On Friday, October 27, 2023, seventeen juniors and seniors from St. Mary’s participated in the “National Civics Day” sponsored by Long Island University (LIU) at their White House Replica on the Brookville campus.
Among the other schools participating were St. Dominic’s High School, Islip High School, Levittown High School, Baldwin High School, Lawrence High School, Garden City High School and Locust Valley High School.
Each school was required to choose a president and cabinet members and then review and decide policy for three scenarios: (i) whether to adopt geoengineering to address climate change; (ii) whether to ban TikTok for national security reasons, and (iii) whether to continue to send military aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia. To inform the students’ cabinet decision making, LIU supplied each team with even-handed, in-depth background materials.
The press release from LIU captured the uniqueness of the conference perfectly. “Students of all ages dream of becoming president of the United States one day, but few have the opportunity to sit at the resolute desk or engage in an award-winning situation room role playing experience to fully understand what it means to be president. Now you can at the White House Experience High School Showcase at Long Island University on National Civics Day!”
Led by our History Department chair, Mr. Brendan Gilroy, our St. Mary’s team chose Miss Abby Guiheen SMHS ’25 as their president and discussed the pros and cons of all the scenarios before deciding on a policy for each. Once St. Mary’s policy positions were in place, Miss Guiheen presented them in a simulated press conference before all the participating schools. Fielding questions from other teams present, she defended St. Mary’s policy positions with remarkable poise and acuity.
Mr. Gilroy noted that a LIU facilitator took him aside after the event and congratulated him on the impressive performance of the St. Mary’s team, telling him that “our students came better prepared than the other schools and it truly showed in how well we worked together and formulated our policies in response to the scenarios.”
For Mr. Gilroy, the upshot of the day was clear: “We should all be so proud of our students for the way they handled themselves!”
As we all know, there is a crying need for good civics education in our country to prepare students to exercise their civic duties responsibly. St. Mary’s is deeply grateful to LIU for giving Mr. Gilroy and his talented students the opportunity to engage in issues that have such an important impact on the interests of all Americans – and indeed all peoples from around the world. St. Mary’s prizes critical thinking and critical discourse, and both were on abundant display throughout the conference.
A great learning experience was had by all!