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Potsdam’s Chichester takes top honors at Student Congress

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MADRID - Madrid-Waddington hosted the Regional Qualifier for Student Congress on Saturday.

This is a chance for students who would like to earn an invitation to the New York State Student Congress tournament but have not yet acquired the satisfactory points to get the required points. Those students who have already earned their bids were not eligible to participate in this competition. So, the competition this day was relatively small.

The presiding officer was nominated and elected by the membership of the Senate. The members chose Senator Alyssa Ryan, Madrid-Waddington. The docket of bills was set and the show was on the road.

The first bill involved a revision of a law prohibiting American citizens from traveling to Cuba. Potsdam’s Senator Daniel Chichester authored the bill and tried to explain that there were many Cubans living in Miami and the southern Florida area who fled Cuba years before due to the tyrannical ways of Fidel Castro.

Once they fled, they were forced to give up any chance of seeing or visiting their families still in Cuba. The bill asked that the ban on travel to Cuba be lifted for economic reasons as well as humanitarian reunion of families. The discussion was brisk and heated.

The second bill was authored by Senator Anna DeRosa, Potsdam, who, due to illness was unable to join the Congress for the day. In her absence, Senator Daniel Chichester sponsored her bill to require that all dogs and cats have a chip installed. The intent of sthe law was to have a method with which to identify the owner of any pet found wandering the streets, either accidentally or forcibly.

This would prevent unnecessary homelessness to pets as well as abuse or abandonment. The chip could then identify the owner and determine if that owner is responsible for his animals. It would be a way to control people who do not care for their pets or frankly abuse them, and it could insure the happy reunion of family and pet if the pet ran away by breaking a leash or collar.

Senator James Miller, Madrid-Waddington, offered the next bill, one that would lower the voting age. His thinking was that if one is able to drive an automobile at age 16 why should young people 17 and older be refused the right to vote ? The question was pondered by the members; discussion was light.

The final bill was sponsored and authored by Senator Deea Das, Potsdam. It was a bill with which to increase funding for more mental health facilities and care providers. In short Senator Das wanted to make access to mental health care easier and in the long run to reduce the social stigma of having a mental illness. Her data was fabulous and her passion outstanding. She reminded us that 61 million suffer some sort of mental illness and most of those people do not seek care.

After the dust settled from all of the discussions, the judges ruled that Potsdam’s Daniel Chichester and Deea Das ranked one and two respectively. Third place went to Madrid-Waddington’s James Miller. Malone’s Jenna Murtagh grabbed fourth place. Potsdam’s Corinne O’Brien, in her first student congress tourney, spoke eloquently enough to earn the judges’ nod for fifth place. And presiding officer, Alyssa Ryan, Madrid-Waddington, was awarded the sixth place.

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