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Congress in Class

posted Dec 17, 2013, 1:04 PM by School Publications

    Each year, civics students at BHS await the famous unit for bill simulations. Each person becomes a senator, and must be addressed as such. Students are assigned to their party, then put into a group of four to form a new bill, gather information, and draft it on paper. Then, the debating begins as each group goes before the entire class of congress members to convince them to support their bill. If the bill passes the class, it's fate falls into the hands of the President, and teacher, Mr. Toby Harms.

    Mr. Harms finds the project important for a number of reasons. "From a communication and social standpoint, students have to work together, or their bill will be doomed from the start," he says. "From an academic view, I think it is vital that everyone understands the bill process.  Bills just don’t magically become laws; there is a lengthy process involved.  It isn’t just one person, but a group of people working together, hopefully for the betterment of our country.  Students need to understand the President doesn’t make any laws, because that is the job of Congress."

    The topics vary every year, depending on the students. This year, the bills range from full ban of abortions to drug testing for welfare recipients. Some of the topics in debate at BHS were actually in the real U.S. Senate committees this session.

    "I enjoy all of it," Harms comments. "It is different than our normal routine for most of the year. Taking students out of their comfort zone and watching them work on different skills can be challenging, yet rewarding. After sixteen years, there is something new about it every year.  Most students enjoy it as well, so that helps."

by Katie Carson