Jersey City, NJ. On Thursday, December 3, 2015, students from the Explore 2000 Middle School toured the New Jersey State House and met with Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. The visit was a part of the school’s study of America’s Freedom Fighters and Make a Law! workshop. The students learned about the State House’s history, art and architecture, as well as the legislative process and about their state representatives who work there.
While the tour generally covers the Governor’s Reception Office, Senate and General Assembly Chamber galleries, the students received a special welcome by Speaker Prieto, who held a discussion with them in his personal conference room.
“It was amazing to meet the actual man who runs the Assembly meetings!” said Explore 2000 Sixth Grade student R. Hreb. “We just learned about his important role, and there he was.”
Speaker Prieto encouraged the students to continue to pursue their education in their vocational school district. He also shared a story about a painting of the New Jersey State Seal with the group, which was done by a Hudson County student when now Congressman Albio Sires was state speaker.
“December 3,  will always be a notable day for the Explore 2000 family,” said Explore 2000 Middle School Principal Amy Lin-Rodriguez. “We would like to thank Speaker Prieto for taking time to personalize the tour for our learners.”
In addition to the tour and workshop, students were able to see first hand how a bill becomes law. At the time, Assembly Bill 4105 or “Detective Melvin Vincent Santiago’s Law” named after the fallen Jersey City Police Detective and Explore 2000 Middle School alum, was one step closer to passing in the assembly. On January 19, 2016, Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into public law, a week after the State Senate unanimously approved the bill. Thus simultaneously completing the legislative process for the bill and making the Explore 2000 Middle School students a permanent part of its journey.