|Board member John Weyer presents a check to teacher Megan Boimann-Hennies for the We the People team trip to the national competition.|
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is an annual national competition for high school students. The competition promotes civic education with an emphasis on knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Competing on civic knowledge
Teacher and team advisor Megan Boimann-Hennies explained how the competition works. "We as a team work to analyze the Constitution. We look to apply it in historical situations and contemporary situations and then provide solutions for contemporary Constitutional problems. The students work together to create opening statements, and then they become experts in their particular subject areas."
The students’ work is judged by attorneys, federal prosecutors, state supreme court justices and other legal experts as well as law, history and political science professors from some of the top universities in the country, she said.
At the national finals, student teams participate in a simulated congressional hearing covering different aspects of the Constitution. Students are divided into six units, each focusing on specific topics. They are judged on their understanding, reasoning, responsiveness and use of constitutional applications.
Support for the team
Twenty-one seniors participate on the Highlands We the People team. The students were honored at the February Fort Thomas Independent School Board meeting with certificates of achievement and school "Champion" tshirts.
The board also presented the group with a check for $10,000 to help defray some of the travel costs.
"We have such high expectations for our kids on the state level and then we get them to the national level, and now we have a financial burden," board member John Weyer explained. He said students and their families are required to raise their own funds for the national trip, and recognizing that, the board wanted to help support the students in this effort.
Boimann-Hennies said, while some students on the team plan to study law, history and political science, others do not. "The really foundational importance of the program is building good citizens…regardless of what they end up doing they will be civic leaders in some way."
Since the inception of the We the People program in 1987, more than 28 million students and 90 thousand educators have participated and more than 30,000 students have made it to the national finals, according to by the Center for Civic Education that sponsors of the event.
The national competition will be held April 27 through May 1 at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia.