Foothill High's We the People team will advance to the national round of the civics competition after being selected as a "wild card" participant.
While Foothill came in second in the state competition, only first-place winners can advance to the state unless they are selected during the "wild card" process. The advancement marks the first time Foothill will compete in We the People's national round, team adviser Jeremy Detamore said.
"This has been a hard working and dedicated group of students from day one and I'm happy that their dedication will be rewarded," he said in an email. "They've really proven themselves as scholars and citizens and I'm glad they get one more chance to display that."
The competition, now in its 29th year, simulates congressional hearings, and students are evaluated based on their performance and knowledge of the Constitution.
To get ready for nationals, which will be held at the University of Maryland from April 22-25, the Foothill team has been "turning it up to 11 very quickly" as soon as they heard about their eligibility last Friday, Detamore said.
"We learned about the wild card spot very late in the game so other teams have a significant jump on us in terms of preparation," he said.
The national high school civics competition reserves 50 seats for state winners. If a U.S. state does not have a qualifying team, and if U.S. territories can't fill the remaining slots, a wild card spot opens up on a rotating basis for states with teams already in the competition. Arizona, Nevada and Idaho were among the states that also received a wild card spot.
Foothill's entry was announced several weeks after the state competition because since California got a wild card slot last year, other states were offered this spot first. Foothill was selected after several states turned down the offer.
Amador Valley High has routinely been the Pleasanton school to represent the city in nationals and has advanced to that competition 14 times in the school's history. This year, Amador Valley earned third place in the state round, behind Foothill and Arcadia High School in Los Angeles County.
The team has launched a donation page to help cover costs associated with the competition.