This past weekend, 14 Trumbull High School students participated in the 2018 Penn Model Congress competition at the University of Pennsylvania. With more than 700 students attending from about 45 schools across the nation, Trumbull took home the highest award, with the “Best Small Delegation Award,” Trumbull’s best-ever performance.

“This was a total team effort to bring back this plaque to Trumbull High School,” said faculty adviser Katie Boland. “I am so proud of the 14 individuals on the team and how hard they worked over the last few months to prepare for this conference and others throughout the year.”

The team consisted of seniors Ethan Bachand, Shane Carley, Derek Marble, Mimi Marino, Jessica Parillo, Laura Rosales, Alev Yorulmaz, and Larry Zhang, juniors Kyle Beck, Michael Cerulli, Daniella Chuka, James Dubreuil, and Manan Manchanda, and freshman Supriya Ganti. Co-President Ethan Bachand, who was selected for the specialized Executive Branch Committee as the secretary of state, said the team prepared intensively for the conference.

“For about five weeks before the conference, we would meet every week after school to debate our bills,” he said. “Each practice session felt like the real deal.”

Co-President Derek Marble called Model Congress the cornerstone of his high school education.

“Winning Best Small Delegation was truly a testament to all of our hard work over the past couple of months,” he said. “It was amazing to see every single THS student rise to the occasion on my last-ever conference.”

Throughout the weekend, the students competed as United States congressmen debating bills on various political, economic and social issues. In preparation for the four-day conference, each member of the team had to author his/her own bill, which was presented before a congressional committee.

Kyle Beck said his committee had engaged in spirited debate on such topics as protecting students from school shootings, free community college education, and expanding secondary education for students with developmental disabilities.

“I am extremely proud of the work our team accomplished, and believe my abilities to think on my feet, think critically, and speak to large audiences was in large part due to the preparation before the conference,” he said. At the end of the weekend, 11 out of 13 students had their bills passed through the committee level and five were selected for the full House or Senate sessions. All five bills were eventually passed in full House, with two of them by Daniella Chuka and Lawrence Zhang getting signed by the president of Model Congress that weekend.

Laura Rosales said it was rewarding to be able to talk about real-life issues facing the country, and work toward a resolution.

“The conversations that were sparked and the amazing debate that was given were the highlight of my weekend,” she said.