We the People hits the road; schools crowded with weekend events
Music, science and basketball fundraisers all compete for attention
It's a busy weekend for students at both Pleasanton high schools, with top tier teams headed out today to Bakersfield for the state Competition Civics finals, also known as We the People.
In that competition, students will demonstrate their knowledge of the Constitution before a simulated congressional committee.
Amador Valley has made the national level 10 times, coming in second in 2011 and winning the national title in 1995. That school is sending 29 students to compete at Golden Valley High School.
Foothill has made the state finals on a regular basis, but has yet to make it to the national competition. In 2009, the school lost to Amador by five points.
"California is one of the most competitive states in the nation in terms of We the People. Our top teams are all national level," said Foothill Comp Civics teacher Jeremy Detamore.
Foothill is sending 28 students to the finals.
While they're gone, budding scientists will have the run at Foothill High.
More than 1,800 students, teachers and parents will converge at Foothill High School for the Bay Area Science Olympiad. It's the fifth year in a row that Foothill will be hosting the competition, which has teams competing in 23 different events covering biology, chemistry and physics.
In all, 76 teams from 42 area schools are scheduled to compete, with the students deciding who will compete in which events. They're broken into two-person teams, with some events lasting an hour and others taking all day.
The Olympiad runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an awards ceremony at 4:30. Four events, featuring robot arms, elastic-launched gliders, boom levers and magnetic levitation racetracks, are open to the public.
Students who win move on to the state finals April 13; the state winners will compete against those from other states at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, in May.
Foothill has made the state finals three times in recent years.
Elsewhere at Foothill, in the school's small gym, basketball players will be lining up to sink some baskets and raise some money to help Coach Wardell Collins.
Collins is an assistant varsity basketball coach who suffered from double kidney failure for most of 2012. He received a kidney transplant in December, donated by his aunt, Yolanda Collins. Doctors say it's functioning well.
But getting the kidney surgery was a pricey operation and has left Coach Collins with a significant financial burden.
To help out, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., players will shoot free throws with donors paying for each basket they make, with Straw Hat Pizza serving lunch.
"Wardell is an inspiration to us all, and I really want to make sure that he feels our support through this very difficult time for him," said Foothill Principal John Dwyer.
Cheryl Bates Rhoades was a parent volunteer when her son Jimmy was on the team from 2009 through 2011. She said Wardell gave the players the confidence that they could win against anyone.
"When we didn't win it was a long ride home, but Coach Wardell was always positive," Rhoades said. "I don't think I ever saw him lose his temper at a game, which is quite an achievement if you've ever seen the local basketball games."
Meanwhile, if you're looking for a day of great music, the answer is across town at the 38th annual Campana Jazz Festival.
For $10 ($8 for seniors and students), you can watch a full day of performances by talented musicians, some among the tops in the state.
The day begins at 8 a.m. Saturday with the Amador Jazz B in the theater, and winds up with performances by the day's winning bands at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation of more than $12,000 in summer music camp scholarships.
In addition to great music, gourmet food trucks will stop by from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The daylong festival will feature 38 ensembles from 22 Bay Area schools, including those in Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville.
The festival will be held in three different venues, all at Amador High School, 1155 Santa Rita Road. It's named for Jim Campana, AVHS Music Director from 1959 through 1979; he's expected to attend.