AP Government Classes Form Mock Congress with Real Effects on Ursuline

Students across America are limited in the area of decision making. From voting to running for political positions, anyone under 18 does not have much of a say in what happens in their day-to-day lives. Students and children are often held inferior by their superiors. However, things changed for Ursuline AP Government students for a week.

It remains difficult for students, especially when they are uninvolved in politics, to fully understand the ins and outs of how a law is made. AP Government students began studying the Declaration of Independence at the start of the school year, learning about the foundation of the U.S. After reading The Federalist Papers and the Constitution, students had a good grasp of how the U.S. government works. They study, in depth, what it takes to be a member of the House of Representatives and of the Senate, and then they became versions of the House and Senate.

Bringing history forward,  Jeffrey Girard’s period six class became the Senate and his period eight class became the House of Representatives. Each class was asked to elect a majority and minority leader to speak on their party’s behalf. Once leaders were elected, the classes were asked to form groups to mock the committees in Congress and elect a chair for each.

 The committees focused on the ideas of cleanliness, well-being of students, campus beautification or athletics at Ursuline. Each committee was then asked to write a bill surrounding their area of interest, explaining key terms, defining the main purpose, proposing a budget and describing when the bill would take effect.

A good amount of work went into creating some of the bills. Students from period six visited the head of security at Ursuline, Auggie Trevino, to propose the relocation of police officers directing traffic in the dreaded Ursuline carpool lines. These students asked about the possibility of moving a policeman to senior lot to direct traffic. Trevino visited Girard’s sixth period class to give the students an in-depth explanation of how the traffic would flow with the new arrangement, and to announce that he would be officially making the change. “Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions, you never know, the answer may be yes,” Trevino said.

Other students calculated the cost of what it would be to install new air conditioning, a new workout facility and new microwaves in Haggar. Some bills focused on the metal health of students and asked for peer mentors to speak with or days with no homework while others focused on pest control. Journalism and AP Government student, Jackie Thomas ‘20, wrote a bill calling for a change in what types of credits Journalism, Newspaper and Yearbook count for. Thomas said, “It was interesting to see real debate come out of our bills, much like in real political discussions.”

When the two classes combined, they formed the Ursuline Congress, each with elected leaders, committees and bills ready to be voted on. Just like a bill being signed into law, the process of an idea becoming a real rule at Ursuline undergoes a lot of thinking, questions and hard work. The classes met on their own first to discuss their bills as the separate House and Senate.

The chairs of each committee presented their bills and then put them up for debate. Next, the elected leaders would propose a vote and tally to see if the bill would pass. A passed bill will be presented to Ursuline administration. After discussions with Dean of Students, Kayla Brown, Academic Dean, Elizabeth Smith and Grade Dean, David Beyreis, an electronic survey was sent out to both periods for the final vote.

Although the authors of the bills that made it through the final vote receive extra credit, the purpose of the exercise was for students to be able to have a voice for change in the Ursuline community.

Perhaps with administrators hearing students’ opinions and ideas in a professional way, things at Ursuline were bound to change. Have any of you noticed that you have been leaving Senior Lot slightly faster recently?

Well, students can thank the Mock Congress for that.

Image courtesy of Jackie Thomas ’20

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