The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



What is Harvard Model Congress and Why Should Students Join Next Year?


  This year’s HMC conference was very successful! Photo collage courtesy of HMC advisor Beth Meyers. 


  There are many clubs at San Luis Obispo High School, but not many students know what Harvard Model Congress (HMC) does. For students interested in politics, HMC is the perfect club for them. 

  Every year the club is invited to attend a mock congressional conference in San Francisco run by Harvard, where the club members represent certain politicians and go through the motions of passing bills and amendments in different committees.

  With HMC’s conference being last weekend, Expressions interviewed a few club members to see how the conference went and find out their plans for next year.

Expressions: What does HMC do?

President and senior Camilo Baltodano: We go to a government simulation conference in San Francisco that is run by Harvard University students.

Vice President and junior Leo DeTurris: We organize a trip to San Francisco for the purpose of giving students leadership experience and knowledge about our congress through the Model Congress that’s put on by Harvard. 

Junior Lucy Field: [It allows you to] get a lot of experience and [understand] what is going on in government. It also gets you excited about politics and debate.

Sophomore Sophia Bates: HMC serves as an opportunity for students to model the democratic process, which is especially important for kids who are interested in going into the government. It also serves as a general way to learn how to debate and how to get along with others.

Expressions: What was your role at the conference?

Baltodano: I was part of the Supreme Court special committee, and we argued and served as justices for three different constitutional cases.

DeTurris: I signed up to be a senator in the Senate Health Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. I portrayed Roger Marshall and we had two briefings, which are the tasks or the issues in the real world that we were assigned to solve. Basically, we just talked about a bunch of bureaucratic educational stuff.

Field: I was in the House Committee of Investigations and our main topic of discussion was healthcare so we talked about all facets of healthcare and heard [mock] testimonies from many people. 

Bates: I was in the Senate Judiciary Committee, so we were pretty much in charge of creating ideas for bills that would make certain decisions relating to previous laws.

Expressions: How did the conference go?

Baltodano: It went really well. I was honored to receive an award for one of the best delegates on the Supreme Court committee, and I had a really fun time.

DeTurris: It went really good. There were a lot of intimidating people there, especially in my committee. I learned a lot, and I also won [an award for] Best Delegate in Senate Full Session, which was rewarding. 

Field: I didn’t win any awards or anything, but I felt proud of how I was speaking and how I was distinguishing myself as a delegate.

Bates: The conference went really well for me. I ended up getting an award in the senate, and I won a speech competition, so I was able to give a speech at the closing ceremonies. I also felt like it was a great opportunity to be able to see how our government works, and a way to make new friends.

Expressions: Why did you join HMC, and will you continue doing model congress?

Baltodano: I joined HMC in sophomore year because my best friend had done it. I hope that I can keep participating in something like this, assuming I go to a college that has a Model Congress program.

DeTurris: I joined HMC my freshman year because my friend told me I should, and then immediately after joining [I loved it]. I’m into politics a lot too and this is probably the best club on campus to delve into [politics]. I’m definitely gonna be doing it in the future, I gotta run the club again next year.

Field: I will be doing it next year. I joined it because I wanted something similar to Model UN, which I’ve done at previous schools, and it just seemed like something fun that would look nice on college applications. 

Bates: I’m interested in law and the Ivy Leagues so I wanted to get a chance to check it out, see if I was interested and I definitely am. I’m very, very interested in doing it next year. 

Expressions: What is your favorite part of being in HMC?

Baltodano: Definitely meeting people from around the country who had similar motivations and also want to go into government, law, and politics. The food was really good too.

DeTurris: The conference itself, obviously, but specifically when we come together as the Full Senate or the Full House and we talk about the legislation that we passed [in smaller committees] and debate on whether or not we should pass it as a whole. That’s always the most fun to me, because it forces the kids to think on their feet since they’re not familiar with the briefings of the other committees. 

Field: What was really fun was the midnight crisis. Late at night, they come and they bang on your door, and they force you to go to your committee rooms and it’s a lot of fun. Being in the role of a congressman and seeing that perspective and acting like the government was very fun too.

Bates: Getting to be a person who I am not. I was Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas, on the actual Senate Judiciary Committee. It was very interesting to get to portray his viewpoints instead of my own.

Expressions: Why should students join HMC next year?

Baltodano: Students should join HMC because it’s a great opportunity to visit San Francisco, learn about our democratic process, get better at public speaking, and work with other motivated students.

DeTurris: The more people we get the merrier. They should join it if they have any interest in politics. It looks great on your college applications too because it’s run by Harvard and it’s a lot of fun. You get to go to San Francisco, and you get to peruse around downtown and eat lots of good food.

Field: HMC is just a wonderful opportunity. You have the ability to do so much and learn so much, and it gets you excited about things that normally would seem boring.

Bates: Students should join HMC next year because it’s a wonderful opportunity to build their speaking skills, critical thinking skills, and debating skills. It’s a way to think outside of the box, to challenge yourself, and to dare to dream, as was the theme of the conference.

  HMC is a great opportunity for students to learn about politics and grow their interests; make sure to look for their booth at club rush next year!

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Vyolet Burrus, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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