By Yuze Sun
You may have heard rumblings about the “Congress project” going on in Mr. Wilgus’ class. Five months ago, the 11th grade history teacher, launched a mock government in order to simulate the US government. Students were elected into this Congress, and an economy was created. Slowly but surely, a government was built, and named d.mocracy.
The first Congress election featured a wide variety of students, each with his or her own agenda. 14 people were elected, with many more excited about the possibilities of this new system. However, with nothing in place except a Constitution and Congress, there were a lot questions the d.mocracy government had to answer. The main questions were around the economy. Congress debated about how the economy should work, and how class, or “state” would have currency allocated to it
“We were basically Alexander Hamilton” Mr. Wilgus summarized, comparing the first Congress’ efforts to those of the first Secretary of the Treasury. However, unlike Alexander Hamilton, the first Congress’ ideas were far from realized. By mid-January, when the classes were shuffled, only a basic idea of how the economy would be created was formed.
After the classes were shuffled, there was another election for the second Congress. Many of the people who had participated in the first Congress were re-elected; only about a third of the second Congress were new members. This Congress focused primarily on establishing an economy. There were two different parts to this. First, Congress needed to create a form of income for its constituents. To do this, each period (state) was assigned a percentage of available John Green U.S. History Crash Course videos, based on its population. The students had to make quiz questions for those videos to earn currency, which was eventually named “Wilgubucks.” Each state had its own method of distributing questions, but most decided on distributing equal amounts of questions to each student. The second part, was to create a system to keep track of the Wilgubucks. This system was primarily created by David Boles, who was later assisted by Michael Bentley. The first system was not very well-made, and had to be remade twice. The final system was created using Google Scripts and web publishing.
The third and final d.mocracy government term had the lowest turnout in terms of people running. Only about 10 people ran, and all got in, due to a lack of competition. Some states only had one person run for Congress. There were several reasons why enthusiasm for the election was so low. Many had lost interest in Congress, while others simply had no time. This election also included d.mocracy’s first presidential election, which was won by Jose Obregon. Xavier Rosales, runner up, was appointed as Vice President, because there wasn’t enough time for another election. The third term of d.mocracy’s government’s primary goal is to finish setting up the other branches of government, and to prepare for future iterations.
The project was far from perfect, and there are many different ideas on how to improve the experience. “I want to start it earlier next time” said Mr. Wilgus, a thought echoed by most of those who participated in the government simulation. Others suggested more organization, working faster, and/or more meetings. Despite its downsides, the participants of d.mocracy’s Congress would agree that the experience was positive, and would definitely continue if given the chance.