On Friday, January 10 high schools from across Michigan participated the We the People Constitution Hearings hosted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education. We the People engages students in simulated congressional hearings to present their researched testimony and answer questions about historical, political, and Constitutional issues. Students become Constitutional generalists and specialists in one of six units of in-depth study. The primary purpose of the We the People curriculum and hearings is to engage classes of students in meaningful dialogue about our Constitution and current events.
Students articulate their researched views on a variety of issues ranging from historical and philosophical roots of the Constitution, to Constitutional questions facing our country today, and thoughts about our civic future.
The panels were juried by experts from a range of fields including professors, lawyers, judges, policy-makers, and more. Educators and additional volunteers across the state served as facilitators and additional volunteers.
Many schools had also participated in a local district in order to prepare for the MCCE State Showcase and Championship. Additionally, the top finishing school will have the opportunity to represent Team Michigan at a National We The People Conference to be held in Washington, D. C. this April.
Schools competing at the state finals included: Black River, Teacher: Alex Constantelos; César Chávez, Teacher: Cortney Kosmala-Jackson; East Grand Rapids, Teacher: Adam Horos; East Kentwood, Teacher: Justin Robbins; Howell, Teacher Kristie Shantry; Marian, Teacher: Tim Wallace & Chad Stevens; Marquette, Teacher: Fred Cole; Mason, Teacher: Linda Pierce; and Richmond, Teacher: Dr. Mark Ladd. Additional schools competing at a district competition included River Rouge High School, Teacher: Ms. Kelly Young-Raymore and Hudsonville High School, Teacher: Mr. Colin Sullivan.
Finishing in first place and representing Team Michigan at the Center for Civic Education’s National Championship is Black River Public Schools, taught by Mr. Alex Constantelos. Michigan is optiminist to send a second school as the Warren E. Burger Class Award representing a school who exemplifies the intellect and spirit of Justice Burger.
The Michigan Center for Civic Education awarded four top mentions to competing teams and a top finish to a showcase team. This is the overall result of the day. They are:
|1st Place||Black River Public Schools||Mr. Alex Constantelos|
|2nd Place||East Kentwood High School||Mr. Justin Robbins|
|3rd Place||East Grand Rapids High School||Mr. Adam Horos|
|Honorable Mention||Marquette Senior High School||Mr. Fred Cole|
|Showcase Champion||Mason High School||Ms. Linda Pierce|
MCCE also awarded top unit finishes to (these were awarded to schools whose units placed top):
|Unit 1: What are the Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System?||Black River Public Schools|
|Unit 2: How Did the Framers Create the Constitution?||East Grand Rapids High School|
|Unit 3: How has the Constitution been Changed to Further the Ideals Contained in the Declaration of Independence?||East Kentwood High School|
|Unit 4: How have the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices?||Marquette Senior High School|
|Unit 5: What Rights does the Bill of Rights Protect?||East Grand Rapids High School|
|Unit 6: What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the Twenty-First Century?||Black River Public Schools|
Addressing the students at the We the People Awards Ceremony include Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack of the Michigan Supreme Court; Interim Dean Melanie Jacobs of the Michigan State University College of Law; Darin Day, Director of Outreach at the State Bar of Michigan; and Ellen Zwarensteyn, Executive Director of the Michigan Center for CIvic Education.
The 2021 We the People State Finals and Showcase is tentatively scheduled for January 8, 2021 in Lansing. For more information on this program, additional MCCE programs including Mock Trial, the 2021 Kalamazoo National High School Mock Trial Championship, Project Citizen, Listening for Civic Understanding, professional learning, and how to get more schools involved, please contact Ellen Zwarensteyn, Executive Director at the Michigan Center for Civic Education, at www.miciviced.org.