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Model Student Senate: Educating Tomorrow's Leaders in Brevard Public Schools

From February 22-23, Brevard Public Schools hosted the Model Student Senate. Over 100 high school students from Cocoa High, Edgewood Jr./Sr. High, Heritage High, Melbourne High, Rockledge High, Space Coast Jr./Sr. High, Titusville High, Viera High, and West Shore Jr./Sr. High participated in this event.

 

Model Student Senate is a government study program, which has been a staple in BPS for the last 40 years. Students portray US senators, write bills, testify on and debate them, and ultimately pass them. Throughout the experience, the students learn how the government truly works as they write, deliberate, and pass legislation.

 

Students took on the roles of secretaries, pages, and senators. Prominent US senators such as Marco Rubio (Savannah Nazario - Edgewood), Rick Scott (Twisha Mehta - Edgewood), Bernie Sanders (Kathit Kadakia - Viera), Chuck Schumer (Riley Blum - Melbourne), Dick Durbin (Lauren Batache - West Shore), Mitch McConnell (Connor Cornell - Viera) and more were all expertly portrayed by the students. US Vice President Kamala Harris was also portrayed as she is the President of the Senate. Vice President Harris was portrayed by West Shore student Massimo Sullivan.

 

Teacher of the Year finalist and social studies teacher Jeffrey Draves of Viera High School has been a sponsor of the Model Student Senate for more than 20 years. Furthermore, he has been involved with the program for over 40 years due to the fact that he himself participated in the event when he was a student at Cocoa High School.

 

“Doing these programs makes a huge difference for these students. I feel at home with them,” Mr. Draves said. He also expressed that programs like the Model Student Senate are needed to build interest in politics and social studies within students. He believes this program is a great way to get them familiar with politics and actively involved.

 

The students’ passion for the program was evident throughout the event. Fiery debates raged on as bills were introduced to the senate and voted on. Viera High sophomore Kathit Kadakia is participating in his second year of the Model Student Senate and he views the program as not only a way to learn about politics but also meet students he would not have met otherwise.

 

“I would say give it a try! It’s a great way to meet new people and to learn about our governmental system,” Kadakia said.

 

Following the event, awards were given out to students based on their effectiveness and skill. Here are the results:

 

  • Most Influential Senator - Charles Smith, Cocoa High (Richard Blumenthal)

  • Judges Commendation Award - Aaron Murphy, West Shore High (Mike Rounds)

  • Best Committee Chairman - Alexandra Codallo-Quinones, Melbourne High (Gary Peters)

  • Best Ranking Senator - Abby Hightower, Titusville High (Charles Grassley)

  • Most Effective Committee - Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

  • Most Effective Page - Calem Amato, Edgewood High, and Jackson Poirier, Melbourne High

  • Most Effective Secretary - Jeremiah Anteliz, Space Coast High

  • Most Effective Senator - Kathit Kadakia, Viera High

  • School Commendation Award - Cocoa High School

 

Chris Spinale, Director of Curriculum at the University of Central Florida’s Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government, served as a judge for the event. Spinale also participated in the Model Student Senate as a student at Titusville High School. He urged that students who are curious about politics should consider joining the program.

 

“The research shows that when students engage in simulations of democratic processes their proclivity to engage as adults significantly increases. When students are given that opportunity to practice what it's like to engage as a voter or a US senator, it gives them a deeper understanding and a deeper appreciation of what a country’s democracy provides,” Spinale said.

 

Thank you to all the students, sponsors, and judges for their commitment to making this event a success. Additionally, thank you to Jennifer Jolley, Social Studies Content Specialist - Curriculum and Instruction, for organizing such an amazing, insightful, and inspiring event.

 

Posted 2.26.24