Meeting of 5/14/15: ‘We the People’

Picture 3
Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

May 14, 2015

Attending (12): Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Peter Brown, Ray Hannan, Carol Orvis, Stewart Wagner, Roberto Martinez, Dick Drumm, Debbie Rodriguez, Charlie Foote.

Guests (9): Keefe Watson and parents Jeff and Karen, Vincent Caruso and parents Phillip and Kathryn, Jeremy Clement, Maggie and Jeremy Forth.

THE PROGRAM: “We the People”

From left: Jeremy Clement, Keefe Watson and Vincent Caruso of the New York State team.
From left: Jeremy Clement (Troy High), Keefe Watson (Columbia High) and Vincent Caruso (Averill Park High) of the New York State “We the People” team.

BellPresident Bill Dowd introduced Keefe Watson, a senior at Columbia High School who made the initial contact with our club to request help in funding the local team in the national “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” civics competition in Washington, DC. Keefe, in turn, introduced teammates Vincent Caruso of Averill Park High School and Jeremy Clement of Troy High School.

They took turns explaining the “New Visions” program in which they are involved. It is a BOCES-run effort that pairs students with organizations in government, communication, business and other fields. Students get real-life exposure to what otherwise is a theoretical study of various fields, but they must maintain their full school agenda as well. The trio was in the “News Visions: Law and Government” sector, interning with a district attorney, state senator and law firm.

One of their academic advisors urged them to get involved in the “We the People” competition. After much preparation and effort, they entered the regional level competition in January and 10 of them advanced as a team to the state finals in February where they finished ahead of five other teams to become New York State’s representative in the nationals.

In Washington, D.C., they were assigned six different topics, or units, in which they had to answer hypothetical and real-world questions, giving their opinions and defending their stances when quizzed. Among the units: British history and their form of law that does not have a single written single constitution, relying instead on a collection of documents and practices; compromise and how it was necessary for our government and how our Constitution has changed; the role  of Congress and how it has changed; the Bill of Rights; trial by jury, and freedom of speech and the press.

Students were given a strict four-minute limit as a group to speak from notes, then had to answer questions unaided. The judges included lawyers, military personnel, judges, “We the People” graduates, and other professionals. In the various units, the New York team placed third, fourth and 17th among 56 teams, winning a Unit Award.

The students also spoke about other aspects of their six days in the Washington area, including visiting monuments, taking bike trips and meeting with local congressman Paul Tonko.

In the fall, Keefe will be enrolling at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Jeremy at American University in DC, and Vincent at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.


THANK-YOU LETTER — Treasurer Murray Forth announced receipt of a note of appreciation from all the students in the New Visions Law and Government  Class of 2015 which included 10 names for the SRC Rotary Club’s $1,000 contribution. He also read the proclamation about the team’s achievements.

MEETING SCHEDULE — President Bill reminded members we have just five meetings left at Quigley’s before the annual Presidential Changeover Dinner, which will be hosted by Peter and Debbie Brown on June 25. Thereafter, our summer casual schedule will include several outings and hosted picnics. Anyone interested in hosting should contact  President-elect Terry Brewer or Vice President-elect Debbie Rodriguez.

POCKET CHANGE DRIVE — We are nearing the end of the year-long  “Pocket Change” drive to benefit The Great American Milk Drive, a national food pantry supplemental program. As we did last year, we will ask members at the Presidential Changeover dinner to submit written guesses of how much money is in the jar and the person guessing closest to the amount, either over or under, will win a free meal at our first September meeting. Jim Butterworth won last year.

SCHOLARSHIPS — Checks and congratulatory letters have gone out to the two winners of a pair of $500 scholarship awards for our annual Rotary Essay Scholarship Competition — Annie Paone of Tamarac High School and Paige Pangburn of Troy High School.

TRIVIA EXTRAVAGANZA —  Bill issued a reminder  for everyone to refresh their memories to recall everything they ever have read or heard about in their lives in the areas of geography, sports, show biz, food & drink, and science. That will come in handy on May 28 when he presents “The Great North American Whizbang Trivia Test of 2015.” Prizes and much praise will be awarded to the best and brightest – and luckiest – among us.

NEXT MEETING: Adam DiSantis of the Nigro Cos. will speak on “Eastwyck, Glenwyck and other ‘Wycks” that are part of the current boom in the creation of retirement and full-service residential communities.


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