Northville Montessori Students exhibit Civics Excellence

April 22nd, 2015 by MCCE Admin

Under the guidance of teacher Keith Gall, students from Northville Montessori competed at the Third Annual We the People National Invitational April 17 – 21, 2015 on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.


The National Invitational takes the form of simulated congressional hearing. During the competition, students were put to the test by judges, including constitutional scholars, lawyers, and public officials, who challenged them to apply constitutional principles and historical facts to contemporary situations. The class was divided into six groups based on the six units of the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution middle school textbook.

Northville Montessori was pleased to leave with two Unit Awards—Units One and Four.

The team earned the right to compete at the national level after participating at the Michigan We the People State Finals in January.

While in Washington, D.C., students also had the opportunity to tour our nation’s capital and meet with members of Congress and other important dignitaries.

Registration is now open for the 2015 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament

October 8th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education announces that registration is now open for high schools to register for the 2015 Tournament.

Regional competitions will take place on the following dates:

•February 28, 2015; Washtenaw County Regional
•March 7, 2015; Macomb County Regional and Kent County Regional
•March 14, 2015; Oakland County Regional

The top 10 teams will compete in the State Finals on March 28, 2015, in Lansing.

The state champions will be eligible to compete in the National Mock Trial Championship in Raleigh, North Carolina, May 14-16, 2015.

This year’s case is a civil case– Smith v. Lakeshore Computers– about a high-school student’s right to privacy when using a school-provided laptop computer:

Western High School approached Lakeshore Computers with a proposed plan to provide all Western High students with personal laptop computers. With approval of the PTA and the School Board, the program launched with the 2011-2012 school year. At the beginning of the year, Lakeshore and Western HS held information sessions for students and parents in which they discussed the positive aspects of the new program along with some general rules and insurance guidelines.

Jami Smith, a Western High senior, turned 18 at the beginning of the 2011-2012 year, so when the new laptop program started, s/he signed the applicable contract on his/her own. As the year progressed, Jami and his/her friends became suspicious that the school was spying on them using the laptops’ webcams, so they created a plan to put their suspicions to the test. Their plan worked, and when they discovered that the school, Lakeshore, and CoolTech, Inc. (a Lakeshore subsidiary) had been capturing images from students’ webcams and taking remote screenshots of their laptops, Jami filed his/her lawsuit.

The MHSMTT has been organized and conducted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education since 1982. Teams of 6-10 students present arguments before panels of three judges per courtroom. One judge presides over the trial, while the others serve as the jury.

The Michigan High school Mock Trial Tournament is made possible through support from the State Bar of Michigan, Oakland County Bar Foundation, Litigation Section, State Bar of Michigan, and the Macomb County Bar Foundation.

More information about the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament and how ot register is available here.

A Transformative Experience: Lamphere High School Teacher and Student Attend Constitution Day Celebration in Washington DC

September 29th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

Nichole Bontomasi and Michael Baker, teacher and student at Lamphere High School in Madison Heights, were selected to represent Michigan at the Civic Renewal Network’s Constitution Day Celebration on September 16-17, 2014.

The Michigan Center for Civic Education was asked to recommend a high school teacher who engages students in projects that address a newsworthy civic issue, problem or need; has the potential to influence local or national policymakers; includes a “call to action,”; and demonstrates civic skills, knowledge, and attitudes.

One of the many reasons Bontomasi was selected was because her Current Issues class completes a project based on Project Citizen every year. This year’s project, “No Child Left Behind – Pathways For Us All,” focused on offering a high school graduation track which encourages/allows students to explore trade school as a viable choice to college instead of an act of failure or desperation. This year, Baker was the class spokesperson.

Highlights of the experience included tours of the Capitol, Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, meetings with Civic Renewal Network (CRN) staff and partners, an evening program on the 16th to celebrate the student’s accomplishments and prepare them for their presentations the next day, the Preamble Challenge at the Capitol, a Naturalization Ceremony, and a tour of the Newseum.

