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  • Reno High Wins We The People Western Region
    In a video story and article, KOLO television praised the performance of the Reno High School students. Student Ian Duke called it the best class I've te A group of Reno High School students has returned from Washington DC with a trophy from this year's We The People Competition. They went there as the wild card, but ended up taking top honors for the Western States Region. It's a first for the school. The contest is set up as a mock Congressional hearing. The students are broken up into groups to study a specific topic. During the competition, each group gives a four-minute presentation followed by six minutes of questions from an expert panel. An entire class period is dedicated to preparation. Team members say the class is as rewarding as it is challenging. In past years teams from Incline Village and Reed High School have also qualified for national competition. In 2015 Reed qualified in the top ten. Students at Reno High say this experience has already helped shape their futu

  • Fifth-graders talk rights, responsibilities in mock congressional hearing
    Intimidating panels that included a judge, a school board member and the supervisor of elections, among others, didn’t shake groups of fifth-graders as the youngsters fielded questions on the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens with confidence - impressing, and sometimes amusing, the families and teachers gathered to watch. The question-and-answer sessions, held Tuesday evening at Dunnellon Elementary School, were the culmination of a civics curriculum that fifth-grade teachers have used to supplement social studies classes this year at Dunnellon and Marion Oaks Elementary Schools. That curriculum, We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution, calls for a simulated congressional hearing at the end of the year to showcase what the students have learned. Doug Oswald, who helped organize the event and who uses the We The People curriculum with his Career Academy seniors, said the hearings have long been taking place in Marion County at the high school level. The extension of the program into local elementary schools is more recent, he said, with Dunnellon and Marion Oaks Elementary Schools signing on for the first time this year. Representatives from both schools said it had been a positive experience, and that they planned to continue using the curriculum next year as well. “These kids are going to be outstanding citizens and do great things for our country,” said Gay Street, Dunnellon Elementary School’s principal. For the Dunnellon students, the mock congressional committee included county judge Thomas Thompson and Anna DeWese, director of grants and federal programs for Marion County Public Schools. For the Marion Oaks students, the panel included Bobby James, chairman of the Marion County School Board; Wesley Wilcox, supervisor of elections; and Renee Dudley, executive director of academic services for Marion County Public Schools. The students faced the panels in groups of three of four, first answering a baseline question in a four-minutes of prepared statements and then speaking more spontan

  • Capital Region team shines again in constitutional competition
    For a second consecutive year, a team of young constitutional scholars from the Capital Region have earned a major award in a national competition. The 11-student New Visions: Law & Government team from Capital Region BOCES competed April 23-25 in the We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution competition in Washington, D.C., as the two-time defending New York state champion and became the first team from the state in the competition’s 29-year history to win the Northeastern States Award. To earn the regional prize, the team bested 137 finalists from nine other states and the District of Columbia. The team comprised 11 students from schools throughout the BOCES district, including Julian Schlemmer and Mutaz Ali of Troy High School; Margaret Richards and Katie Gibson of Ichabod Crane; Kyle Hurysz of Maple Hill; Alex Wilgocki and Gabrielle Agostino of Mohonasen; Mathilda Scott and Keenan Loder of Cobleskill-Richmondville; Morgan Daignault of Sharon Springs; and Daniel Sonthivongnorath of Scotia-Glenville. The team was led by teacher and attorney Rich Bader. Nearly 1,300 high school students from 40 states gathered for the national finals, with the initial field of 54 classes reduced to 10 finalists based on their combined scores over two days of testing of their constitutional knowledge. Though the Capital Region BOCES team did not reach the finals, they were chosen for one of five awards given to the top non-finalist teams by region. To win the award, the students had to demonstrate outstanding expertise in all six units of knowledge and critical thinking covered in the competition. Advertisement “We The People transcends the material, the knowledge, obtained through the competition. It teaches students ‘how’ to think, instead of ‘what’ to think,” Hurysz observed. Last year’s New Visions team was the first from upstate New York to win the state competition and advance to the national finals in 28 years. That team also won a national award for best non-finalist team performance in one of the competition’

  • We the People Team Excels in Washington
    For the fourth year, Brown County Junior High School students competed on the national stage in a way that made their community proud. The eighth-grade We the People team placed second in the national invitational at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. News came late in the evening Monday. “I know the kids are a little disappointed, but they showed very well and we’re really pleased for them,” Superintendent David Shaffer said. The first-place team was from Virginia. Their teacher, Michael Potts, said he could not be more proud of his students, “not only just the way they performed in terms of knowledge and their hearings, but just the way they’ve performed all year has been a real class act,” he said. “We had so many people really tell us how much they appreciated that. To me that means an awful lot.” The eighth-graders had been in Washington, D.C., since April 29, testifying in mock congressional hearings, answering questions about the U.S. Constitution from Supreme Court justices, law professors, state representatives and history professors. This was Brown County Junior High School’s second-straight runner-up finish; two previous BCJHS teams won the invitational. Tuesday afternoon at around 4:30, the students will arrive back at the junior high school and hope to see their community waving signs and flags. Their school bus will be escorted by local authorities and there will be a short parade through the center of town on Van Buren Street, a Facebook event post states. “It wouldn’t matter if we finished dead last, I could not be more proud of them, and, really, they should be proud of themselves for all of the hard work they’ve really put into this,” Potts said. “They don’t see it yet, because they’re eighth-graders, but the things that they learn in this program are going to really carry them to really great heights. I really look forward to seeing how far they go.”

