Amador Valley High School is advancing to the championship round of the 2009 "We the People" national finals today in Washington, D.C., it was announced late yesterday.
The school's Advanced Civics class will be one of 10 teams that will compete for first place in the academic competition, where students demonstrate their constitutional knowledge during simulated congressional hearings. The championship round will take place in congressional hearing rooms on Capitol Hill.
Amador is well known on the "We the People" circuit, having won state championships and competed in the nationals eight times. The school won the national championship in 1995. This year's class is being coached for the first time by civics teachers Keldon Clegg.
About 1,100 high school students from all 50 states and the Northern Mariana Islands have gathered in Washington to participate in the 22nd annual finals of the competition, formally known as the "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution."
The initial field of 51 classes was reduced to 10 finalists based on the combined scores of each class over the past two days of intense examination of their constitutional knowledge.
In the competition, students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge of constitutional issues before simulated congressional committees composed of constitutional scholars, lawyers, journalists, and public officials. Students complete a comprehensive course of study on the Constitution to qualify for the competition and the national finalists have won their congressional district and state-level competitions in order to advance to Washington.
The first, second and third place schools will be announced and awards presented during a banquet at the Omni Shoreham Hotel tonight. Awards will also be given to non-finalist schools that have the highest scores in each of the six tested areas of knowledge and to the school from each of the five geographical regions with the highest overall score.
To commemorate the bicentennial of the 16th president's birth, a special Lincoln Award will be given to the class with the highest score on a question about Abraham Lincoln and his constitutional legacy.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy will receive the 2009 Dale E. Kildee Civitas Award for his contributions to civic education.
More than 30 million elementary, middle, and high school students have participated in the "We the People" program since its inception in 1987. Developed and administered by the Los Angeles-based Center for Civic Education, the program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Education for Democracy Act approved by Congress.
Besides Amador, the nine other finalists competing tomorrow are Vestavia Hills High School, Vestavia Hills, Ala.; Greenwich High School, Greenwich, Conn.; Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Miami, Fl.; East Grand Rapids High School, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Grant High School, Portland, Ore.; East High School, Denver, Colo.; Hamilton Southeastern High School, Fishers, Ind.; East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, N.J., and Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies, Richmond, Va.