At the invitation of Mayor Thomas Koch, seventy students from North Quincy and Quincy High Schools had the opportunity for a special pre-opening visit the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on Friday, March 6. The Institute is located on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Dorchester and will be open to the public on March 31, 2015. The students were accompanied by Mayor Koch, Principals Lawrence Taglieri and Robert Shaw, and staff members Al Costa, Danielle Fernandez, Meg McMillen, and Sue Nash. The Quincy Public Schools group was among the first to see the Institute’s exhibits, including a unique full-scale representation of the United States Senate chamber. Cutting-edge technology is evident throughout the Institute, realizing the late Senator’s goal that the Institute will “serve as a new model for civic education and public discourse.” The highlight of the visit was the virtual experience in the Senate chamber where students were assigned roles and participated in discussion, debate, negotiation, and voting on an immigration reform bill and Presidential appointments.
Quincy High School student Stiven Kodra said, “Going to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute was a great experience. Seeing a model of the actual Senate and being able to participate in a debate on current issues gave me better insight into how the government operates on a day to day basis.” His classmate Marina Chafa took away from the experience that “… issues, such as the ones we discussed, are not cut and dry. There are many opinions, therefore, what I learned is it is important to aim for compromise on these issues in order to reach the best results.” North Quincy High School Thomas Murphy said, “I loved how realistic and well-thought out the museum experience was. We got a chance to talk about current issues and to give a voice to our opinions.” Another North Quincy High School student Kevin White noted “I really enjoyed being able to interact with my classmates and the staff at the Institute. They were so helpful and excited to have us …”
Principal Shaw, Principal Taglieri, and Superintendent Richard DeCristofaro appreciate the efforts of Mayor Koch for providing our students with this amazing opportunity to tour the Institute and pilot the virtual experience simulation.