East Grand Rapids High School students finish 8th at the national 'We the People' competition

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The East Grand Rapids team along with advisors and coaches

After three rigorous days testifying in mock U.S. constitutional hearings on April 25-27, 2015, East Grand Rapids High School, representing the State of Michigan, finished 8th in the nation at the annual “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” National Finals in Washington DC. The team of 31 juniors and seniors spent the past year studying core democratic texts, theories and history in order to prepare for the national competition. The team was led by coach Janice Yates, assistant coach Alex Constantelos, and student coaches from the previous year’s team. During the three-day national competition, 56 high school teams from across the United States came together at George Mason University and were put to the test by panels of judges made up of constitutional scholars, state supreme court judges, lawyers, public officials and “We the People” alumni.

Judges probe students’ depth of knowledge, understanding and ability to apply constitutional principles and historical facts to contemporary situations.
East Grand Rapids students placed among the Top Ten teams in the nation giving them the opportunity to compete the final day on Capitol Hill.

“We the People” competition judge and alumna Mariam Memarsadeghi, co-founder of Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society, commented, “I am mesmerized by the argumentation skills of these exceptional students and profoundly moved by their honest passion for what makes for freedom.” The students she judges are some of America’s brightest, likely to become tomorrow’s policymakers, civic leaders, and change makers.

While in D.C., students also had an opportunity to visit the National Archives, The Holocaust Museum, The Supreme Court and many other landmarks in our nation’s capital. Coach Janice Yates said of the competition, “This is a life-changing experience. I was blown away by the poise and articulate responses given by our students. They represented the State of Michigan extraordinarily well!"