A special program for teachers was the roll out of the CRN’s website and a presentation by the Academy of Arts and Sciences on the problem of civic apathy and the need to engage society.

The highlights of the trip were meetings with Senator Carl Levin and Representative Sander Levin where Baker had the opportunity to present his project. “These meetings left us both feeling excited and proud of our government and the process of involvement that we, as citizens have,” said Bontomasi.

“Michael explained (his project) in detail and fielded all of Senator Levin’s questions. I have never seen a person look more proud than Michael did as we exited. As the door shut, he looked at me and beamed.” I said, “You did it.” He looked at me, stood even straighter and said, “I DID IT!”

“I could not, absolutely could NOT be prouder than I was when Michael took a deep breath, said, “OKAY!” and just ran with it,” Bontomasi said.

Constitution Day ended with an evening banquet for the students providing an exciting exchange of the day’s events and the opportunity for reflection. Finally, a debate on the Federalist Papers was the evening’s final presentation with actors representing the founding fathers.

“It was impressive to see teenagers focused on the debates of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson,” said Bontomasi.

According to Bontomasi, Baker knew from class, that he had a voice and he could use it, but this experience showed him the absolute power of his voice. Baker now knows he can exact change in a way he never thought possible before.

“Baker learned that a young man, from Madison Heights, MI., can have a conversation with his representatives in government and be genuinely heard.

“I have taught long enough to know that I have not done anything as meaningful as this. Michael and I are sincerely grateful for the opportunity and wish every teacher and every student could have an experience like this. This was one of those great standout moments in life,” said Bontomasi.

Hillary Baker, East Kentwood High School, receives National Teacher of the Year Award

September 12th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

At its annual meeting in August, the American Lawyers Alliance awarded Hillary Baker with the 2014 High School Teacher of the Year Award.


(pictured–Michael Browning, Hillary Baker, Andrew Merritt)

Baker is a Social Studies Instructor/Academic Instructional Coach at East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Michigan where she is an advisor/coach for the award-winning We the People team.

According to Baker, as a political science graduate from the University of Michigan, she entered the teaching profession with a strong interest in law-related education which she felt was the best way to teach students to think critically, solve problems and to become actively engaged with their local and global communities.

With twenty years of teaching experience, Baker has developed standards-based curriculum and assessment strategies for courses in U.S. History, Criminal Law, Civics and A.P. Government and Politics. In addition to coaching We the People, Baker has been involved in many other law-related civic education programs, including Model United Nations, Teen Court, Close-Up, and Mock Trial.

To keep up to date, Baker has been involved in countless professional development opportunities, including:

•Advanced Law-Related Education graduate coursework at Michigan State University
•Supreme Court Summer Institute cosponsored by Street Law and the Supreme Court Historical Society
•Summer Institute on International Affairs, George Washington University, World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C.
•We the People professional development seminars at Hope College and the University of Michigan
•John Marshall Seminar: The Man and his Judicial Philosophy in Richmond,
•Civitas International Civic Education Exchange Program in Usti nad Labem and Prague, Czech Republic which focused on content and strategies for preparing students for democratic citizenship.

Baker has also shared her expertise at conferences and workshops, including:

•Michigan Council of Teachers on strategies for integrating literature in social studies classrooms.
•Michigan Center for Civic Education annual Educating for Citizenship Conferences on 1) how to prepare students for the Civic persuasive writing assessment on the Michigan social studies assessment.; 2) how to teach the high school Civics content expectations focusing on the role of the United States in the world using the Choices Program.

According to Baker, much of her teaching has been focused on promoting the values and principles of citizenship, and teaching students to think critically about both national and international issues. “At a time when it seems like social science education, and specifically, civic education, has been pushed to the side it is even more necessary than ever before to equip students with the skills and knowledge it takes to be an active citizen”.

For over fifty years the American Lawyers Alliance has been active in its support of public education, citizenship awareness and various service programs. Recognizing the vital role that teachers play in law-related education, the ALA continues to sponsor its annual Teacher of the Year Awards.

