Students participate in We the People competition

A team from Lincoln East High School has qualified for the national competition in We the People, a program that promotes civic responsibility and knowledge about the history and principles of U.S. constitutional democracy.

Roughly 100 LPS high school students participated in the state competition, held Tuesday via Zoom. In addition to East - which won for the 14th time in 16 years - students from Southeast, North Star and Southwest high schools also competed. Southeast finished second and may still earn a trip to nationals as a “wild card.”

As part of the state competition, organized by the Nebraska State Bar Foundation, teams of four students participated in a simulated congressional hearing in which they testified before a panel of judges acting as members of Congress. Judges typically include university professors, attorneys, and current and retired judges. Students demonstrated their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and had opportunities to evaluate, take and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.

Lincoln Public Schools K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Specialist Jaci Kellison served as one of the judges this year.

"I am impressed by the performance of LPS students every year, but especially this year, considering teams of students prepared for and competed in the competition virtually,” she said.  “The depth of knowledge students were able to share regarding the historical and contemporary implications of our Constitution is a testament to the dedication and commitment of both LPS students and teachers."

Students offered heavily researched answers to questions that included: What are the philosophical and historical foundations of the American political system? How has the Constitution been changed to further the ideals contained in the Declaration of Independence? What challenges might face American constitutional democracy in the 21st Century?

The national finals are in April and will also be held virtually.

Published: December 16, 2020, Updated: December 16, 2020