Nine members of the South Orangetown Middle School Debate Club presented three bills that they drafted at the New York State YMCA Youth and Government Conference in Albany November 15-17. After delivering a candidate speech at last year’s gathering, SOMS eighth-grader Matt T. was selected to serve as President of the Senate for the 2018 statewide youth legislative event.
SOMS student-sponsored bills were:
- Bill #69 sponsored by eighth-grader Dylan M. and seventh-grader Lance H. aims to reduce smoking and vaping by substantially increasing taxes cigarette and vapes purchases. FAILED
- Bill #70 sponsored by eighth-graders Thomas F., Cate D. and Sean M. proposes a statewide mandatory 9AM start time for public middle and high schools based on extensive research on adolescent development which links later start times to better student outcomes. PASSED
- Bill #71 sponsored by eighth-graders Ailish M., Matt T., Anna P. and Aine M. would establish text and other expanded access to 911 to strengthen public safety. PASSED
Delegates debated bills with more than 200 peers from across the state on the Senate and Assembly floors, toured the State Capitol and met with government officials. In addition, SOMS students earned awards for Outstanding Bill (Bill #71), Outstanding Delegate (Ailish M.) and Outstanding Debates (Sean M. and Thomas F.).
“These are the memories middle school is made of,” says Library Media Specialist and Debate Club advisor Kimberlee Landgraff. “These students displayed a set of skills that involved research, speaking, leadership and discipline. There was a high level of camaraderie displayed between the bill groups, peers, high school students and adults present at the conference. SOMS students made us proud!”
2018 SOMS delegates pictured below (not pictured: Thomas F., Anna P. and Lance H.).