Register Now for the Michigan Joint Social Studies Conference

September 10th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education is partnering once again with the Michigan Council for the Social Studies, Michigan Council on Economic Education, and the Michigan Geographic Alliance to present the Joint Social Studies Conference.

The Joint Social Studies Conference will provide:

•A great opportunity for teachers to learn about best practice

•New materials and lessons

•Sessions for elementary, middle school and high school teachers

•Current educational research

•A chance to talk with social studies teachers from around the state

Conference Highlights Include:

•Keynote on Thursday, November 6: Superintendent Flanagan, Michigan Department of Education

•Panel Discussion on Friday, November 7: The Detroit Bankruptcy
Moderated by Nathan Bomey of the Detroit Free Press, panelists include Chief Judge Gerald E. Rosen, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Sonya Mays, (special advisor to emergency manager Kevyn Orr) and Brad Williams, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

•Roundtable Discussions for teachers to make recommendations for revisions of the Michigan Social Studies content expectations. (The Michigan Department of Education is embarking on a one year project to review Michigan Social Studies Grade Level Content Expectations through the lens of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies.The intent is to edit and clarify the existing standards as a basis for revised social studies assessment.The Roundtable discussions will give input to this project.)

When: Thursday, November 6, 1:00-5:00 p.m.; Friday, November 7, 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m
(Exact times are tentative—check back for more details).

Where: Best Western Plus Hotel, 6820 S. Cedar Street, Lansing. Room reservations can be made by contacting the hotel at (517) 694-8123. Mention group code MCSS1114 to receive the reduced rate of $98.50 + taxes

For more information, click here.

CIRCLE Releases Findings from National Survey of Civics and Government Teachers

June 26th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

In 2013, with funding from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, CIRCLE surveyed a national sample of civics and U.S. government teachers which produced the report “All Together Now: Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Engagement.” .

CIRCLE recently released a new fact sheet with detailed data from that national teacher survey, along with key conclusions and recommendations.Some central findings:

•Virtually all teachers believe in the importance of civic education, but disagree on what to prioritize
•Most teachers do not shy away from encouraging discussion of controversial social and political issues
•Civics and government teachers work in complex environments, and often have not had adequate professional development

The survey includes additional data about how teachers approach topics and activities like voting, media literacy, and community service. It also touches on how civics and government teachers incorporated the 2012 election into their courses.

Civics lesson: Sixth-graders want cell phone ban for drivers in Fenton

June 13th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

By Eric Dresden |

A group of elementary students wants their city to ban people from using their cellphones while they drive in Fenton.

Ten students from St. John the Evangelist Catholic School this week appealed to the Fenton City Council to put tighter restrictions on cellphone use in cars.

After spending much of the school year on the project, the students presented a 10-slide presentation to the Fenton City Council on Monday, June 9, detailing information they had found from a survey of their own classmates.

The students found and a student survey found that 92 percent of the students at the school have seen their parents text or call while driving and 87 percent thought there should be a law prohibiting cell phone use while driving.

“Those are some pretty staggering numbers,” Councilman Scott Grossmeyer said. “I hope even if this doesn’t affect your parents, it will affect your actions in the future.”

City Manager Lynn Markland said the students did a great job presenting the facts they gathered but said he’s concerned it wouldn’t work on the city level because motorists might not even know the ordinance is in place when they drive through the city.

“If something like that is to work, I think it would have to be taken up by the state government,” he said. “I don’t think the council will take it up.”

In Troy, police can pull over drivers for any distracted driving, including cell phone use by the driver but Markland said even then he’s not sure Fenton would benefit from that type of ordinance.

Markland said he’s seen studies that show that use of Bluetooth technology in cars can be just as distracting as a phone call and said he’s uncertain if banning phone use would be a good end-all for distracted driving.

In 2010, Michigan enacted a ban on texting while driving, although Fenton Police Chief Rick Aro said that’s been tough to enforce.

In fact, Fenton police haven’t issued one ticket since the ban began.

