3 awards for Firehawk debaters at first-ever Zoom Model Congress


Photo from princetonmodelcongress.com

MODEL: Firehawk debaters managed three honorable mentions at this year’s meet in spite of missing fully half of the two-day competition.

By Benjamin Gamson, News Editor

Competing this year over Zoom, Shalhevet’s debaters won three honorable mentions at the two-day Princeton Model Congress conference last Friday and Saturday, in spite of missing the entire second day due to Shabbat. 

Senior Samson Taxon, senior Rena Harkahm, and sophomore Keira Beller won honorable mentions in their respective committees — Samson in Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Rena in Education and the Workforce, and Keira in Environment and Public Works.

Rena said everyone was already used to Zoom so that wasn’t a problem. But the lack of debating time was.

“It was harder to stand up and have body language and communicate with people around you,” said Rena. “[But] the thing that just hurt us the most was that we had to miss over half of it because of Shabbat.”

In previous years the team has traveled to Washington D.C., for the annual event.  This year it was held over Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 550 students attended from high schools around the U.S.

Debaters were sent Zoom links and debated one another’s bills — legislative proposals — in front of their computers. Each model Congressional committee had its own Zoom room. 

At last year’s Princeton Model Congress, Shalhevet missed a quarter of committee sessions and a third of the “full house” sessions. This year Shalhevet debaters missed half of committee sessions and all of the “full house” sessions due to Shabbat.

Mimi Czucker, one of the team’s co-captains, said she was proud that some members managed to win under the circumstances of missing half of committee sessions. 

“Without a doubt in my mind if we were there for a legitimate conference this year, we would have had many more winners,” Mimi said. “Knowing that people on our team still won, it was very exciting I was very happy to hear that.”

Samson Taxon: Honorable Mention, Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Rena Harkham: Honorable Mention, Education and the Workforce

Keira Beller: Honorable Mention, Environment and Public Works