Friday, March 5, 2010

Marshwood High Students Win Statewide U.S. Constitution Competition

On April 23, students from Marshwood High School will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will represent Maine in the national finals of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. About 1,200 high school students from all fifty states and Saipan will participate in the highly prestigious academic competition on the U.S. Constitution.
The Marshwood students have studied for months to prepare for their role as experts testifying on constitutional issues in a simulated congressional hearing. To represent Maine at the national finals, the class won the state competition held in Portland on Feb. 5.
“It is a tremendous honor to represent Marshwood and the state of Maine at the National Finals, ” said Matt Sanzone, a social studies teacher who led the class to the championship. “This group of students is incredibly talented and motivated. Their performance at the state championship was exceptional.”
The first round of the national finals will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, Virginia, April 24 and 25. Now in its 23rd year, the competition involves entire classes making presentations and answering questions on constitutional topics before a panel of judges recruited from across the country. Constitutional scholars, lawyers, and government leaders, acting as congressional committee members, will judge the students’ performances. The combined scores of the classes during the first two days of hearings will determine the top 10 classes to compete in the championship round Monday, April 26 in congressional hearing rooms in the Senate Dirksen Office Building.
The annual three-day final competition is the culminating activity of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, the most extensive civic education program of its kind in the country. The Marshwood students have been studying We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, developed by the Center for Civic Education. The text provides students with an understanding of the fundamental values and principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. During their stay in Washington, D.C., the students will tour historical sites and have an opportunity to visit Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and District 1 Representative Chellie Pingree.
Students representing Marshwood at the National Finals are: Dennis Ailinger, Elizabeth Barker, Meagan Beckert, Emily Bryant, Natasha Chabot, Emma Collins, Isabella Connelly, Rob Harper, Kelsey Hoyt, Tim Jefferson, Coby Jones, Steve Lachance, Caroline Muise, Tucker Nixon, Tad Olsen and Hannah Perry.
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Education for Democracy Act approved by the United States Congress. The program is directed by the Center for Civic Education in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Nationwide, the program is implemented at the upper elementary, middle, and high school levels and has reached more than 30 million students and 81,000 teachers during its 22-year history. A 2006–2007 independent study examined the effects of the We the People program on civic knowledge, skills, and attitudes, evaluating We the People participants and a matched comparison group of high school government students. We the People students scored 30 percent higher than their peers on a comprehensive test that measured understanding of core values and principles of democracy, constitutional limits on governmental institutions, and rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
“Our big challenge now is fundraising. Each student needs to raise approximately $600 to help pay for the travel and lodging expenses. We are hoping that the community will be supportive and help finance the trip,” said Sanzone. Anyone interested in helping can contact Matt Sanzone at Marshwood High School at (207) 384–4500.
Photo caption: Marshwood High students will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in a national competition on the U.S. Constitution. (Courtesy photo)