“It’s pretty difficult to prove,” he said, adding that he could only see use of it during a serious accident, where police might get a search warrant for their phone.

The students’ social studies teacher, Winston Stoody, said they worked on the report as a part of Project Citizen, which is a national program that promotes, “competent and responsible participation in local and state government.”

He’s had many classes of students work on different projects through Project Citizen but said often it focuses on too large of a scale.

“Of all the presentations we’ve made, this one had the best chance,” he said.

Although Markland seemed uncertain if the council would consider it, Stoody said he hopes the students continue to attend meetings in the summer and push for what they believe in.

After the presentation, the students said they were proud of their work and think they left the council impressed.

“They were impressed that people our age were involved with society,” Bryce Murray, 12, said.

Although they are unsure if it will lead to any local changes, they were happy to bring their findings to the city.

“We knew we worked hard and it paid off,” Daniella Lahoud, 11, said.

The Flint Journal

‘We the People’ team finishes sixth in the nation

April 29th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

The East Grand Rapids High School “We the People” team placed sixth in the nation. The competition ended April 28.


They traveled to Washington D.C. after being named state champions and conducting months of fundraising to make the trip.

Competing against 48 other state championship teams, the East Grand Rapids team members stood out to the panel of judges that included assistant judges of the Supreme Court, political science professors, and a prosecuting attorney from the U.S. Army.

© 2014 All rights reserved.

By Jan Holst |

Ann Arbor Community High School edges out Grand Blanc High School for Michigan Mock Trial Championship

March 31st, 2014 by MCCE Admin

In a hard-fought competition, Ann Arbor Community High School defeated Grand Blanc High School to win the 31st annual Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament State Championship.


The Mock Trial State Finals were held on Saturday, March 29, at Veteran’s Courthouse in Lansing. The 10 team teams competing at the State Finals advanced from one of four regional tournaments held in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Mt. Clemens, and Pontiac.

Tournament Results:
State Champions: Ann Arbor Community High School
Second Place: Grand Blanc High School
Third Place: Yale High School
Fourth Place: Forest Hills Northern High School

Also competing at the State Finals were:
Ann Arbor Community High School (Team B)
Capac High School
Grosse Pointe South High School
St. Clair High School
University of Detroit Jesuit High School
Ypsilanti Community High School

By virtue of their victory, Ann Arbor Community High school, coached by Chloe Root, gets the privilege of representing Michigan at the National Mock Trial Championship in Madison, Wisconsin from May 8-10. The Grand Blanc High School team was coached by Michael Paris.

Ann Arbor Community Team Members:
Avery Farmer
Graehm Patrell-Fazio
Christina Chang
Eve Kausch
Gabe Schat
Liam Sullivan
Lynus Zullo
Preston Horvath
Leon Pescador
Nathaniel Porter

Grand Blanc High School Team Members
Kyle Hammond
Dillyn Foy
Dalia Karrar
Caitlyn Buell
Jonathan Kocks
Luke Mantos
Jewel Hohman
Arshi Baig


Also pictured–State Final Round Judges:

Judge Annette Jurkiewicz Berry, 3rd Circuit Court
Brian Einhorn, Collins, Einhorn, and Farell; President, State Bar of Michigan
Steve Fox, Steve Fox & Associates, Chair, State Bar of MichiganLitigation Section.

The Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament is conducted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education. MCCE thanks the many lawyers and legal professionals who volunteered as team coaches and Tournament judges and Court Officers. MCCE also thanks the Litigation Section, State Bar of Michigan; Oakland County Bar Foundation, and the State Bar of Michigan for their funding support.

Photos Courtesy of Tammy Allen for the State Bar of Michigan.

Grand Blanc mock trial team seeks verdict of best in state

March 25th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

The cases aren’t real but a group of Grand Blanc students is putting their legal minds tothe ultimate test. Grand Blanc High school’s mock trial team will be in a state tournament Saturday, March 29, competing against other nine other schools in mock trials where the teams represent either the prosecuting or defense teams, and serve as attorneys and witnesses.

