For more than 20 years, Champlain Valley Union High School has been attending a program called Princeton Model Congress. Run by Princeton University, high school students from all over the country travel to Washington DC during Thanksgiving Break to act as diplomats for four long days. Every year, about 40 CVU students are accepted to be a part of this exciting opportunity.
A month prior to the trip this year, 40 CVU kids received their committee assignments. Just like the United States’ congress, committees included real House and Senate topics such as the Judiciary Committee, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Environment & Public Works. Students developed a wide range of innovative and creative policies in the form of bills to make our country as strong as possible to present at the model congress.
At the conference, the CVU students were joined with their other committee members. These small rooms contained a variety of students from public schools, preparatory schools and Montessoris all over the country, all coming together to discuss solutions to real issues. Following Robert’s Rules of Order, kids presented their bill ideas, passed amendments and debated current and pressing topics, such as military spending and tensions in the Middle East.
Though the conference is just a model congress, students took this opportunity to bravely step up and turn themselves into authentic diplomats. Kids voted in favor or opposition to various bills in every room of Washington’s Hyatt Hotel. Many poured passion into their opinionated speeches, and CVU was happy to take home some speaker honorable mentions and many passed bills.
Hot topics among the young congressmen included the threat of terrorists, especially after the Paris attacks, and also environmental concerns. Students fought hard to get innovative solutions for these pressing issues passed, and in four days made more progress than the US congress could do in years! Ideas included funding to develop peaceful warfare in the US military, ramping up internet security, and initiating further research for green energy. High schoolers near and far were left with a better understanding of US government, their world, and a touch of inspiration.
As well as many hours of debate, the CVU delegation was lucky enough to explore their country’s capital and meet two of the three Vermont congressmen. Peter Welch and Patrick Leahy were able to leave their committee sessions to answer CVU’s questions and pose for a picture; an experience CVU students will not forget.
Exploring the city was an exciting perk of the PMC trip. For some Champlain Valley students, it was their first time in Washington DC. Groups of kids were eager to come up close to famous landmarks such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and World War Two Memorial. Witnessing the city where the laws that lead our life are created is an experience important to every child’s future. Princeton Model Congress provided some of our state’s kids with an in depth understanding of our country, important in strengthening Vermont’s future.