  • Vestavia Hills High School Chooses to Continue We the People Program
    Vestavia Hills High School’s 15-year-old We the People program almost lost both of its sponsors at the end of the school year. However, after several discussions, sponsors Amy Maddox and Jane Schaefer have decided to continue teaching the mock-congressional hearing competition class. Maddox first heard about the program when she was teaching at Hewitt-Trussville Middle School. After she was hired at VHHS, she asked to start the program. Schaefer joined as a co-sponsor in the 2007-08 school year. Both Maddox and Schaefer considered stepping away from We the People at the end of the school year, but Maddox said conversations with VHHS Principal Tyler Burgess and a desire to meet the needs of an ever-growing number of high-achieving students helped encourage them to stay. “Dr. Burgess shared his vision of the future at VHHS with us, and We the People was a part of that vision,” Maddox said. “Because of the growth in student numbers and the impact of the new schedule, both Mrs. Schaefer and I were facing changes in our daily schedule. This freed us up to look anew at the possibility of continuing We the People and making positive changes that we feel will make the program even stronger going forward.” The program provides a chance for students and VHHS to be recognized locally and nationally, Burgess said, and he is glad the school can continue to provide that opportunity to its students. "We are obviously excited that the program is going to continue," he said. Maddox and Schaefer's decision to remain with the program was made late in April, after the 2015-16 We the People team participated in the national competition and placed fourth. Maddox said this year’s competition did not affect their decision to stay with the program, but they are grateful for the team’s hard work. Because We the People is a large time commitment both in and out of the classroom, Burgess said they were having a hard time finding another instructor take over the course. The school will look toward the hiring process for potential fu

  • Reno High Wins We the People Western Region
    A group of Reno High School students has returned from Washington DC with a trophy from this year's We The People Competition. They went there as the wild card, but ended up taking top honors for the Western States Region. It's a first for the school. The contest is set up as a mock Congressional hearing. The students are broken up into groups to study a specific topic. During the competition, each group gives a four-minute presentation followed by six minutes of questions from an expert panel. An entire class period is dedicated to preparation. Team members say the class is as rewarding as it is challenging. In past years teams from Incline Village and Reed High School have also qualified for national competition. In 2015 Reed qualified in the top ten. Students at Reno High say this experience has already helped shape their futures.

  • We the People team thankful for donations
    It is with great pleasure that I inform you that the We the People team reached our goal of $38,000. However, as many of you know, as you sit here reading this letter and drinking your morning coffee, we have already competed and are on a flight home, and the release of the results shall make its way around the county. I, as well as my teammates, would like to thank you for the opportunity you gave us. Once we return to Brown County we look forward to telling you all about our experiences in our nation’s capital. Thank you once again for all of your support and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Tanner Bowman, member, 2015-2016 We The People Team BCJHS

  • Constitutionally confident: We the People team finishes eighth in national competition
    Passion and preparation breeds success. That’s what Katie Boland’s AP American Government class exemplified last month when 24 seniors from Trumbull High School placed eighth in the 29th annual We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals. The three-day simulation of congressional hearings on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which was held in Washington D.C. from April 22 to April 26, 2016, was the culminating moment for Boland and her students after they took home six first place finishes at the state-level competition in December. “Being able to sit back and watch them excel the way that they did was one of the highlights of my teaching career,” Boland told The Times Tuesday. “They were so well prepared and that came through in how they delivered their answers — they were excited and energetic, but also really confident and composed. “It was impressive to see how they worked together and come together like a family, like they have time and time again,” she added. Trumbull High School is familiar with the national competition — it has been there 21 of the 29 possible times as Connecticut’s representative. However, last month’s achievement marks a rare moment for the AP students as only six other Trumbull teams have reached the prestigious top ten hearings and none higher than the eighth place finish nabbed by this year’s group of constitutional masters. “Just to put into perspective, over 500 teams compete throughout the country during the year and 54 were picked to compete in D.C.,” explained Boland, who took over the program in 2012 and has taking the team to the nation’s capitol every year since. “Of those first-place, state champion-winning teams we were in the top eight — it’s a very rare class to be in and a great accomplishment. “It doesn’t happen often,” she added. With many We the People alumni and plenty more Trumbull parents making the haul down to see the team testify in the Longworth Building on Capitol Hill that weekend, Boland knew that her students were po

  • A More Perfect Union: Geist area resident teaches Constitution 101 class for adults
    A chance meeting between a Fishers city councilor and Geist area resident led to a new opportunity for area adults to restart, refresh or kick-start their civics and government education. “I was asked to be a judge for Fishers’ We The People teams,” City Councilor Cecilia Coble said. “The first night I volunteered, I happened to be paired up as a judge with the national director of the We The People program.” That was Geist area resident Robert Leming, a longtime teacher involved with the Center for Civic Education for nearly 30 years and national director of the We The People program — which offers students opportunities for civics education and competition — since 1998. The pair created Constitution 101, a six-week course offered to area adults eager to learn more about the document in which our nation’s government was established and how it continues to apply to life today. Leming considered it an experiment to see what sort of response such a class would get. “What I’ve learned is there are people who want to do this but don’t know about it or what I’m realizing is adults have a craving for understanding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and government and it’s been a long time since they’ve been in school,” he said. “There’s a real need, but more importantly a want, to participate and learn.” The group engaged in interactive discussion on a variety of topics covered by and concerning the constitution, its historical context, case examples challenging its power and its relationship to present-day current events. “We were interested in the topic and we’ve been here in Fishers for about five years and felt this was a good opportunity. We’ve gotten a lot of good information out of it,” resident and class participant Lou Rush said. “We’re taking lessons on an important theme. We were students a long time ago, so some of this intended to refresh us on what the Constitution was about and all of our rights. The group has done a nice job of discussing all of it.” Fay Rush said she enjoyed Leming’s presen