David Roth, a team coach and law clerk in the city of Flint attorney’s office, said the eight students on the Grand Blanc team have a lot of potential in terms of a future in the legal profession.

“They’ve got really good at learning the rules and applying them to the case so they can engage in arguments in front of real lawyers and judges,” said Roth.

As part of the competition, all high school mock trial teams are given the same case – this year a criminal case – and the teams must familiarize themselves with the case materials.
Coach Michael Paris said the students are “amazingly dedicated” and have been putting in a lot of time since November learning the content – which is over 100 pages.

“They really know the case materials very well,” he said.

The eight students that make up the team are seniors Kyle Hammond, Caitlyn Buell, Dillyn Foy, Luke Mantos and Jewel Hohman, and sophomores Arshi Baig, Jonathan Kocks and Dalia Karrar.

“We’ve definitely been working towards this, but it came as a huge surprise” said Buell about the success of the team.

Buell had previously played the role of witness when she joined the mock trial team her freshman and sophomore years. This year she has two roles, defense lawyer and prosecution witness.

Buell said she doesn’t plan to go into the legal field, but said she appreciates the skills she’s learned while on the team – citing public speaking, acting, more understanding of the legal system and the intellectual side of forming arguments and thinking on her feet – opportunities, she said that she doesn’t always get in the classroom or other after-school activities.

Roth said the students are intelligent and hardworking – fitting time to study in among their other school and after-school activities.

“I’m really impressed by the dedication that high school kids can have for something like this. The amount of time and how well they can grasp difficult concepts,” Roth said.

The team will next compete in the state tournament on March 29, in Lansing at the Veteran Memorial Courthouse. Grand Blanc is the only Genesee County team competing in the state tournament.

By Dana DeFever |

For article with photos–

Ten Teams Advance to Michigan High School Mock Trial State Finals

March 16th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

The 31st annual Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament will be held Saturday, March29 at Veteran’s Courthouse in Lansing. The MHSMTT is administered by the Michigan Center for Civic Education.

Advancing Teams from the Regional Tournaments are:

Macomb County Regional: Saturday, March 1, 2014
Capac High School
Grosse Pointe South High School

Ann Arbor Regional: Saturday, March 8, 2014
Ann Arbor Community High School (Team A)
Ann Arbor Community High School (Team B)
Ypsilanti High School

Grand Rapids Regional: Saturday, March 8, 2014
Forest Hills Northern High School

Oakland County Regional:
Grand Blanc High School
St. Clair High School
Yale High School
University of Detroit Jesuit High School

The following teams were awarded Honorable Mention:

Anchor Bay High School
Clarkston High School (Team A)
Cousino High School
Kalamazoo Central High School
Pinckney High School
Pinconning High School
Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (Team A)
St. Mary Catholic Central High School (Team A)
St. Mary Catholic Central High School (Team B)

The Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament would not be possible without the financial support of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Michigan, the Oakland County Bar Foundation, the State Bar of Michigan, and MCCE members. MCCE also thanks the judges, lawyers, legal assistants, law students and others who volunteer to make the tournaments a positive experience for students throughout Michigan. This program would not be possible without the teachers who choose to bring Mock Trial to their schools. Without their efforts, students would not be able to experience this rewarding, rigorous, program.

Exploring Careers in the Law–Summer Program for High School Students–Now Accepting Applications

March 14th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

Each summer, the Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center offers a dynamic program that illustrates the work of state courts. Participants examine how appellate courts work by arguing a case as if before the Supreme Court.

The program is for students entering 10th-12th grade (Fall 2014) and 2014 graduates. This year’s program will be held July 21-25 from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. daily.

The moot court case will examine whether police may conduct the warrantless search of a cell phone at the time of arrest. Participants will discuss what protections the Fourth Amendment to the U.S.Constitution offers and what rules should apply to 21st-century technology.

