They are Constitutional scholars of sorts. Never mind the fact that they haven’t graduated from high school yet and many aren’t old enough to vote (a right extended to 18- to 21-year-olds in 1971 by the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution).
Sixteen Grandview High School students demonstrated their impressive knowledge of the Constitution, its historic application and its relevancy to 21st-century America, during the “We The People” State Finals, held Dec. 15 at the Colorado State Capitol.
“We The People” is a program for students who are taking U.S. Government or A.P. U.S. Government and Politics. It promotes students’ civic competence by enhancing their understanding of democratic principles and institutions. The program concludes with a simulated congressional hearing in which the students, working in cooperative teams, respond to open-ended questions about the history and relevance of the Constitution today. Students interact with and are judged by local government officials, scholars and lawyers. Judges for the state competition included college professors, judges from the Colorado Supreme Court and Colorado Court of Appeals and other experts in law and education.
The Grandview team had hoped to win first place and a trip to the “We The People” National Finals in April in Washington D.C., but placed second behind powerhouse East High School, which has won the competition 26 times. (Last year, a Grandview team beat the East team, advanced to the national finals and earned an impressive seventh-place finish.)
Still, the Grandview team – all students in Jeff Reiman’s period 3A A.P. U.S. Government and Politics class – were proud of their performance and each other and feel the experience was extremely valuable.
“It was amazing what we learned; the ability to research, the ability to question information,” said junior Camilla Hallin.
“You learn to work with people, exploit their talents and build off of each other,” said senior Aaron Aboaf. “We have a bond that’s been created through 10 to 12 weeks of hard work.”
Participating in “We The People” also taught the students just how important the U.S. Constitution is and they want to encourage all Americans to learn more about it.
“I think they should make an effort to understand what our government is based on – the foundational framework,” said Aboaf. “It has endured for 225 years. That’s why we worked so hard to learn about the Constitution, to defend it and to apply it.”
In Colorado, “We The People” is sponsored by the Center for Education in Law and Democracy and conducted nationally by the Center for Civic Education. To learn more visit http://www.lawanddemocracy.org/wtpnew.htm or http://new.civiced.org/we-the-people-national-finals.