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Amador Valley High's 'We the People' team finishes 6th in national finals

Amador among top 10 U.S. high schools in understanding constitutional principles

The "We the People" competition civics team from Amador Valley High School finished sixth in a field of 10 finalists at the 28th Annual We the People national finals in Alexandria, Virginia Monday.

Grant High School from Portland, Oregon, placed first in the competition, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School from Richmond, Va. finished second, with Douglas S. Freeman High School of Henrico, Va. placing third.

The awards ceremony took place at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria.

Conducted by the Center for Civic Education, the competition was held starting last Friday and through the weekend on the campus of George Mason University and in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill. The final presentations were made Monday morning.

Since 1987 over 30,000 students and 1,000 teachers have participated in the national finals. Over the years, more than 10,000 parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors have traveled to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the accomplishments of the students.

In communities across America, nearly 30 million dollars has been donated to ensure the success of the events.

Nearly 1,300 high school students from 44 states and the District of Columbia gathered in Washington, D.C., to participate in the national finals. The initial field of 56 classes was reduced to 10 finalists based on the combined scores of each class over two days of intense examination of their constitutional knowledge. Classes qualified for the national finals by placing first in their state competition or through wildcard availability.

The national finals take the form of simulated congressional hearings. During the finals, groups of students testify as constitutional experts before panels of judges acting as congressional committees, scoring the groups through a performance-based assessment. Each class is divided into six groups based on the six units of the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution high school textbook.

Each hearing begins with a four-minute opening statement by students and is followed by a six minute period of follow-up questioning during which judges probe students' depth of knowledge, understanding, and their ability to apply constitutional principles. The format provides students an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles while providing the 72 judges with an excellent means of assessing students' knowledge and application to historical and current constitutional issues.

Stacey Sklar, who teaches the Amador Valley High School competition class, also was this year's team coach and leader.

Students on the We the People team were: Maryam Awwal, Shriya Bhindwale, Stephen Black, Jesse Cai, Nach Dakwale, Kyra Englert, Megan Gupta, Jerry He, Michael Iglesias, Neel Kant, Rachel Laursen, Amy Le, Nikhil Patil, Shrita Pendekanti, Ria Shroff, Meghna Sinha, Sabari Somanathan, Janani Sundaresan, Branden West, Mei White, Patrick Wu and Akhila Yechuri.

The 2015 We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals was partially funded by teachers, students, parents, and We the People state coordinators to secure community sponsors. Funding was also provided by the Center for Civic Education, state donors, and the Fund for Freedom and Democracy in honor of the Honorable Patricio M. Serna, retired justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court.

More information about the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program is available at http://www.civiced.org/national-finals-2015/

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