Applications and additional information are available at

Students are encouraged to apply early as registration is limited, and the program fills quickly. Applications
are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration deadline is May 30, 2014

Call 517-373-5027 or email for additionalinformation.

Macomb County court to stage mock trial regional tourney

February 24th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

The Macomb County courthouse in Mount Clemens for the first time Saturday will play host to a regional round of the annual state High School Mock Trial Tournament.

A dozen teams from six schools in Macomb, two in St. Clair County and one in Wayne County will compete to earn the right to be one of the two teams to advance to the March 29 state finals in Lansing. Sponsored by the Michigan Center for Civic Education since 1982, the competition is designed to expose young people to the justice system and legal process and develop their skills and knowledge.

Macomb officials took the initiative to bring the regional event to their circuit court.

“It is truly a story of collaboration to benefit youth,” said Rick Troy, executive director of the Macomb County Bar Association. “Spearheaded by Warren District Court Judge Matthew Sabaugh and driven by the Macomb County Bar Foundation, the tournament quickly found a partner in Macomb County Circuit Court’s Chief Judge John Foster that helped make the use of the circuit court a reality.”

Troy also credited Foundation President Lori Finazzo, tournament Director Jeff May and Co-Director Renee Tegel for their efforts.

Each team is guided by their teachers and volunteer attorneys, who spend months working with the youths.

“Every mock trial team has a unique story (of) how it came together with their volunteer teachers and attorneys working together to help students learn the lessons that law-related education provides,” Troy said.

The competition will be held on the courthouse’s third and fourth floors

The case to be on display involves a fictional murder of a high school student related to a fictional school’s prom.

Regional teams include Anchor Bay (which is located in St. Clair County but draws most of its enrollment from Macomb County), De La Salle Collegiate in Warren, Lake Shore in St. Clair Shores, Lakeview in St. Clair Shores, Cousino in Warren, Lutheran North in Macomb Township and Richmond High School from Macomb County as well as St. Clair County’s Capac High School and Grosse Pointe South High School from Wayne County.

Regional rounds also will be held March 8 in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, and March 15 in Pontiac in Oakland County.

By Macomb Daily staff

East Grand Rapids High School Reclaims Michigan We the People Crown

January 12th, 2014 by MCCE Admin

East Grand Rapids High School, led by teacher Janice Yates, took first place at the We the People State Finals held January 10 at the Michigan Capitol Complex in Lansing.

East Kentwood High School finished second and Marquette High School finished third. Howell High School and Mason High School took Honourable Mention.

Every year, volunteers dedicate their time to evaluate the students’ performance during the simulated congressional hearings. One judge said, “To see and interact with all those eager, well-prepared students and their teachers and parents and friends is just a gift.” The event would not have been possible without the over fifty volunteers who spent the day with the students.

With their first-place finish, East Grand Rapids qualifies to compete against other states in the We the People National finals, held in Washington, D.C., and at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, April 26-28.

Other participating schools included Cesar Chavez Academy High School, Detroit; Hudsonville High School; Marian High School (two teams), Bloomfield Hills; The Potter’s House, Grand Rapids; and Richmond High School.

Senator Stabenow Talks Civics At Bloomfield Hills Middle School

November 26th, 2013 by MCCE Admin

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow encouraged students in Bloomfield Hills Monday to learn about their communities and get involved in causes they believe in if they want to make positive changes.

Recounting how she started her political career helping fight the closure of a home for seniors while attending Michigan State University, the long-time Democrat senator said learning what issues they care about is the place to start.

“Go out and learn and listen to things about what you’re interested in doing and put together your ideas,” she told fifth graders at Bloomfield Hills Middle School during a special assembly. “Think about what you’d like to change in the community.”

Principal Randy English read off several questions prepared beforehand by students, which Stabenow answered candidly for about 45 minutes.

Stabenow also spoke to a capacity-filled room at the Doyle Center earlier Monday with the Women Officials Network.

Art Aisner (Editor) Bloomfield-Bloomfield Hills Patch

Sign up to be a Mock Trial Judge or Court Officer NOW!

