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Washington >> The Shepaug Student Project Foundation Inc. proudly supported the 14th Annual Shepaug World Affairs Forum held at Shepaug Valley High School. The forum titled, “Immigration and the Refugee Crisis” was moderated by Dr. George Rupp.

Dr. George Rupp, former president of the International Rescue Committee, and president of Columbia University, served as the keynote speaker and moderator at the Shepaug World Affairs Forum held on March 11. A student panel, led by senior Bianca Getzel, facilitated a discussion on potential solutions to the worldwide crisis of immigration and refugees. The forum serves as a Shepaug Senior Project requirement for Ms. Getzel. “Ms. Getzel embraced this project and worked with a panel of fellow students including senior Matthew Marchese, junior Jack Roush, and freshmen Bridget Snyder, and Wilson King; all of whom are also members of the Shepaug Model United Nations Club.” said Chris Dennis, advisor to the forum, and Head of the Social Studies Department at Shepaug Valley High School.

Held in the library at Shepaug, a diverse audience of over fifty community members asked students and Dr. Rupp questions that both tested their knowledge and defined their perspective on how to address this global crisis. The panel, who clearly were well-researched on critical topics including stateless people, economic assimilation, and finding solutions for refugee camps. When challenged, offered context for one audience member who asked “Why should United States citizens spend money to support other countries – why should we spend even one cent of every tax dollar on international aid?” Panelists replied with an immediate response, stating the United States spends only 2 cents out of every 10 dollars on international aid, which is well below all other developed countries. Panelists continued to express the advantages and moral reasons to help developing countries who are facing massive crisis due to wars, catastrophic droughts leading to famine, civil strife, and unstable governments.

The Shepaug Senior Project has been a distinctive requirement for students at Shepaug Valley High School for more than two decades. The Shepaug Senior Project is a full credit, year-long course that engages seniors in a self-directed project. Students practice important life skills such as initiative, leadership and organization. Shepaug has received accolades from The Connecticut Business and Industries Association, as well as the Connecticut Department of Education, who honored Shepaug with the distinction of “Lighthouse School.” The Shepaug Student Project Foundation Inc. a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was created to assist students to fund their project of choice, and support educational programs in the Shepaug Valley that enhance the student experience.