8th graders “passed laws” and “elected a president” as part of annual Model Congress

The annual tradition for eighth-graders to create and run a government turned civics lessons into a real-world application.

All eighth-grade students participated in Model Congress at the end of the first semester. Social studies classes tasked students to make a bill that was about a real-world problem in the U.S.  The Congress started on December 15 and ended on the 21.

Social Studies Teacher Ms. Isabelle Arriaga said, “The hardest part was getting students to follow the dress code.”  There were also logistical issues that she wanted to improve.  “I would like the classes to work together more like having the students from different classes talk to each other.” 

One requirement for Model Congress was an elevated dress code.  Students were expected to wear professional wear such as slacks and button-up shirts or a suit for the boys. The work itself was about passing laws.  Students wrote a bill and advocated for it in front of their classmates, arguing why the problem is prioritized and how the proposal will help resolve the issue.

For example, a bill that passed in Arriaga’s third period was about legalizing abortion.  Following the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade, abortion was hotly debated in many classes. 

Eighth-grader Adriana G. said, “My bill was about not banning abortions, so young girls have a choice if they feel like they can not take care of a child.”

Aside from passing the bills, there was also a mock election.  The political parties were the “boys” and “girls.”  The boy’s candidate was Juan P., and the girl’s candidate was Lucia V.  Before the election, a debate took place in the P.A.R., and all eighth-grade students were invited to attend. The election was held in social studies classes, with different classes representing different states, similar to the electoral college.  Principal Mr. Ray Gonzales provided updates at the end of the day regarding the progress of the election.

Lucia, who won the election, said, “I was excited to be the precedent for the eighth-grade Model Congress.” She also said, “My favorite part was seeing everyone professionally dressed.  I think everyone did a good job looking professional.”

Model Congress has been an annual tradition. According to Mr. David Chee, Model Congress has been going on for at least 20 years. Model Congress is a MacArthur tradition that will continue for many more years, for all eighth-grade students.