Howell students take first-place state Constitutional honorswphungerford
By Wayne Peal
LIVINGSTON DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
Anyone looking for an interpretation of U.S. Constitution would do to call Howell High School.
The school’s We the People team –– 29 students well-versed in Constitutional law –– just earned first place honors in this year’s state finals, held Friday in Lansing.
“This was the fist time we’ve won,” said teacher Mark Oglesby who has coached the school’s student competitors for 11 years.
Team members are now eligible to compete in the national We the People finals, to be held April 26-29 on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. as well as in select Captiol Hill meeting rooms.Competitions are formatted like Congressional hearings.
During Friday’s state finals, students had to make oral presentations in six different units on six distinct areas of the Constitution and were scored on how well they expressed themselves.
“We were definitely nervous, but we had worked hard to get ready,” said team member Megan Isom, a senior who took part in a discussion of equal protection under the law.
“It covered civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and all kinds of other topics,” Oglesby said. “Everyone on every unit had to contribute.”
Each unit received its own score, which was compiled into the team score. The overall margin was narrow, just 1,004-1,002 over the team from East Grand Rapids.
The win, Oglesby said, came after a recent series of second place finishes, including one by a mere four points in 2010.
“It was nerve wracking, but when it was over it was just amazing,” said senior Ben Schultz. “We had really good team chemistry and that helped.”
Event judges included state Rep. Cindy Denby, R-Handy Township and former Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse.
Morse said he was particular impressed with the Howell team’s presentation on compromise under the Constitution, a much discussed topic these days. “I’ve been a judge for five years, and I can tell you theirs was the best presentation I’d ever seen,” Morse said.
In addition to capturing overall first place honors, the Howell team also captured the units equal protection and governmental compromise.
“By this year’s draw, Unit 3 (the equal protection unit) went first and they really rocked it,” Oglesby said. “They got us off to a great start.”
We the People competitions are conducted in 45 states, as well as the District of Columbia.
The We The People program is sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established through the State Bar of California to promote democratic ideals in the U.S. and abroad.]]>