November 14th, 2013 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education is seeking volunteers to serve as Judges and Court Officers for the 2014 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament.

The Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament involves teams of high-school students taking on the roles of attorneys and witnesses competing against other schools in courtrooms across the state, in front of real judges and lawyers, under the supervision of their teachers and attorney coaches.

This year’s case is People v. Sam Seaside, a criminal case of a high-school student accused of the murder of a fellow classmate and love interest who went missing after a late-night party.

The competition dates are as follows:

> Macomb County Regional (NEW THIS YEAR!!!): Saturday, March 1, 2014
> Grand Rapids Regional: Saturday, March 8, 2014
> Ann Arbor Regional: Saturday, March 8, 2014
> Pontiac Regional: Saturday, March 15, 2014
> Lansing State Finals: Saturday, March 29, 2014 (Experienced Judges Only, Please)

These events require over 200 volunteer judges and dozens of court officers.

For more information or to register as a judge or court officer.

Howell “We The People” to Participate in District Hearing

November 10th, 2013 by MCCE Admin

Howell High School’s “We The People” class is back from their previous wins as a new group and is already looking for practice opportunities to prepare them for state competition.

The group will be taking part in a district hearing on Tuesday, November 12 in the administration section of the Freshman Campus. The class will be competing in six units, each with a different focus. Every unit will be given three questions and will have to answer each one in four minutes. The judges at the event are expected to be local lawyers, judges, and law enforcement officials who are familiar with the territory of the Constitution.

“I’ve learned so much,” says Kaitlynn Cortez, a senior who is part of the unit focused solely on the Bill of Rights. “It’s really interesting the things that you don’t learn…rights that you didn’t know you had.

” The “We The People” class, which is now run by a new teacher, Ms. Kristine Shantry, helps teach students more about the basics of the United States Constitution and focuses on many of the skills associated with becoming a lawyer or judge.

“It’s new for everyone this year,” Cortez adds. “We miss Mr. O, but Ms. Shantry has stepped up to the plate and it’s going great so far.”

Howell Main Four

By Social Media Editor: Cassie Bondie

Cortney Kosmala-Jackson, Cesar Chavez Academy High School, awarded 2013 Michigan Civic Education Teacher of the Year

October 19th, 2013 by MCCE Admin

Cortney Kosmala-Jackson, a master Civics teacher at César Chávez Academy High School in Detroit has been named the Michigan Civic Education Teacher of the Year. Ms. Kosmala-Jackson’s passion for her students and their development as responsible citizens is exemplary. She understands that in order to develop an engaged citizenry, it is vital to connect her students to community leaders and the world outside their classroom.

According to Brian Goodwin, César Chávez Academy Instructional Coach, “she stands head and shoulders above others in advancing our school toward the next level of achievement. Her efforts to improve her credentials are inspired by her fervent desire to present the best lessons for her students, as well as her desire to help each student to fulfill their own potential”

Ms. Kosmala-Jackson provides her students with many opportunities that connect them to community leaders and the world outside their classroom. Her students participate in the We the People program, a rigorous study of the Constitution and Bill of Rights which culminates with an event at the Michigan Capitol.

Recently, through Kosmala-Jackson’s efforts, César Chávez Academy High School became a member school in the Detroit Street Law Program, designed to encourage underprivileged students to consider a career in the law. According to Paul Zavala, an attorney at General Motors who participates in this program, there is one quality that places Ms. Kosmala-Jackson above other teachers. “Our experience has shown that Hispanic students are sometimes the most difficult students to engage in a high-level civics program. César Chávez High School’s student participation in our Program exceeds those of other member schools; a testament to her qualities as a teacher that she can motivate and relate to underprivileged Hispanic students”.

Ms, Kosmala-Jackson and her students also participate in the Youth Civil Rights Conference hosted by Wayne State Law School; visit the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan Courthouse in Detroit, and the Detroit Economic Club luncheons where they meet, ask question of and listen to speakers, usually elected officials.

