By Andrew Schneider
“The Great Neck South High School Government Club now has come to order,” bellows senior Alex Chakrin. All eyes are on him as the booming sounds of the shiny golden gavel smashing against the black board commands the attention of all club participants. “Are there any points or motions on the floor?” Chakrin asks his wide-eyed and eager audience. Filled with excitement, sophomore Bryce Labonski’s hand shoots up as he proclaims, “Motion to introduce An Act to Establish the 33rd Parallel.”
The anecdote above is a common experience for Chakrin every Monday afternoon. As president of Model Congress, Chakrin eagerly steps into the shoes of a politician on a weekly basis. He leads intense debates and discussions on relevant issues currently discussed by members of our government.
According to sophomore Andrew Cohen, Chakrin’s role is to “encourage every member of the club to participate so that they can be prepared for the conferences. He helps to teach everyone in the club parliamentary procedure so that they know exactly what to expect during the conferences.”
Chakrin actively offers a helping hand to all Model Congress participants with tasks including writing bills, doing research on debate topics etc… Taking the meaning of his title to a whole new level, Chakrin thrives upon guiding others in the club. Cohen explained that Chakrin’s individual attention towards club members has helped him “to be come a successful member of our Government Club.”
However, involvement in the Model Congress is not the only way Chakrin pursues his lifelong dream of becoming a politician. In fact, during the summer of 2011, instead of soaking up some summer sun, Chakrin interned and trained for Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel. “Most of the work tended to be of more clerical nature with more bill work during legislative sessions. But on occasion, I had the opportunity to participate in constituent affairs and help solve local problems in the district,” said Chakrin.
This opportunity truly opened Chakrin’s inquisitive mind to the world of politics. One of his main objectives over the course of the 57 demanding days he spent in Schimel’s office was to maintain strong relationships with local organizations across the state of New York. “This serves the purpose of keeping quality relations with local community members in order to promote Assemblywoman Schimel throughout the state of New York,” said Matthew Peterson, an intern who worked with Alex.
The internship was a pivotal job for Chakrin because it also helped him to develop necessary skills for becoming an activist in public policy. Peterson said, “Alex’s ability to speak with professionals most definitely progressed over the course of the summer and he truly learned the inner workings of a political organization. Alex learned about the importance of public relations, the passing of legislation, and partnerships with other political campaigns as major aspects of political associations.”
However, Chakrin has not yet figured out how he sees himself contributing to the world of government and politics. “I am so unsure where I will be in 15 years. Some days I’m in politics and others in business but most of the time I see myself helping others. The future is so uncertain, but my character and attitudes towards life will always guide me toward my career path,” said Chakrin.
Most who have met Chakrin immediately become overwhelmed by his political knowledge and insight. Whether it be sitting on the bus ride home or at dinner with friends, politics dominates most of Chakrin’s discussions with others. However, what most do not know is that Chakrin’s inner passion for public policy stems from his desire to help others. “I wish to have the chance to affect the lives of people in the community in a positive way,” said Chakrin. He feels that he can truly make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering with the power a politician receives when elected.
Knowledge about government is not the only thing Chakrin has gotten out of both his Presidency in Model Congress and Internship with Michelle Schimel. He has also learned the true meaning of becoming a politician. That is “to help others and bridge the gap between the public and the legislature. Politicians are the only way people have a say in government and when they are elected they take an oath to stand by the people and for the people,” Chakrin said.