Forty-Seven Schools Compete Online in 2021 We the People National Finals

More than 1,000 students from 47 high schools competed in the 2021 We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals, held April 24-26. Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies from Richmond, Virginia, led by teacher Samuel Ulmschneider, placed first in the competition, during which students testified before a panel of judges on the principles of the U.S. Constitution. Grant High School from Portland, Oregon, led by teacher Angela DiPasquale, placed second, and Reno High School from Nevada, led by teacher Richard Clark, finished third. The We the People National Finals were generously sponsored by a grant from T-Mobile.It was inspiring to witness these committed students eloquently explain their informed viewpoints on our nation's constitutional principles, said Christopher R. Riano, president of the Center for Civic Education. “I am confident that, armed with this knowledge, they will enter adult life as informed citizens who will help build a better future for our nation. All of us at the Center deeply appreciate the dedication of the students, teachers, parents, and volunteers who made this event possible.”

Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies

“In an extremely tough year, We the People has been a class that remained a joy for me to teach, even on Zoom,” said Maggie L. Walker teacher Samuel Ulmschneider. “For the students, a course so focused on individual growth and research as well as the opportunity to work organically in a small group also provided a welcome change of pace in a difficult year. As a former We the People student myself who credits that experience with subtly shaping many of my long-term choices, I am confident that this experience has cultivated a strong sense of civic engagement among the class and a commitment to the American project that will find expression in whatever field they pursue.”

Awards were presented to the top-12 finishers, as well as to the highest-scoring schools in four geographical divisions, and the top performers in each of the six units of the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution textbook. Schools were not eligible to receive more than one award. You can find the complete list of award winners on the competition’s website. For the second year, the National Finals were held online using Zoom. This was the 34th year of the National Finals. The first competition was held in April 1988 as part of the celebration of the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

Students from Ulmschneider’s national-championship-winning class shared their perspectives on what the competition meant to them:

"We the People gave me the opportunity to scrutinize and understand political and philosophical issues that I’d normally brush over," said Varun Mandgi, part of the Unit 1 team. "Its open-ended nature and high ceiling of achievement motivated me to learn more than I could have ever hoped to without the program."

Elizabeth Celentano, who participated as part of Unit 3, said, "We the People was the highlight of my high school experience. I wasn’t even sure I would try out for the class because I knew how much time it required and I didn’t know if the class would be worth it. I am so grateful that my teacher and friends pushed me to actually try out. It ended up being even more time consuming than I could’ve imagined, but in the best possible way."

"The We the People program has not only invigorated my interest in government and law, it has made me more aware of the most pressing issues facing society," said Tejas Muthusamy, who competed as part of the Unit 4 team. "From climate change to civil rights, I am confident that I can use the skills I’ve learned through We the People to solve these issues!"

Grace Bouton, part of the Unit 4 team, said, "We the People has been the most rewarding and useful class I’ve ever taken, it’s really helped me decide what I want to pursue as a career."

John Staley, who competed with his Unit 2 teammates, said, "Whether it be exploring complex historical issues, talking in depth about political and constitutional controversies, or learning and interacting with some of the finest scholars, historians, professors, and lawyers, I had a blast at the We the People national competition. Thank you Center for Civic Education!"


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