May 21, 2018 / 2018 National Invitational, E-news, We the People
Ten middle school teams attended the 2018 We the People Invitational, showcasing their knowledge on civic education and their public-speaking skills at the National Conference Center from May 4 to May 8.
Fishers Junior High School from Indiana placed first with teacher Mike Fassold. Second place is held by Rachel Carson Middle School in Virginia, led by teacher Cynthia Burgett. Bob Graham Education Center from Florida placed third with teacher John Brady. The awards ceremony was broadcast live on Facebook, where unit awards were also announced. For full results from the competition, see the Center for Civic Education’s website.
Each class competed in teams organized by the six units of the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution textbook. Each unit deals with one aspect of American constitutionalism. Students are asked challenging questions about constitutional issues by a panel of expert judges made of accomplished scholars, attorneys, and public officials, among others.
To see more of the students and activities from this year’s National Invitational, visit the Center’s Flickr page!
May 17, 2018 / 2018 National Finals, E-news
Over one thousand students attended this year’s We the People National Finals! Fifty-two high school teams from across the country brought their constitutional knowledge to the National Conference Center for this year’s National Finals, impressing us all with their understanding of history, government, and current events.
This year’s first-place winner was Oregon’s Grant High School, led by teacher Angela DiPasquale. Following in second and third places are California’s wildcard team Foothill High School with teacher Jeremy Detamore and Oregon’s wildcard team Lincoln High School with teacher Rion Roberts. In addition to the top-ten awards, unit and regional awards were also presented. See the full list of winner’s on our website.
Grant High School from Oregon was this year's first-place winner.
Students testified before panels of judges made up of lawyers, professors, judges, and other experts in simulated congressional hearings that tested constitutional knowledge, as well as students’ understanding of current events. The top-ten teams were announced at Sunday night’s We the People dance, and these teams went on to compete in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill for the final day.
Miss America 2018, Cara Mund, delivered this year’s keynote address, reminiscing on her own time as a We the People student in 2012 and stressing the importance of civic education in a democratic society.
Do you want to relive the best moments of 2018’s We the People National Finals? Head to the Center’s YouTube channel to watch hearings and interviews; the Flickr page for all the weekend’s pictures; or search #WTPfinals on social media to see all of the posts from the event.
Apr 13, 2018 / 2018 National Finals, E-news
We are pleased to announce that this year’s guest speaker for the 2018 We the People National Finals is Miss America 2018, Cara Mund! A We the People alumna herself, Cara’s team won the North Dakota We the People state finals in 2011–12. “My participation in the We the People program taught me the importance of being politically engaged at a young age,” Mund says. “As an admitted law student, advocate for female empowerment and increased political engagement, and someone who aspires to be the first female governor of North Dakota, I would have never realized my passion for civic education, government, and representing others had I not participated in these programs.”
Cara Mund is the first Miss America from North Dakota. Photo by Matt Boyd Photography.
Mund has a long track record of giving back to her community. At fourteen years old, she founded North Dakota’s Annual Make-A-Wish Fashion Show that has raised $78,500 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This work was acknowledged by President Barack Obama in 2011. She received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University, graduating with honors in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations. She has since served as an intern in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota and will be attending law school.
This sense of civic duty is ongoing, and she credits her civic education for teaching her that her voice matters. “Over the past 6 years I have realized the impact both the Center for Civic Education and its We the People programs have had on my life. As a female from North Dakota, I learned through these programs that my voice matters. I continue to show my support because I would not be who I am today or possess my current career goals had I not been involved with the Center for Civic Education and its We the People programs. I want to help other students do the same.”
Cara’s (right) We the People team won the North Dakota state finals in 2011–12.
The thirty-first annual We the People National Finals competition will be held April 27–May 1 in Washington, D.C. Over 1,100 high school students from 52 classes from throughout the nation will demonstrate their understanding of government and the Constitution by participating in congressional hearings and exploring our nation’s capitol. Follow the Center on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with the weekend’s events and updates!
Nov 15, 2017 / E-news, We the People
Robert Leming, Director of the Center’s We the People programs, spoke at this year’s Birmingham Seminar on Civil Rights.
