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.”
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.