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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Highlands High School Students Win National Award in the “We the People” Program

The Highlands "We The People" team won the Kentucky competition and traveled to Nationals this year. FTM file. 
“The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”
— George Washington

By Michele Pam Wright

After winning the state contest, Highland High School’s We the People class traveled to the Washington D.C. area for the 12th year in a row to compete nationally. The class is open only to seniors and promotes civic competence and responsibility while thoroughly studying the constitution.

The class has been taught by Megan Boimann-Hennies for the last eight years. This is the 13th time the class has won the state contest and gone on to the nationals and it’s the third time class has won a national award.

According to teacher, Boimann-Hennies, “We the People is a fantastic program that not only asks students to become experts on issues of US Constitutional theory, law, and politics, but also asks them to work collaboratively in real-world settings to achieve a common goal. This course not only prepares our students to excel in university settings, but more importantly, it helps them develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become productive local, US, and global citizens. 

I am exceptionally proud of this year’s We the People team. All of the students represented Highlands and the Commonwealth of Kentucky well at the National Competition, and in doing so, set a very high bar for future teams. This is very special group of students, both to me as an educator and as contributors to the Highlands community, and I look forward to seeing what they can achieve in the future!”

The contest was held April 22nd through the 26th. After competing in the contest at the University of Maryland, students spent a few days visiting national sites throughout Washington D.C. The students funded their trip partially through fundraising and support from the school, and then pay the rest themselves.

This year four students won a unit award for “The Rights that the Bill of Rights Protects” at the national contest. This is only the second time in Highland High School’s history that a unit has won an award at the national competition. The students who received the award (from left to right in the photo) are Kaitlyn Root, Jasper Noble, Oscar Heithaus, and Molly Mearns. (Below).

FTM file. 
At the contest, students are broken up into six competition units that examine a different aspect of US Constitutional law, history, and modern politics.  Those units are:

Unit 1: What are the Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System?
Unit 2: How did the Framers Create the Constitution?
Unit 3: How has the Constitution Been Changed to Further the Ideals Contained in the Declaration of Independence? 
Unit 4: How Have the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices?
Unit 5: What Rights Does the Bill of Rights Protect?
Unit 6: What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the Twenty-First Century? 

For each unit of competition, the students work in their collaborative units to research and prepare opening remarks to three main questions based on their unit’s theme.  At competition, students will be asked to deliver prepared remarks for one of these questions in a mock Congressional hearing, followed by a question and answer session with a panel of expert judges. No notes are used by the students during the question and answer segment. The contest is attended by state supreme court justices, law students, history professors, and state and district judges from all 50 states.

There are 27 students in the We the People class taught at HHS and 25 of them were able to attend and participate in the national contest. The students that made our town proud are:
Jacob An, Anna Carter, Michael Daly, Owen Downard, Ben Emery, Molly Fernandez, Etana Garfinkle Plymesser, Malorie Hegge, Oscar Heithaus, Lexi Herman, Maria Hockney, Maddie Huber, Jack Jager, Kaiya Linkugel, Jeremy Marquardt, Brett Marzano, Geoffrey Mearns, Molly Mearns, Ryan Milard, Jasper Noble, Mariah Nurre, Kaitlyn Root, Nathan Schimpf, Sam Steiden, Allie Stevens, Ellie Van Curen, and Yovani Velasquez.

Brian Robinson, principal at Highland High School, said, “This is an amazing team with a fantastic teacher.  The work our students do to prepare for this competition means so much for them in their college preparation but even more for their preparation as citizens.  I have been proud to be associated with them.”

For more information about the We the People program and contest, go to:

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