In his opening remarks, he honored those who fought for the cause of human rights. “We are here this weekend to honor those who were involved in the struggle, those who suffered discrimination, and those who given their lives for the cause … I am looking forward to this weekend with you, because I believe you are about love. You love your country, you love your families, you love your students, and you understand the importance of civic education.”
The Center for Civic Education has invited hundred of civic educators to experience the Birmingham Civil Rights Seminar to cultivate relationships with civil rights leaders and other educators. This year, Ms. Carolyn McKinstry, Ms. Janis Kelsey, Mr. William Collins, Ms. Martha Bouyer, Mr. Doug Jones, and Mr. William Baxley—who were personally involved in the civil rights movement—were some of the leaders who attended the seminar.
Three members from Charleston, South Carolina, spoke about their roles in the case of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The seminar was sponsored by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Birmingham Division. Speakers’ highlighted the weekend’s theme of hate crimes speaking on the tragic massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015; the murder of a transgender woman named Mercedes Williamson; and the history of hate.
For more on the 2017 Seminar on Civil Rights, check out the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
Nov 14, 2017 / E-news, We the People
The fourth annual We the People Boot Camp for Nevada Congressional Districts 1, 3, and 4 took place October 14, 2017 at Spring Valley High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
More than 300 students and 25 teachers participated. Presenters included District Coordinators Debbie Berger, Trey Delap, and Michael Vannozzi, Judge Elissa Cadish, Professors Rachel Anderson (UNLV), Sondra Cosgrove (College of Southern Nevada) and David Tanenhaus (UNLV), Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, Faiss Middle School Principal Roger West, Canyon Springs teacher Dr. Lou Grillo, and Clark County School District Social Studies Coordinator Jaynie Malorni. Congressman Ruben Kihuen’s Assistant Ashley Garcia was also on hand for the Boot Camp demonstration and workshops.
Professor Tanenhaus said that, for him, the highlight of the event was watching young people discover how relevant what they’ve been learning is to the world around them. “The students [were] working in groups to discuss how the most talked about stories in the news all related to constitutional elements,” he explained. Those events included the ongoing controversy about the National Football League (NFL) and the recent Vegas massacre. “They realized that the We the People curriculum gave them the vocabulary they needed to discuss these connections.”
Jayne Malorni, Roger West, and Dr. Lou Grillo demonstrate WTP Hearing
The president of Nevada’s League of Women Voters, Professor Sondra Cosgrove, was also impressed with the level at which participating students were working. “In [my] sessions, the students were highly motivated and eager to ask questions and share information,” she said. “We discussed research methods for leveraging online resources, as well as criteria for judging resource reliability. The students demonstrated a wide-range of research experience and constitutional knowledge, and a willingness to engage in debate.”
Vannozzi, a coordinator for District 4, was equally impressed. Working in small groups for just 15 minutes, he tasked his students with researching and composing answers to questions. The students then chose representatives from each group to present their answers in no more than 90 seconds. “The results were fantastic!” Vannozzi enthused. “Afterward, I had several teachers tell me that they will use our ‘sample follow-up question’ exercise in their own classrooms.”
Many of the students found the day valuable and said that it allowed them to become more comfortable with the hearing process, and the question and answer sessions. They also got to practice connecting current events with the U.S. Constitution using social media, technology, and other research tools.
Oct 04, 2017 / E-news, We the People
The Center would like to acknowledge the continuing generosity of the American Judges Foundation
(AJF). The Foundation voted at its annual meeting in Toronto to increase this year’s contribution to the Center for Civic Education for the We the People
program to $5,000 to support the We the People program. They have also made it an ongoing donation. In her gracious remarks, Judge Catherine Shaffer said, “This outstanding nonpartisan organization provides top notch civic educational opportunities for students across the United States via its highly praised ‘We the People’ program. Keep up your wonderful work!”
The Center thanks Judge Shaffer and her many colleagues in the American Judges Association
(AJA) not only for the grant but, more importantly, for the extraordinary services they have continued to render over the years as scholars and volunteer judges for the We the People program. Judge Shaffer is a King County Superior Court judge and currently serves as the AJA President-Elect. She has a long history as a participant in the We the People program, for years having served as a judge at the Washington State Finals and also as a judge at the National Finals competitions.
