WFHS Youth & Government Continues Tradition of Excellence


The William Floyd Youth & Government program continued its tradition of success and excellence at the 86th annual New York State YMCA Youth & Government conference held last month in Albany. Approximately 400 students from around the state gathered in Albany to engage in debating original legislation and argue appellate cases with their peers. William Floyd students demonstrated their skills and continued their dominance by garnering election to all 10 statewide officer positions that they ran for including the governorship and earning a plethora of legislative and judicial awards in the process.

“The William Floyd Youth & Government program continues to be the gold standard of student mock government programs in New York State,” said Kevin M. Coster, Superintendent of Schools, William Floyd School District. “Despite the challenges presented over these past two years, this program continues to excel and outperform all other programs across the state. Winning 10 statewide officer positions and numerous awards is a testament to the dedication, preparation and talent of the students and staff involved in this program.” Mr. Coster added a special thanks to their advisors and mentors, Robert Feeney and Patricia Costell.

Mr. Feeney has served as the program’s advisor since 1985 and has had the privilege of educating and mentoring generations of students with an interest in government and public policy. Under his tutelage, many former students have achieved success in public policy, government and law.

Due to the number of students involved, each legislative branch of government has two versions – Assembly Liberty and Assembly Freedom; and Senate Liberty and Senate Freedom.

Garnering election to statewide positions at this year’s conference were: Jae Kim, governor; Kyle Caputo, chief justice; Riley Bent, public defender; Sia Minhas, attorney general; Nikolas DelVecchio, senate pro-temp; Antonio Cortes, deputy, senate pro-temp; Sara Kellenberger, speaker, Assembly Liberty; Josh Schultzer, deputy speaker, Assembly Liberty; Justin Brucato, speaker, Assembly Freedom; and Rafay Cheema, deputy speaker, Assembly Freedom.

Earning an invitation to the Conference on National Affairs (CONA), the federal equivalent held in the summer in Black Mountain, North Carolina, are: Victoria Basharina, Justin Brucato, Nikolas DelVecchio, Sarah Duenzl, Jae Kim, Sia Minhas and Josh Schultzer. Selected as CONA alternates are: Kyle Caputo, Sean Guffanti, Koda Kane, Sara Kellenberger, Logan Novick, Olivia Phillips and Arianna Zeldin.

Legislative Awards
Best Bill: Jae Kim, Sean Guffanti and Madison Stinton (Assembly Liberty); Eric DiGiacomo, Josh Schultzer and Brendan Reilly (Assembly Liberty); Mathew Reis, Victoria Basharina and Elena Pirro (Assembly Freedom); Arianna Zeldin, Olivia Phillips and Koda Kane (Assembly Freedom); and Antonio Cortes, Nikolas DelVecchio, Josh Piquette and Sanaya Spruell (Senate Liberty).
Best Debater: Sean Guffanti (Assembly Liberty); Sarah Duenzl (Assembly Liberty); Victoria Basharina (Assembly Freedom); Koda Kane (Assembly Freedom); Arianna Zeldin (Assembly Freedom); and Adam Schultzer (Senate Freedom).
Judicial Awards
Best Brief: Ian Hua and Ariella Morano (Case C); Kayla Bundick and Aisling Aylward (Case B).
Best Attorney: Kevin Coleman and Ariella Morano.
Outstanding Firm Leader: Renae Kelly.
Notable Achievements
Senior Kevin Coleman won the Best Attorney award being the only attorney to ever win that award two consecutive years, which has never been done in Youth and Government history.
Senior Ariella Morano also won a Best Attorney award as well as Best Brief award, and those achievements have never been done before in Youth and Government history.

Ninth graders Kayla Bundick and Aisling Aylward, won a Best Brief award as well.

Ninth graders, Mathew Reis, Victoria Basharina and Elena Pirro won a Best Bill award in Assembly Freedom that passed unanimously with no dissenting votes – the bill was to increase the penalty for first degree rape. Additionally, the group consisting of Antonio Cortes, Nikolas DelVecchio, Josh Piquette and Sanaya Spruell also had their bill setting up term limits for the governor of New York pass with no dissenting votes. This feat has not occurred during Mr. Feeney’s 37-year tenure as advisor and to happen twice in one year is a testament to the hard work and preparation of the students.

Best Debater Awards were given to two ninth graders – Victoria Basharina and Koda Kane.

Victoria Basharina was also selected to attend the Conference on National Affairs in North Carolina, a rare feat for a freshman.


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