Debate team members continue to develop skills at PENNMC

Sophomore Grabowski leaves conference with two awards


Blaze Grabowski

Pictured (L to R): Aleksander Chernaev, Tenzin Jorden, Jason Hailos, Mr. Carr, Blaze Grabowski, Hunter Sefranek, Michael Lahullier, and Ewan Lee

Becton Regional High School’s debate members joined roughly 750 students from across the nation to participate in the 22nd annual Penn Model Congress held during the last week in March.

Sophomore Blaze Grabowski took home a Best Delegate in Full Session award in addition to Honorable Mention in Committee. Best Delegate in Full Session is earned by being recognized as the best out of a session made up of approximately 60 delegates and is one of the most prestigious awards distributed at Model Congress.

Penn Model Congress consists of four Houses and four Senates with five committees in each. “Committee meetings are 10-25 delegates, and the bills are based on the committee. My committee was Blue House Judiciary, so we discussed bills ranging from the court system to voting to prison reform. All committees that are from a certain House and Senate come together for full committee,” explained Blaze.

“My experience at Penn Model Congress was fantastic,” said Sophomore Blaze Grabowski.

Members of Becton’s delegation were able to participate in committees and pass bills similar to the United States Congress, and five out of the delegation’s seven bills were passed.

Students who attended the event included four-time Model Congress participant Sophomore Blaze Grabowski, third-time participant Sophomore Tenzin Jorden, and second-time attendees Sophomore Aleksander Chernaev and Freshman Ewan Lee. In addition, sophomores Hunter Safranek, Jason Hailos, and Michael Lahullier attended the conference for the first time.

While on the trip, Becton Debate Team Advisor Mr. Carr took time out to show students a few Philadelphia landmarks. “On Saturday, we went into downtown Philadelphia for cheesesteaks. We sat in front of Independence Hall and also got the chance to view the Liberty Bell,” said Sophomore Michael Lahullier.

Mr. Carr mentioned that some of the overall advantages of Model Congress are that students are given the opportunity to see new places, challenge themselves against other students, and also network with others. “It is a chance to get out of the team format, employ a different skill set, and make acquaintances that you can use to get your bill passed,” he added.

“My experience at Penn Model Congress was fantastic. We had many interesting bills, and the fellow delegates were very engaged in the debate. I got to become very good friends with many of my fellow delegates both in committee and our delegation,” said Blaze.

On March 28, the students listened to the opening ceremonies, the keynote speaker, and attended the committee sessions.

This year’s keynote speaker was Representative Madeleine Dean from Pennsylvania’s 4th District. Mr. Carr noted that a unique feature of Penn Model Congress is their strong roster of guest speakers.

Furthermore, on March 29 and 30, students attended more committee sessions, as well as full sessions for the House and Senate. On the last day, full sessions took place along with the closing ceremonies.

Mr. Carr noted that some of the strong suits of this year’s delegation were that first-time students worked very hard to prepare and that the students, in general, were not afraid to change and/or edit their bills.