The American Judges Association is the only judicial organization that represents judges from both Canada and the United States and is the largest judges-only association in the US. Civic education and judicial education are central to its mission. Its members include a cross section of judges from all levels of courts with all levels of jurisdiction—a diverse group that, when united, speaks as the “Voice of the Judiciary.”
For additional information please contact John Hale at the Center.
Sep 25, 2017 / E-news, Project Citizen
Ghanaian students have now been participating in Project Citizen programs for eleven years! Since 2006, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has been organizing Project Citizen in all ten regional capitals of Ghana to empower young people with the knowledge and skills to be informed citizens.
Students from both senior and junior high schools identify real-world issues in their communities and present their research and solutions to a panel of judges from various academic disciplines. Judges evaluate the presentations and arguments of students who come up with solutions to solve real issues they have identified in their communities. Some topics researched by students include teenage pregnancy, cement dust pollution, child marriage, and elections.
Students present their project to a panel of judges.
Participants develop critical thinking and research skills, confidence in public speaking, and knowledge of the public policy process. These tools are critical in helping them understand democratic values and principles, so that they may demand transparency and accountability on key issues in Ghana.
NCCE has also collaborated with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to form Civic Education Clubs in public and private schools, where students are extending their civic education beyond even their Project Citizen portfolios.
Aug 14, 2017 / E-news, We the People
Each year, the American Lawyers Alliance recognizes three teachers of law-related education as the American Lawyers Alliance Teachers of the Year. At this year’s awards breakfast and ceremony on August 11 in the Yale Club of New York, the winners celebrated came from a broad section of the country, from the Ozarks to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Read the rest of this entry »
Jun 08, 2017 / Civitas International Programs, Project Citizen
Nearly four hundred students, teachers, and young artists participated in the 20th annual Project Citizen Finals in Bosnia and Herzegovina this year, presenting public policy portfolios that represented thirty-five elementary and high schools. The event was hosted by Civitas Bosnia and Herzegovina (Civitas BiH)–a Civitas International Programs partner–as well as the U.S. Embassy Sarajevo Office for Public Affairs and the state government Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Students show their understanding of public policy by applying it to issues that affect their lives and communities.
Participants assembled in the Great Hall of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday, May 20, as Paul Horowitz, the United States Deputy Chief of Mission, declared the opening of the showcase. Other notable attendees were Leah Pease, head of the U.S. Embassy Office for Public Affairs; Rahela Dzidic, the U.S. Embassy education specialist; Adnan Husic, Deputy Minister of Civil Affairs; Predrag Damjanovic, head of the Republika Srpska Pedagogical Institute; and, Zoran Matosevic, Deputy Minister of the Middle Bosnia Ministry of Education.
Project Citizen teaches students the fundamentals of democracy at all academic levels and provides practical ways for young people to participate as responsible citizens. Students identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy, and create a political action plan to enlist local or national authorities to adopt their proposed policy. Participants develop a portfolio of their work and present their project in a public hearing showcase before a panel of civic-minded community members. Students often contact public officials and attempt to convince them to adopt their policy proposal.
In this year’s showcase, students explored social problems and advocated for their resolution by suggesting changes to public policy. Project Citizen is one of the many programs led by Civitas BiH. Since its establishment in 1996 as a joint initiative of the Center for Civic Education, Civitas BiH has been viewed as a leader in civic education. The academic and training materials developed by Civitas BiH are the only materials in the official curricula in use by all ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s elementary and high schools. With interculturalism as a focus, Civitas BiH organizes multiethnic youth democracy camps, homestay exchanges, volunteer activities, and school lessons to create a democratic culture in schools.
Although the Project Citizen Finals weekend was drawn to a close by Drew Giblin, the U.S. Embassy Attaché for Culture and Education, Civitas BiH continues to promote the goals of increasing civic education and creating a willingness in young people to use democratic procedures for making decisions and managing conflict.
May 22, 2017 / We the People
The Center for Civic Education celebrated 30 years of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program with the 2017 We the People National Finals, held April 21–24 on Capitol Hill and at a new location: the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia.
Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School placed first in the 30th Annual We the People National Finals.
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