The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

Civics students present bills at Committee hearing

On December 1, Shorewood High School’s new Civics course held its first of three committee hearings. During the day-long event, students in the course engaged in the process of legislation, debating and ultimately deciding whether to pass bills addressing issues they deemed important. Over the course of the semester, students worked in groups on their bills, all in anticipation of their debate in committee.

“First, we had to come up with ideas for our own bill, and then once they got cast by the people who are on the committee, we had to all choose one of the ones we passed and join a team,” said Katherine Purvis, junior and committee chair. “Each [person] wrote different parts of the bill and did research.”

Preparing for their roles in the hearings required hours of work outside of school. Students devoted their time to researching, preparing arguments, and refining their bills. Some students also helped organize the hearings themselves, such as Andrew Sibila, junior and majority party leader.

“At least once a week, I have to come in before school from 7:008:00 to help Mr. Perez and the committee with important decisions regarding the bills and the overall structure of the class,” Sibila said.

The process of crafting these bills was just the first step. Next, students were divided into formal committee discussion groups for hearings, and bills that were to be officially debated in committee were selected.

“As the majority leader, I had to help the rules committee make decisions about the groups everyone was in for the bill hearings,” Sibila said. “[I] had to make the hard call of what bills that got passed would get cut from the next stage of bill procedure.”

Students further prepared for hearings by reviewing the bills and writing speeches.

“To prepare for the bill hearings, I had to make a speech to give at the start, and I also had to read over all of the individual bills so I could get a grasp on what each one was about,” Sibila said.

This year, a change in staff created a shift in the Social Studies curriculum, replacing American Government with Civics. Previously, American Government was structured as a semester-long close reading and breakdown of the Constitution. Jesse Perez, social studies and Civics teacher, noted the main difference between the two courses is the new simulation style. Perez stated that the intention of Civics was to educate youth on the works of the American government. 

I was proud of how quickly our group worked together.”

— Andrew Sibila, junior and majority leader

“[Civics] is a semester-long simulation where students get to be members of the Legislative Branch,” Perez said. “I was looking and seeing that civic engagement with young people is extremely low.”

For students like Purvis, the simulation provided a deeper understanding of the legislative process.

“I knew how bills and stuff worked, but I didn’t know how they were passed and how things went, so it’s kind of cool to learn by participating,” Purvis said.

Committee hearings were solely steered by students, making them responsible for ensuring equity of voice.

“It’s all steered by the students, so each committee has two people who are committee chairs,” Perez said. “They’re responsible for steering that conversation, making sure everybody gets an opportunity to speak.”

According to Sibila, students valued the opportunity to participate in civil discourse.

“I was proud of how quickly our group worked together and how even though we didn’t agree on everything, we were very civil towards each other,” Sibila said.

Perez appreciates the enthusiasm and commitment students were willing to give.

“I want to give a shoutout to all the people who were part of the rules committee, which is all students who were elected,” Perez said. “They had to come early in the morning [at] 7 am for a couple of weeks … I’m just thankful that Shorewood allowed me to do this.”