Fifty Westhampton Beach Middle School students recently traveled to Albany to participate in the New York State YMCA Youth and Government Conference. They took home numerous awards.
The most distinguished achievement was given to Catherine Robesch, who successfully lobbied and won the position of Lieutenant Governor. She will serve at the 2024 Youth and Government Conference in Albany. To earn the coveted position, she outperformed over 25 other candidates from districts across New York State. Additionally, Isabelle McCarthy was awarded Best Overall Delegate of the conference. This was her second time taking home this prestigious award.
The cohort also received an Outstanding Bill award for their lotto bill, which was authored by seventh graders Cole Farruggia, Theodore Isaacson, Ryder Kirchner, Kellan Magner, Anthony Nuzzi, Tucker O'Neill, Matthew Palamidessi and Brayden Williams. Best Debater awards were won by Emilia Harrington-Matros, Magner, Sebastian Rivera and William Sultan.
Under the direction of adviser Kelly Massaro, the students prepared for the three-day conference by drafting six bills and related arguments. They presented their bills during the conference as part of a simulation of the state's democratic process. They also acted as senators and assembly members, debating and voting on mock bills presented from a variety of school districts across New York State.
The students' bills included amending New York State tax law to allow winners of the New York Lottery to claim prizes without the disclosure of any identifying information; amending Assembly Bill A898B to extend the age that a noncustodial parent would be required to financially support a disabled dependent; requiring police agencies in New York State to train a minimum of 15% of their staff as Drug Recognition Experts; making New York State a no kill shelter state; requiring every New York State school to add a one-semester financial literacy course; and amending New York State Law Section 168-f(b-2) and (b-3) to require registered sex offenders to more frequently check in with parole officers.
Westhampton Beach Middle School was one of the only participating schools that passed all of their bills on the floor and without veto from the acting governor.