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Guest Panelists Talk Civics At New Rochelle Symposium

Panelists discuss issues with New Rochelle High School AP students Thursday.
Panelists discuss issues with New Rochelle High School AP students Thursday. Photo Credit: Justin Stock

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – The New Rochelle Fund For Educational Excellence brought Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni (moderator), Iona College professor Alex Eodice, NY1 Inside City Hall host and CNN contributor Errol Louis, New York City Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Margaret Morton, and New York state Assemblyman-elect Steve Otis to New Rochelle High School on Thursday for a panel discussion about various issues, which students wrote about in essays for the fund's civics week.

Idoni, Louis and Morton graduated from New Rochelle High School.

Panelists also judged the essays, which the students peers debated.

Louis said he was glad to see more students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses than when he was in school.

“Just to see how much the program has grown is kind of impressive,” he said.

Essay topics, based on what students in AP U.S. Government and Politics and AP Macro Economics think President Obama should focus on during the first 100 days of his next term, included the following:

  • Nicolette Fudge: "The Wage Gap and Gender Inequality: Why the U.S. Needs the Paycheck Fairness Act
  • Sumathy Kumar: "Racially and Socioeconomically Skewed Incarceration Policies"
  • Thomas Hobson: "A Case for Gun Control"
  • Cesar Zepeda: "Immigration Policy"
  • Devin Savaskan: "First Hundred Days: Obama Must Divide and Conquer"

New York State Assemblyman Steve Otis (D) said he wants every student to have a bright future.

“I’m thrilled to be here with all of you and wish you luck in all of your future endeavors,” he said.

Fund Co-chair Meri Hilton said the students put a lot of time and effort into their writing.

“I think it’s interesting. The kids really work hard,” she said of the 10-day project meant to imitate a college-level course.

AP U.S. Government teacher Deborah Minchin said students engage themselves in conversation.

“It is very open,” she said.

Students are selected to present after researching their topics for 10 days and winning an essay contest.

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