HARRISBURG -- While many may be participating in local government by voting today, several area college students took government participation a little farther this spring.
Southeastern Illinois College returned to familiar territory when it clinched the Model Illinois Government championship and was named, "Outstanding Small Delegation" in March.
This is SIC's 11th state championship in 16 years.
This year, SIC was the smallest school in terms of enrollment competing, and also had the second smallest number of competitors, with five.
"With only five competitors we were at a disadvantage against schools that brought as many as 25 students" said political science instructor and adviser Matt Lees.
The disadvantage disappeared by the end of the competition, however. SIC not only defeated every small school, it also outscored the large delegation winner.
"That fact alone speaks volumes about the quality of our students" Lees said.
"I can say that without a doubt that the experience was one of the best I have had," said Christian Lane, who played the role of a representative, "I will take it with me forever."
During competition students have the opportunity to debate bills in the actual House and Senate chambers in Springfield. This year, more than 245 students from 17 colleges and universities participated from across the state.
"This was my first year in MIG and I was absolutely blown away," first-year delegate Caleb Weiss said. "Meeting and working with all sorts of new people from around the state was a rewarding experience."
Southeastern Illinois College led all schools in total points, leadership positions, and won two major awards. SIC also set a new school record for per capita points (an average of two per student).
SIC students were also elected to five committee spokesperson positions and won elections for assistant house majority leader, assistant senate minority leader, and floor whip.
The team won awards for Outstanding Original Legislation, Outstanding Person in a House Committee, and had a finalist for Outstanding First Year Delegate.
First-year delegates included Sean Dillard of Harrisburg, Christian Lane of Rosiclare, and Caleb Weiss of Enfield.
Returning delegates included head delegate Tracy Stokich of Galatia and Jordan Franks of Rosiclare.
For the first time in school history, all five delegates secured committee spokesperson positions. Lane was also elected as floor whip. Sean Dillard and Caleb Weiss were also chosen to be the assistant leaders in their respective chambers.
Dillard played the role of a senator and crafted his own veteran legislation. The subject was particularly poignant, as Dillard served his country in Iraq.
"Delegates were genuinely impacted by both Sean's story and his honorable service to our country," Lees said. "Not to mention that he also wrote a very compelling piece of legislation. It was 25 pages long and written in statutory language. It was one of best pieces I've ever seen."
His bill was later named Outstanding Original Legislation.
Caleb Weiss was named a finalist for the Outstanding First Year Delegate Award, while another first-year delegate, Christian Lane, was named the Outstanding House Committee Person.
In acquiring two positions and one award, Dillard and Lane scored three composite points, leading the entire simulation in individual points and tying a school record.
While the freshmen delegates contributed a great deal, the success of the delegation can be traced to SIC's leadership.
Jordan Franks and head delegate Tracy Stokich led this group.
"Throughout the years Tracy has gained the respect of everyone both on our team and throughout the simulation. She is one of the most hardworking students I've ever had the pleasure of instructing," Lees said. "This win can be directly attributed to her leadership."