An old-fashioned Pleasanton rivalry will play out on a national stage when students from Amador Valley and Foothill high schools head to Washington, D.C. in April for the We the People national finals.
The long-running civics competition pits students’ knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and American government against each other in mock congressional hearings, testing their critical-thinking skills during the process as well.
Both schools finished strong at the state competition on Feb. 2 in Sacramento, where Amador Valley won and Foothill team placed second. The victory automatically qualified Amador for nationals while second-place Foothill was selected as the wild-card team to advance to D.C.
“This year’s Amador team worked so hard and so well together -- I am glad that they will have the opportunity to compete at a national level. Their performance this weekend was excellent,” Stacey Sklar, Amador's competitive civics coach, said in a statement.
The neck and neck finish mirrored last year’s state competition, when Amador won and Foothill earned a wild-card entry into nationals -- the first time both Pleasanton teams qualified for D.C. in the same year. At nationals last year, Foothill finished in second place and Amador took fourth among 52 teams and more than 1,100 students.
This will be Amador’s 17th time going to nationals, and the third consecutive trip for Foothill.
Speaking on behalf of himself and the Board of Trustees, Pleasanton Unified School District Superintendent David Haglund congratulated both teams on their “incredible efforts.”
“I am incredibly proud of our young people, and their teachers and coaches, and wish them great success as they move on,” Haglund said in a statement.
Students spend “thousands of hours preparing and rehearsing” for the nationals, according to district officials, and try out each year for the teams, which are open only to seniors. Being selected means undergoing an intense year-long program where team members are placed in one of six units to take a deep dive into different constitutional topics, like the historical and theoretical roots of America’s political system.
During competition, students are judged on their Constitutional knowledge and understanding of American government, as well as their ability to support arguments with relevant facts and evidence. The simulated congressional hearings require team members to apply their proficiency to both historical and modern-day matters.
There might even be a chance to see the teams in action at some prep events leading up to the nationals.
“I hope people will have the opportunity to come out sometime this spring to see these teams at their fundraisers and dress rehearsals,” Sklar said. “They have such a depth of knowledge about the Constitution that it infuses one with hope for the future.”
Teacher Jeremy Detamore, one of two instructors who helped lead Foothill’s team to nationals again this year, said he is “extremely proud of this year’s class.”
“I look forward to the next phase of this journey,” Detamore said in a statement. “I know they're going to make Pleasanton proud.”
The We the People national finals will be held on April 26-29 in Washington, D.C.