other schools; it’s a laboratory for them that is student-driven.”
Ventriglia said he established the club after receiving a query email from Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Robin Hecht. He readily agreed and the club started with a simple idea; What can we do to make New York State better? He said the 7th and 8th graders responded with some excellent ideas.
“They kind of took it and ran with it and the program blossomed from there. The objective of the program is to gather, debate, develop and defend their argument and talk about issues within their community itself and the state at large. So they did that and continue to do that,” he said.
Ventriglia said the “main event” will take place later in the school year when the club goes to a convention at the state capitol in Albany. They will check into their hotel and go right to their committees and present their bills; a dry run of what the club will do during the next few days when they go to the chambers of the state Assembly and Senate where all of their work will be presented.
Ventriglia said the students will, “discuss their own ideas and will write, debate and vote on legislation, acting as Representatives and Senators in the actual State House chambers.”
Ventriglia said watching the whole process is a humbling experience.
“The kids go in there and they’re sitting in chairs, they’re debating, they’re taking over the mics; it’s all them. It’s an incredible event and has life-long impacts. The students there are the best and the brightest of New York State.”
At the school board meeting the students presented a short simulation of creating a bill aimed at helping Veterans receive better health care. Ventriglia told the school board that these students are our future leaders in action.
“It gives you tremendous hope and optimism for what’s out there,” he said.
High School Junior Eva Carbone is President of the club and was one of the three original members of the Youth and Government program.
“This simulation of what happens in our very own Congress helps to improve the groups public speaking skills, betters the community and make new friends,” she said. “Youth and Government is an incredible and useful program that helps find the change-makers of the future.”
Ventriglia noted that the Marlboro club participated virtually in a competition with surrounding Orange County school districts and won three of eight positions. He concluded the presentation by thanking Robin Hecht, Superintendent Michael Brooks, Principals Debra Clinton and Ryan Lawler of the Middle and High Schools respectively, for their support of the Youth And Government program.