Comprised of students from several area high schools – including Mohonasen’s Alex Wilgocki and Gabrielle Agostino – the New Visions: Law & Government team bested on Feb. 27 nearly 150 finalists from five other school districts from across the state.
The Capital Region team now advances to the national competition that will be held in Washington, D.C. on April 22-25. Last year’s New Visions team was the first team from upstate New York to win the state competition and advance to the nationals in 28 years.
In addition to Alex and Gabrielle, the team includes: Julian Schlemmer, Troy; Mutaz Ali, Troy; Morgan Daignault, Sharon Springs; Margaret Richards, Ichabod Crane; Katie Gibson, Ichabod Crane; Kyle Hurysz, Maple Hill; Mathilda Scott, Cobleskill-Richmond; Keenan Loder, Cobleskill-Richmond; and Daniel Sonthivongnorath, Scotia-Glenville.
To win the state competition, the New Visions: Law & Government students, who attend the program for a half-day and their home high schools the other half, had to explain the philosophical and historical foundations on which the American political system is based.
In the setting of a simulated congressional hearing, the students “testified” before panels of judges, 18 judges in all, to demonstrate their extensive knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles, and they evaluated, took, and defended positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.
The 11 New Visions: Law & Government students competed and beat out five other regional champion teams ranging from 17 to 35 students from Long Island, New York City and western New York, said their teacher, attorney Rich Bader.
One of the judges, Christopher Riano, a lecturer in Constitutional Law and Government at Columbia University, Partner at Drohan Lee in New York City, and keynote speaker at the State finals, remarked that the New Visions students “worked phenomenally well together” in demonstrating an understanding of the Constitution that was both in-depth and extensive. Another judge, James Acker, a Distinguished Professor at the University of Albany, said he didn’t want the students’ testimony to have to end.
“My spirit sagged when I saw the time sign go up,” said Riano.
Bader said, “The New Visions: Law & Government students prepared for the competition in part by studying ‘We The People: The Citizen and Constitution’, an intensive curriculum focusing on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” Funded and run in New York by the New York State Bar Association’s Law Youth and Citizenship program since 2010 when Congress stopped funding this civic education program, the program has benefited 30 million students nationally during its 29-year history.
New Visions: Law & Government is a career-exploration and honors advance placement and college-credit-granting program offered by the Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical School for honors-level, college-bound high school seniors. Participating students attend the program for a half day and their home high schools the other half of the school day.
For more information, call Rich Bader at (518) 486-2613 or visit http://capitalregionboces.org/CareerTech/Programs/NVLG.cfm.
New Visions: Law & Government students are of strong Constitution—Local high school students enrolled in the Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical School’s New Visions: Law & Government program are the winners of the 2016 We The People Region 3 competition. Pictured from left to right: (Front) Morgan Daignault, Sharon Springs HS; Margaret Richards, Ichabod Crane HS, Katie Gibson, Ichabod Crane HS; Kyle Hurysz, Maple Hill HS (seated). (Back) Mathilda Scott, Cobleskill-Richmond HS; Julian Schlemmer, Troy HS; Keenan Loder, Cobleskill-Richmond HS; Alex Wilgocki, Mohonasen HS; Mutaz Ali, Troy HS; Daniel Sonthivongnorath, Scotia-Glenville HS; and Gabrielle Agostino, Mohonasen HS.