McNerney praises Amador Valley 'We the People' team for competition finish

Civics students trailed only a Virginia high school out of 52 entries in national contest

Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) met with the Amador Valley High School advanced civics team yesterday on the steps of the Capitol to praise the students for their accomplishments in the 2011 "We the People" national competition.

After three days of simulated congressional hearings which tested their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Amador students captured second place at the 24th annual "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" national finals last night in Washington, D.C.

Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies of Richmond, Va., won first place.

During his meeting with the Amador students Tuesday, McNerney told them:

"The 'We the People' competition requires hard work, strong commitment and dedicated study of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Once again, students from our community rose to the challenge and led the way at the nationwide competition.

"I'm delighted to congratulate and honor the 'We the People' team from Amador Valley High School. Our entire community can be proud of their achievement."

It was the tenth time that Amador topped all other California teams in statewide competitions earlier this year and won the honor of representing the state in the national competition. The school fielded teams in the nationals in 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 1995, Amador won the national championship.

We the People civics classes representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands came to the nation's capital to participate in the academic competition.

The competition results were announced at an awards banquet Monday evening before an audience of 1,500 students, teachers, coordinators, judges and other program participants. At the ceremony, the 2011 Dale E. Kildee Civitas Award was presented to U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts for his contributions to the field of civic education.

During the competition, students demonstrated their knowledge of the Constitution before simulated congressional committees made up of state Supreme Court judges, constitutional scholars, lawyers, public officials and We the People alumni. The first rounds of the hearings took place last Saturday, and then continued into Sunday. Today, the top 10 schools competed in actual congressional hearing rooms on Capitol Hill.

The panel of judges tested the expertise of the classes on the six units of the We the People textbook. They are: 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 Have the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices? What Rights Does the Bill of Rights Protect? What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the Twenty-first Century?

Karen Whitaker of the Los Angeles-based Center for Civic Education said that 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.

More than 30 million elementary, middle and high school students have participated in the program since its inception in 1987. Developed and administered by the Los Angeles center, the program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Education for Democracy Act approved by Congress.

This year, the We the People program is being funded by state donors and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation in partnership with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, as well as the Center for Civic Education

Other winners announced Monday night East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, N.J, finishing in third place; Vestavia Hills High School, Vestavia Hills, Ala., fourth place; East Grand Rapids High School, Grand Rapids, Mich., fifth; Denver East High School, Denver, Colo., sixth; Grant High School, Portland, Ore., seventh; Northwest Guilford High School, Greensboro, N.C., eighth; Maine South High School, Park Ridge, Ill., ninth; and Munster High School, Munster, Ind., finishing in tenth place.


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Posted by AvFan
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Congrats to Keldon Clegg and these amazing students. Its awesome that these students can compete at this high level year after year. Many of the other schools competing have a multi-year program culiminating in their senior year; Keldon gets these kids to the same level in one year. He's amazing.

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Posted by Julie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 1, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Julie is a registered user.

Congrats to the team and good luck. Go Dons!

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Posted by Sonja
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 1, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Go Amador!!! Your town is behind you 100%. Best of luck to you. This is truly an honor for Pleasanton and a reward for all your hard work. Congratulations.

Like this comment
Posted by Inspired by Mohatt
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 2, 2011 at 8:56 am

Congratulations to the AVHS team! Especially to your teacher Keledon Clegg! What a historic night to be in DC as well! Please enjoy every second- it will be over before you know it! Amador Comp Civics is a true treasure of Pleasanton.

Let us all remember that this program stretches across all types of students and truly inspires kids to become not just more productive members of society but better people. I definitely was not an A or AP student but I found my voice in this program and through hard work and being pushed beyond what I thought possible (and some tears!) was able to learn more about myself than I ever thought possible. Many don't realize that this program is not just a typical AP type class filled with 4.0+ students- it is carefully composed of students from all walks of life that have different qualities to bring to the table. Each teacher is able to find qualities in students that they themselves didn't know existed when forming the teams and then the teacher is able to draw those qualities to the surface through inspiration and for those of you who knew Skip "constructive" (wink wink) criticism.

As part of the 1994 team lead by Skipp Mohatt we would also be remiss not to recognize the incredible foundational work by both Skipp and Brian Ladd both of whom taught thousands of students in the most inspirational and effective way; by example.

Comp Civics is so much more than a competition and I hope that our collective community continues to honor both the educators who sacrifice literally thousands of hours of unpaid service (just think about that next time you try to knock a teacher) and the students who set aside their insecurities at such a critical time in their adolescent lives to take a risk to push themselves to an entirely new level. One that will allow for tremendous growth and contribution to society.

Civic Virtue is a must, with great opportunity comes great responsibility and this program epitomizes and inspires its students, and the parents and community who support them.

It sure did for this long departed student.

On a last note- outside of my parents Skip Mohatt was the most inspirational and important person in my life and I would imagine many of Brian Ladd and Keledon Clegg's students will say the same if they have not done so already.

Good Luck and GO DONS!!! But remember the students and our society have already won.

We have common threads… Demons to conquer… Angels to treasure. Some along the way will create barriers. Some will open portals.
— Everett (Skip) J. Mohatt in “Beyond Ceilings”

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Posted by Alum Parents
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 2, 2011 at 9:43 am

Congrats to the team, teachers, and other supporters!!!!

Good luck in today's competition.

And you will always remember where you were during this historic event for the USA!

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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on May 2, 2011 at 9:47 am

Way to go! -- Amador Valley High School "Competition Civics Team" -- all of Pleasanton and California are proud of you and are rooting "big time" for you today. I have heard that the government funding for this great competition may go away from this after this year and that would be sad. Hopefully if it does in fact go away maybe Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet or some patriotic successful person from Silicon Valley could step in and provide the funds to keep this wonderful competition going forever.

Like this comment
Posted by Alyssa Hanou, AVHS alumna
a resident of Birdland
on May 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm

As an alumna of the 2009 National 3rd place championship team proudly representing California and AVHS, I can say I'm so proud of AVHS for making it once again to the final round at nationals! The entire program, and especially the last day, is a life changing and emotional time. By this time the final round is over and the team is waiting eagerly for results - as I am from across the country!

The article is great, with one flaw - the We The People program is no longer funded by the U.S. Department of Education, as funding for the Education for Democracy Act was cut in Congress recently. This means the program at the national level will not exist next year, to my profound dismay. At this point options include maintaining it as a state program, and I am reaching out to national and state elected officials to keep civic education a priority. I hope with all my heart this program can by some miracle be reinstated and continue to change the lives of young people across America.

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Posted by Christina M
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on May 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Right on Amador! Good luck and Congratulations for making it that far!

AVHS '96

Like this comment
Posted by Cheryl Cook-Kallio
a resident of Jensen Tract
on May 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Congratulations to the Amador Valley High School We the People team. We are so proud of you! Our future is in good hands!

Like this comment
Posted by Rene Siegel
a resident of Ruby Hill
on May 3, 2011 at 10:37 am

Congratulations to Keldon Clegg, the incredible Comp Civics students and all the supportive teachers and alumni who make Pleasanton and California so proud! As a former Unit 6 mom, I know it takes a huge amount of time, study and practice to even advance to the State level, so to earn a second place in the nation is phenomenal.

Many former Comp Civics students go on to study law in college and use their experience and passion for the Constitution in a variety of careers that enhance our community. PLEASE continue to support this program and bring civic education to thousands of young people who will be the leaders of tomorrow.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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