Schools Collaborate to Put on Mock Town Hall

Friday, March 1st was another very special day at Tri-Valley Central School. On this day, Tri-Valley’s 8th graders participated in a Mock Town Hall collaboration with 8th graders from Columbia Secondary School out of New York City. The Mock Town Hall went back to the year 1900 to debate the issue of building the local reservoirs in our area.

In preparation for the event, students from both schools learned a great deal about our local history with the reservoirs in their English classes. After learning about the history, all participating students were assigned to argue from the perspective of one of four different stakeholder groups: Catskill residents, New York City residents, New York City government officials, or workers of the reservoirs. They did further research to find evidence to support their arguments for their specific group.

On Friday morning, Columbia Secondary School came to Tri-Valley. Eighth grade students were mixed in their groups (half from one school, half from the other) and had the first part of the morning to meet in their groups and plan out their arguments. This also gave students time to get to know each other.

During the Town Hall, students debated back and forth about the issues concerning the building of the reservoirs. The New York City residents and government talked about the desperate need for clean water. The Catskill residents focused their arguments on the unfairness of it all—how they had to give up their livelihood and not receive adequate compensation in return. The
workers talked about their lack of safety on the job and their need for more rights.

All points and arguments were heard by the moderator of the event— local resident, former Assemblyman, and President of the Time and the Valleys Museum, Dick Coombe, as well as a panel of esteemed guests: Amanda Eberly, Tri-Valley Secondary School Principal; Marsha Fink, Time and the Valleys Museum Volunteer and local resident; Diane Galusha, published author and former Communications Director/Education Coordinator at Catskill Watershed Corporation; Brent Gotsch, Technical Advisor, Reservoir Releases, NYC Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Supply, Water Resources Management; Erin Long, Tri-Valley Superintendent; Lynn Priebe, Time and the Valleys Museum Board Trustee and local resident; Brittany Schenck, Forestry Executive Assistant and West of Hudson Educator and Watershed Agricultural Council; Frank Snyder, Tri-Valley Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment; and Tyler Van Fleet, East of Hudson Forestry Program Coordinator and Watershed Agricultural Council. At the conclusion of the Town Hall, the panel gave feedback to the students about their

After the event, all students, teachers, and panel members had time to sit down and eat lunch together. The lunch was catered by the Neversink General Store. The lunch gave the students more time to get to know each other.

This hugely successful event allowed students to learn about our local history, meet other students from a different area and school, and practice their public speaking and debate skills. As is the case with many events in our community, it could not have happened without the hard work of everyone involved: students, teachers, staff, administrators, community members, and parents.