Amador Valley High wins state 'We the People' competition
Fundraising starts to send team to national finals in April
Amador Valley High School captured first place in the "We the People" state finals last Saturday in Bakersfield, topping 10 other teams from California high schools, including Foothill High and Irvington High in Fremont.
Amador will now move on to represent California in the 26th annual "We the People" national finals to be held April 27-29. That competition will be conducted on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax County, Va., and in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill.
Members of the "We the People" team, their coaches, school leaders and community and parent supporters are now launching a fund-raising campaign to raise the $35,000 it will cost to go to Washington, D.C., for the national competition.
"We are totally self-funding and don't receive any money from the school or district to cover any of the costs," said Brian Ladd, a teacher at Amador Valley who is one of two coaches serving the team. "We can't fundraise all year because we don't know if we will make it to nationals since California is the most competitive state. We need to raise the money by the first of April."
Anyone interested in donating and helping the students can send a tax deductible donation to Amador Valley Comp Civics, 1155 Santa Rita Road, Pleasanton 94566.
Coaching the Amador "We the People" team with Ladd is Mairi Wohlgemuth. Both are social studies and civics teachers at the high school. Jeremy Detamore coached the team from Foothill, where he is a world history and economics teacher. Pleasanton City Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio coached the team from Irvington High, where she teaches U.S. government and honors economics.
With Saturday's win, Amador Valley has made it to the national finals 12 times, coming in second in 2004, 2007 and 2011 and winning the national title in 1995. Foothill has made the state finals on a regular basis but has yet to make it to the national competition.
"This is the toughest academic competition in the country and we are proud to be representing not only our state, but our school and the city of Pleasanton," Ladd said. "The team is all comprised of seniors who started from scratch at the beginning of the school year. They have won every level of competition -- the Congressional district, Northern California regional, and the state championship. They put in an extra 12-15 hours per week on average outside of class time towards the program."
The students on the Amador team are Dena Behnam, Grant Bonham, Sara Borchers, Grant Cohen, Courtney Dickson, Will Dormann, Teresa Duddy, Blair Guilfoile, Mekhala Hoskote, Shubhankar Kapoor, Bobby Lee, Mitchell Mayo, Sabrina McGraw, Adriana Morton, Sri Muppidi, Jordan Nally, Jon Nieman, Alexis Orozco, Dhiraj Pangal, Henry Person, Jena Pianin, Nick Powell, Anika Riley, Adit Sinha, Arany Uthayakumar, Eric Yang, Yves Yang, Kashyap Yechuri and Ke Zhao.
Saturday's competition was held at Golden Valley High School in Bakersfield. More than 300 students from 11 high schools participated in the academic competition, which tested their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
At Bakersfield, students demonstrated their understanding of the Constitution before a simulated congressional committee consisting of constitutional scholars, lawyers, civic educators and government leaders who judged the classes' performances. The judges tested the students' comprehension of the six units of the "We the People" text.
All of the participating schools, their students and teachers were recognized for their achievements during an awards ceremony Saturday afternoon at Golden Valley High.
Officially called "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution," the program has reached more than 30 million students and 90,000 teachers since its inception in 1987.