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College in the Classroom visits NYS Capitol

The following content was contributed by the College in the High School – Participation in Government class. The article below was written by Laine Buanno & Kamryn Walton.

On May 8th, 2024, Mrs. Brown’s College in the High School - Participation in Government class consisting of fifteen students traveled to the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York. The class is pictured was Assemblyman Smullen (center).
On May 8th, 2024, Mrs. Brown’s College in the High School – Participation in Government class consisting of fifteen students traveled to the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York. The class is pictured was Assemblyman Smullen (center).

On May 8th, 2024, Mrs. Brown’s College in the High School – Participation in Government class consisting of fifteen students traveled to the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York. Once there, we took a tour of the capitol to learn about its history and also speak with New York Senator Neil Breslin and Assemblyman Robert Smullen. They shared time to answer our prepared questions voted on by students in our class. We asked Senator Breslin five questions where he highlighted the importance of having mental health professionals in all schools across the state to deal with our mental health crises. We were also able to ask Assemblyman Smullen seven questions, where he strongly expressed the need to guide children towards programs designed to aid kids in need. They carefully considered our questions and gave insightful responses recorded by other members of the class. 

When we arrived to meet Senator Breslin, he introduced himself to everyone and wanted to know everyone’s name and something about them. Next, our representative, Illyria Escher, asked Senator Breslin questions about suicide prevention, tuition costs, Medicaid, school safety, and artificial intelligence. Senator Breslin offered helpful advice such as more government spending and more school psychologists to aid students struggling with mental health issues, more programs to lower tuition costs and loan forgiveness, offering helpful statistics on the issue of Medicaid and children in America with no health insurance, the importance of discipline at home to support school safety, and how schools are keeping up with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Since the Senator has been involved in government for a long time, his answers varied from those given by Assemblyman Smullen. When we spoke to Assemblyman Smullen, Emily Griffin inquired about the same five topics, with additional time for fentanyl concerns and teacher shortages. Assemblyman Smullen added useful information, including suicide hotline awareness, financial assistance programs, school-based referral systems, bills to prevent children from having too much internet access, being prepared for new technology, drug awareness, and retirement systems for teachers. Overall, the questions were answered thoroughly and with mindfulness. 

Both of these local representatives were extremely approachable and easy to communicate with. We thank them for their time and knowledge and for making our trip to the capitol an enjoyable and enlightening experience. This trip allowed us to dive deeper into the world of political processes and governmental ideologies, and we were extremely grateful to have this wonderful opportunity this year. 

By Laine Buanno & Kamryn Walton