Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) congratulated Amador Valley High School teacher Keldon Clegg and his advanced civics class of seniors who finished third this week among 51 of the country's top high schools in the annual "We the People" competition in Washington, D.C.
McNerney met with the group Tuesday in his office on Capitol Hill.
"I'd like to congratulate the students of Amador Valley High School for taking third place in the national 'We the People" competition,' McNerney said. "Amador students have done a tremendous job representing their school and our region. I am incredibly proud of their hard work and join the entire community in congratulating them on this achievement."
Amador Valley High School finished third, trailing the first place winner East High School of Denver and runner-up Vestavia Hills (Ala.) High School.
East High also won the special Lincoln Award for having the highest score on questions about President Abraham Lincoln's Constitutional legacy.
The winners were announced at a banquet Monday night at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington.
After three days of simulated congressional hearings, during which students were required to apply constitutional principles and historical facts to contemporary situations, the class from East High School received the most votes of judges in the 22nd annual competition on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The national finals marked the end of months of study and hard-won victories at the congressional district and state levels for more than 1,100 high school students representing 50 states and the Northern Mariana Island.
The announcement of the top three classes as well as the 19 winners in other categories was made at the awards banquet before an audience of 1,500 students, teachers, coordinators, judges and other program participants. The winning class from Colorado was presented with an engraved plaque of the Constitution and each student received a gold medallion.
Vestavia Hills and Amador Valley classes were presented with plaques of the Bill of Rights and students were awarded medals, silver for the Alabama students and bronze for the Dons. The fourth- through 10th-place classes received engraved plaques.
Awards were also presented to the class with the highest non-finalist score in each of the six units of the text and in each of five geographic regions in the country. Certificates of appreciation were presented to each of the teachers of the 51 classes for their accomplishments in engaging their students in the study of the Constitution.
The first rounds of the competition took place over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday.
Tam Taylor snd Karen Whitaker, "We the People" program coordinators, said that the top 10 schools met on Capitol Hill yesterday where students demonstrated their knowledge of the Constitution before simulated congressional committees made up of constitutional scholars, lawyers, journalists and public officials.
The panel of judges tested the expertise of the teams on the six units of the "We the People: The
Citizen & the Constitution" text:
• What are the philosophical and historical foundations of the American political system?
• How did the framers create the Constitution?
• How has the Constitution been changed to further the ideals contained in the Declaration of Independence?
• How did the values and principles embodied in the Constitution shape American institutions and practices?
• What rights does the Bill of Rights protect?
• What challenges might face American constitutional democracy in the 21st century?
The "We the People" program provides an intensive curriculum that offers students comprehensive instruction on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the principles and values they embody. The program is designed to promote an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizens in our constitutional democracy.
When combined with the companion noncompetitive elementary and middle school programs, more than 30 million students have participated in the program during the past 22 years. 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 East High, Vestavia Hills and Amador, the other high schools in the top 10 are:
Greenwich High School, Greenwich, Conn.
Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Miami, Fl.
Hamilton Southeastern High School, Fishers, Ind.
East Grand Rapids High School, Grand Rapids, Mich.
East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, N.J.
Grant High School, Portland, Ore.
Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International
Studies, Richmond, Va.
Amador has now represented California in the "We the People" nationals eight times. The school won the national championship in 1995.
The Dons had hoped to take the top position after months of after-school and late night preparations under Keldon Clegg's guidance, who was teaching the special class and coaching the "We the People" team for the first time.