January 7, 2018

GOA’s Smallest Group of Big Winners

Aaron Lavitsky ‘19

Winning several awards every year, GOA’s most successful club is a real life version of David and Goliath.
Model Congress Club was started at GOA five years ago by History teacher Mr. Ober. Ober, having been a lawyer before he became a teacher, was always interested in the ways the law works in this country.
“I was the Model Congress adviser at my last school,” Ober said. “What I saw in Model Congress was real-life experience in all areas that students take with them in their lives: interaction, how to disagree. It’s what students who I taught 15 years ago remember.”
GOA’s Model Congress Club participates annually in the New Jersey Model Congress competition. During the 2016-17 school year, around 240 students attended. That number jumped to around 500 this year.
“I think the increased number of students will definitely make it more challenging,” Josh Kalet, a junior member of the club said. “But, I feel strongly that our delegation will have no problem winning as much, if not more.”
Kalet’s assumption comes with good reason. Every year GOA’s Model Congress Club is one of the smallest delegations at NJMC, with some schools sending 30 to 40 students compared to GOA’s 15. Only six delegates are elected to each of the three party leaderships and only one member from each school is allowed to be a leader in a party.
This does not stop GOA’s delegation from winning; every year since Ober started the club, GOA has had at least one representative in party leadership. For the past two years, GOA has had one member in the leadership of all three parties, which is the maximum amount allowed.
“I think we are so successful because our students love and have fun thinking deeply about what they care about,” Ober said.  “I think we bring a sense of joy to debate.”
GOA’s club doesn’t just win positions in party leadership. The school’s NJMC delegation often wins awards for successful legislation and its students are recognized for being great debaters almost every year.
Last year, current GOA junior Theo Deitz-Green received the award for Most Outstanding Delegate. This is a very prestigious award that is only given to the few exceptional delegates in all of NJMC.
“Mr. Ober is a fantastic adviser,” Deitz-Green said. “He gives you the debate skills you need to succeed and shows you how to manipulate debate.”
Even with all the recognition it receives during its competitions, GOA’s Model Congress is still one of the smaller clubs in the school. It is often overshadowed by other similar clubs like Mock Trial and Model UN. For one of GOA’s most successful clubs, it rarely receives much recognition.
“Is it underappreciated? No. People know how well our students work and how well we do,” Ober said of his students. “I think that people could be more aware of it and we could be more heavily attended. We fly under the radar and are a little more underappreciated than Model UN.”
Ober always welcome new students to the club, as he believes that debating and the legislative process can be taught easily.
“I wish more students would join because they are welcome.”
No matter the size of the club or the competition, Model Congress will continue to succeed. And while the appeal of the club may not be widely know, Ober knows the value of his club.

“We’re almost an academic athletic team. It’s fun to compete. We’re a tight knit group and we support each other. Everybody enjoys it.”

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