Wednesday, May 01, 2002
Contestants and the Constitution
Highlands team seeks U.S. crown
By Earnest Winston, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FORT THOMAS At the beginning, most of the American studies students at Highlands High School believed the Constitution had little impact on their lives.
That was before last fall, when 21 juniors began studying for a statewide competition testing knowledge of the historic document. On Friday, the class will travel to Washington to compete in the national finals of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, after winning the state competition in February.
Brian Robinson and Lisa Birkley teach the Highlands class that will travel to Washington this week for a competition that will test their knowledge of the Constitution.|
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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Before we studied, I had no idea how complex the Constitution was and how important it is to our government. I realize now how the Constitution plays into our everyday lives, says 16-year-old Lexie Dressman. I also think that because of September 11, it was very important for us to know about our government.
So, no longer are the Bill of Rights or the Electoral College foreign terms to the students. They've also learned about checks and balances and how the Constitution spells out freedoms and liberties for citizens.
The class is taught by social studies teacher Brian Robinson and English teacher Lisa Birkley. The students have spent several hours a week preparing to testify in a simulated congressional hearing. Ms. Birkley said the students realize what it means to be an American and how we remain civil even under the worst circumstances because we have a set of laws and rules that we follow. ... They understand the Constitution and how it works probably better than most adults.
Brian Healy, 17, said the students and teachers have worked hard preparing for the competition, an experience he called pretty exciting.
Just being able to discuss it and have a grasp of it has been extremely beneficial, he said.
We the People is sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, a California-based nonprofit organization. More than 1,250 high schools students will compete this weekend in the 15th annual academic competition, with the top 10 classes squaring off Mondayfor the top prize. Each class will be divided into six groups, making presentations and answering questions.
It's teaching them not what to think, but how to think. said Tam Taylor, spokeswoman for the Center for Civic Education.
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