By Mark Reynolds
Marlboro High School Social Studies Teacher James Ventriglia is an advisor to the Youth in Government program. He and his students informed the Board of Education about their recent activities.
Ventriglia began by saying, “It is an absolute privilege to be here in your company tonight to share our accomplishments and just the fine students that we have representing Marlboro, not only at the state level but at the county level and within the schools themselves.” He added that four of the top ten high school students in Marlboro are Youth in Government members, including this year’s salutatorian and valedictorian.”
Ventriglia said the Youth in Government program started in Marlboro in 2018 with just three students and today there are about 40 students.
“It has grown to something tremendous,” Ventriglia said, pointing out that, “Democracy is more than being governed by a majority vote [but] is a process in government that must be learned and earned by each succeeding generation. Youth cannot inherit democracy, they achieve it as adults and it provides them opportunities and leadership...and for them to be here with the Board of Education is a tremendous honor.”
A number of students explained the program and praised the positive impact it has had upon their lives.
Harrison Solomon has been a part of this program since the 8th grade and said it gives students an insight into how bills are passed and allows them to play the role of a legislator or Senator.
“It is safe to say that this fantastic group that we’ve cultivated here in Marlboro have been leaving their mark wherever they go, strongly displaying that they are in fact our future leaders,” he said.
Eva Carbone, one of the original three members in the program, said they were unsure what they were getting themselves into that first year.
“To now having our members be on the cabinet and going to the National Conference, I can confidently say that Marlboro has and will continue to make an impact. Despite being greatly outnumbered by the larger schools all over New York, Marlboro has a reputation at the Youth in Government conference,” she said.
Julia Gaer was selected to a leadership role at the 2023 Youth in Government Conference and, “though often times stressful, it was incredibly worth it” as she and her peers worked to craft, edit and pass bills. She said they would work till late in the evening, “to ensure that all bills were sufficiently looked over and evaluated.”
Gaer will be one of 25 students who will be attending the conference on National Affairs that is scheduled for this July in North Carolina.
“At the conference, topics of local, federal or national concern are talked about, with the goal of gaining awareness of national concerns and issues present in government,” she said.
Middle School Social Studies teacher and advisor Kevin Egan said this program, “provides a unique opportunity to see our students put these skills into action while assuming the role of a Legislator. Not only does it connect to our Social Studies curriculum, but it gives children a better understanding of our government and an opportunity to actually act out the bill into law process with students from across New York State. We couldn’t be more proud of these students.”
Ventriglia said this is an exceptional group of students who are in a program that gives them a chance to see how government operates.
“It really is an opportunity for them to build confidence, to really be engaged with each other, to hear alternative points of view, to listen, in the company, not only of people on the local level within our own delegation, but at the state level,” he said.
Ventriglia noted that the Youth in Government program started in 1936 during the Great Depression and is now in about 40 states.
“There are tens of thousands of students in this program nationwide and they are all similar and like-minded,” he said. “I wish you could all be there to witness their growth and development over the course of the year. It is truly an honor to be a part of that process. This is a testament that Marlboro is doing the right thing. This is a robust program and it’s only going to grow, and hopefully after college they come back and we have the future leaders of our community right here.”
Superintendent Michael Rydell applauded the accomplishments of this group of students, saying that it starts with the advisors.
“Your passion was clear, and I applaud the two of you [Ventriglia and Egan] for making this happen. This is a life experience for our students, and they get one shot during their Middle and High school experience and you’re making it very rich with that dedication and passion.” Rydell thanked the Youth in Government students for their great presentation and praised them for their ‘incredible’ public speaking skills.