Ms. Kosmala-Jackson understands the importance of being connected to other Civics educators. She has demonstrated this through his participation in and presentations at various professional conferences and in her role as a We the People 14th Congressional District Coordinator, as well as an AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam Reader (Scorer), and MEAP /MME item writer.

The award was presented by David Hales, Social Studies Consultant, Wayne RESA, and Board Member of the Michigan Center for Civic Education (MCCE) and Linda Start, Executive Director, MCCE at the Michigan Social Studies Conference co- sponsored by the Michigan Center for Civic Education. The Michigan Center for Civic Education is pleased to have honored one teacher as the Civic Education Teacher of the Year since 1984, said Start. “It’s not easy to teach the next generation of engaged responsible citizens with the ever narrowing curriculum and students who see daily examples of political polarization, incivility, and dysfunction.

The selection of teacher of the year is based on the following criteria:

Excellence in the instruction of civic/law-related education

Involvement of students in civic and law-related education programs which give studentsthe opportunity to practice the skills of citizenship

Leadership in the teaching profession by promoting civic education

Effective use of community resource persons in support of law-related/civic education.

Founded in 1982, the Michigan Center for Civic Education is Michigan’s premiere non-profit, non-partisan organization serving the mission of promoting the development of engaged, responsible citizens through civic and law-related education. Serving on the Center’s Advisory Board are Attorney General Bill Schuette, Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Flanagan, Michigan State Police Director Kriste Etue, and State Bar of Michigan Executive Director Janet K. Welch.

For more information contact Linda Start at 517-367-6422 or

Registration is now open for the 2014 Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament.

October 1st, 2013 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education announces that registration is now open for high schools to register in this year’s tournament.

The case is a criminal case surrounding the disappearance and alleged murder of a high-school student. Following Superior High School’s Senior Prom, “Sam” Seaside held a party while his/her parents were out of town. Among other things, when Sam’s parents returned, Mr. Seaside found that his gun was missing. The following weekend, Sam snuck out of the house to attend a pre-graduation party with some friends. Some of the other students who attended the party saw Sam arguing with his longtime friend “Nicki” Shore. Sometime later, Sam and Nicki left the party in Nicki’s car with “Jo” Turner, Nicki’s love interest. Nicki never returned home, but his/her car was found in the parking lot near the playground at a local park that Sunday. In the car, police found a bullet, and crime-lab analysis revealed that there were blood stains on the passenger-side interior. After interviewing the available witnesses and conducting extensive forensic analysis, police arrested and charged Sam Seaside for the murder of Nicki Shore. Nicki’s body was never found.

The MHSMTT has been organized and conducted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education since 1982. Teams of 6-10 students present arguments before panels of three judges per courtroom. One judge presides over the trial, while the others serve as the jury.

The MCCE is pleased to announce that this year’s competition will include a new regional tournament in Macomb County. We will also be returning for a second year to the Washtenaw County Courthouse.

Regional competitions will take place on the following dates:

March 1, 2014-Macomb County Regional
March 8, 2014–Ann Arbor Regional and Grand Rapids Regional
March 15, 2014- Pontiac Regional

The top 10 teams will compete in the State Finals on March 29, 2014, in Lansing.

The state champions will be eligible to compete in the National Mock Trial Championship in Madison, WI, May 8-10, 2014.

Interested schools can register for the Tournament here.

More information about the Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament is available here.

Register Now for the Michigan/Great Lakes Regional Social Studies Conference

September 18th, 2013 by MCCE Admin

The Michigan Center for Civic Education is pleased to be partnering once again with the Michigan Council for the Social Studies, Michigan Council on Economic Education, and the Michigan Geographic Alliance.

Join educators from around the Great Lakes region to network, deepen social studies content knowledge, explore teaching techniques, and integrate technology. The conference will also include sessions on the new C3 Framework, how to improve students’ content literacy skills, and reaching low level readers in the social studies classroom. For more information, click here.

Get Involved with Civic Education in Michigan!