A group of St. Charles High School students will compete at the state “We the People” event next month after earning first place in the Charles County competition held yesterday at the school. The competition tests student knowledge about the United States constitutional principles through simulated mock congressional hearings. This is the first year a local competition has been hosted by Charles County Public Schools (CCPS).
As first-place winners, the St. Charles students will compete at the state event planned for Jan. 5 at the Carver Center in Gambrills, Md. The competition is divided into rounds, and teams of up to five students compete in each round. Students act as constitutional experts and testify in a timed presentation before a panel of judges. Following their presentation, teams then participate in a question and answer session with the judges.
The format of the competition provides students with opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles. Student teams from Henry E. Lackey, St. Charles, Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools competed in the event. Each school had about six teams that testified on a topic before the panel of judges. To determine the first-place winner, scores from each school’s teams were combined into an overall school score, and the school with the highest overall score qualified for the state competition.
Students on the St. Charles team include freshmen Tahmyah Beaty-Brown, Camden Burroughs, Tyron Rex-Campbell, Morgan Curtis, Konner Foster, Jalen Freeman, Austin Gosford, Richard Hersey, Michael Krawczyk, Ethan Lord, Rikayla Mitchell, Kush Patel, Kyle Reigel, Courtney Smith, Tiffany Solis, Madison Staples, Tyler Story, Jala Walker, Faith Washington and Savannah Wood; sophomores Jeet Patel and Jasmine Mann; juniors Shaniquwa Jackson and Tamia Kit; and seniors Derrick Carter and Cameron Sullivan. Sponsor of the team is Michael Colatruglio, a social studies teacher at St. Charles.
Topics included in the competition covered how the Constitution was created, rights protected under the Bill of Rights and challenges the American constitutional democracy faces in the 21st century. The panel of judges – which includes social studies educators, legislators and staff from the Center for Civic Education – talked with teams about topics such as the differences between the U.S. government and Parliament, advantages and disadvantages about having national and state levels of government and about constitutional amendments.
To prepare for the competition, students learned about the We the People curriculum in their government classes. Teachers at these high schools participated in a training over the summer at Montpelier for the James Madison Legacy Project, sponsored by the Center for Civic Education. The project is a three-year nationwide initiative designed to expand civics education with an emphasis on digital content. As part of their training, the teachers received resources to teach the We the People curriculum in their classes.
Finalists at the state event advance to the national competition scheduled for April 21-24 at the National Conference Center in Washington, D.C. Visit http://www.civiced.org/programs/wtp to learn more about the competition.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.