Fresno High School Senate celebrating 125th anniversary

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A group of students in Fresno are celebrating history this year. They're part of a high school club that breeds deep traditions and promotes healthy debate.

Fresno High School Senate President Angela Romero pounds a gavel used by past club presidents for the last 11 years. It's one piece of history passed on through generations at Fresno High School. Romero, a senior, said, "I love the people there. I love the environment. I love how I'm able to speak my mind and how it taught me to speak my mind."

This year, the Fresno High School Senate celebrates its 125th anniversary. The club's newly renovated meeting room has a government feel and cases showing off its history: Past gavels, pictures from the early 1900s and banquet programs from 75 years ago. The Fresno High School Senate claims to be the longest continuously active club in the country.

Teacher and Senate advisor Kyra Orgill said, "It was a club that was originally designed to give students an opportunity to learn how to debate in an appropriate way, to learn how to disagree and also to agree with others."

Fresno High's 36 members take their roles in the senate seriously. They abide by a dress code and their own constitution which requires a certain amount of attendance and participation. They also must have at least a 3.0 GPA. The students meet every week for two hours on Monday nights to discuss controversial current events, finding ways to argue thoughtfully and intelligently.

Salvador Mendoza, a sophomore, said, "It brings out really strong feelings and points where people would normally just point at each other and really just be crude about it, but what we try to look for with these kind of topics is to help divert us from that, to help make it into a civilized discussion."

Orgill said, "Our senators going back 125 years have become pillars of the community locally, nationally and even internationally."

Refining speaking skills that will help them well into their careers while also keeping Fresno High School's long-standing tradition alive. The students will celebrate the 125th anniversary with past members at a special banquet later this month.

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