- Sponsorship -

Kentwood, EGR Tops in Constitutional Competition

What’s it like to answer in-depth questions about the U.S. Constitution in front of a panel of lawyers, judges and professors?

“It’s good, because we know what we are talking about,” said East Kentwood High School junior Destiny Lewis, who demonstrated her government savvy recently with her teammates at a state competition in Lansing for We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution.

East Kentwood and East Grand Rapids high schools have quite a history of knowing what they are talking about when it comes to U.S. government.  They’ve been standout participants in We the People competitions which challenge students to give mock congressional testimony to exhibit their knowledge.

The 34-member East Grand Rapids High School placed first of 12 schools at the Lansing competition and is the only Michigan team advancing to national finals April 25-28 at George Mason Universityin Fairfax, Va., and in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The much smaller 13-member East Kentwood High School placed second. The Potter’s House Christian School in Wyoming, and Hudsonville High School also competed.

A Big RivalryThe East Grand Rapids High School team placed first at the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution state finals and will advance to the national competition

After devoting countless hours to studying, researching and working with coaches who include attorneys and judges, the teams annually place very well at the state competition. Both have made the top 10 at national finals in previous years.

East Grand Rapids has placed first in the state 10 of 14 years under the direction of government and economics teacher Janice Yates, who runs the program as an elective semester-long class.

East Kentwood has the longest running program in the state, at 27 years old, and has won the state competition 14 times. It is led by teacher Hillary Baker as part of her AP government class.

Almost always finishing “neck and neck,” the teams are big-time rivals, but students agree on a few things about taking part in the intense competition that could make even a seasoned lawyer sweat. 

It Changes How They Think

The Center for Civic Education program, which tests students’ knowledge on everything from foundations of the American political system to current challenges of democracy, has motivated them to become better informed citizens. It helped them develop skills that will have an influence on the rest of their lives.

“At the beginning of the year, the Constitution seemed far away,” said East Grand Rapids High School junior Ethan Poortenga. “This class really taught me how it affects our lives a lot, and how it’s always changing, every day, through court cases.”

“When I actually become of age where I’m able to vote and voice my opinion, that’s going to be something I do based on research,” said East Kentwood High School senior Lea Mavar.

Teacher Yates said the benefits of the program are huge. Students learn public speaking, writing, analytical and critical thinking skills, plus teamwork. “It just teaches them so many things outside of the knowledge. It brings everything together that they’ve studied their whole lives,” she said.

The East Grand Rapids team is focused now on raising $80,000 to attend the national finals.

CONNECT

Michigan Center for Civic Education

Common Core State Standards Initiative

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

LATEST ARTICLES

Learning from a place full of living things

Rebecca Perry and her class of eager kindergartners spent their morning exploring the newly redone Living Lab at Zinser Elementary...

Mapping the road to learning

Elementary teachers Billie Freeland and Nicole Andreas are at the forefront of using a curriculum designed to further educational goals, regardless of whether students are in person or online...

‘Even though it is extra work, I don’t mind the changes’

Teachers of specialty subjects — art, music and physical education — share their experiences after the pandemic prompts changes to class procedures...

Bus drivers work as daytime cleaners during pandemic

It’s also a plus to have familiar faces around school...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

From meeting room to classroom

The district’s Board of Education is on the move this year, now that its meeting room regularly draws a much younger audience...

Making the best of it

Students, parents, teachers and others share their feelings about the start of this unprecedented school year...

Here come the students; schools try to be ‘prepared for everything’

Area school districts have to be able to switch instruction plans if the pandemic fires up again, and be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in one of their schools...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS