Xavier High School students Benjamin Pitruzzello ’22, Jordan Hetu ’21, Daniel Lyons ’21 and Cole Sierpinski ’21 recently won awards for individual pieces of legislation they wrote and presented in their committees at the Yale Model Congress.
Pitruzzello also won an award at the Yale Model Congress last year.
“This is the largest number of awards our Model Congress team has taken home from a conference in living memory, and I was very proud of how well our students represented the school,” Xavier teacher and Model Congress moderator Jim Royce said.
Pitruzzello got the inspiration to explore the issue after reading an article in the New York Times. The title of Pitruzzello’s bill was “An Act to Transfer Cases of Military Sexual Misconduct to Civilian Courts.” Part of the preamble read, “Many people don’t speak out against people who commit these crimes. They are afraid of repercussions and being outcasts in a place they called home.” The bill called for taking away the power of the military to try its own and place that responsibility in the hands of the “nearest district attorney or other proper law enforcement officials.”
Sierpinski’s bill was called “An Act to Guard Against Deep Fake Technology.” Part of the preamble read: “Whereas if this technology gets in the wrong hands of nefarious actors, it could have catastrophic results on national security and other leading figures in our nation.” The bill called for a new task force under the National Security Agency to detect and combat deep fakes on the internet, only taking action if “the content is believed to pose a direct threat to national security.”
Sierpinski wanted to explore how to fight against this new problem of people purposely altering images and video to deceive others. He said Model Congress has exposed him to many things that he otherwise would not have experienced.
The bill by Lyons was “An Act to Stop School Bullying,” and its preamble cited various statistics to show that bullying is widespread in schools. It called for anti-bullying curriculum added to health classes in public elementary, middle and high schools. It also spoke of learning about the various types of bullying, such as “verbal, physical and cyber-bullying.”
Hetu’s bill was called “An Act to Save Kurdish People,” its preamble in part reading, “Whereas the Kurds have been among the most persecuted groups in the Middle East of the past several decades. Whereas the Kurdish have consistently fought for American interests overseas and have been just as consistently betrayed by our hand.” The bill called for a joint task force to be sent to northern Syria to ensure the protection of civilian Kurds.
Hetu said, "One of the most valuable parts of being in Model Congress is the ability to develop public speaking skills." He now feels confident in that regard and has also made new friends along the way.
-- By Jeff Otterbein