MSHS students head to DC for national competition

Members of Marquette Senior High School’s “We the People” team departed Marquette Thursday for Washington, D.C., to participate in the national competition that tests students’ knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. In January, the 23 MSHS students traveled to Lansing, shown above, and captured second place at the state level of the competition. (Photo courtesy of Fred Cole)

MARQUETTE — Twenty-three Marquette Senior High School students on Thursday left the area for Washington D.C. to compete in the 30th annual “We the People” national finals.

During the competition, students will participate in simulated congressional hearings and testify as constitutional experts before panels of judges acting as congressional committees who will score students’ performances. Each class is divided into six groups based on the six units of the “We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution” high school textbook.

Fred Cole, MSHS social studies teacher and coach for the competition, said in a press release that Michigan is usually a top 10 team at the national competition.

“We are very excited to represent Michigan and the U.P.,” Cole said. “The students have a huge challenge in front of them, but they are excited to take it on, and we really appreciate all the support we have received from the Marquette community.”

During the mock hearings, students will deliver an opening statement, followed by a question-and-answer period in which judges will probe students’ depth of knowledge, understanding and their abilities to apply constitutional principles to current and historic examples.

In January the MSHS team finished second in the state competition, held in Lansing, and eventually received a wildcard spot for the national tournament.

MSHS teams have finished top three in five of the last six years of competition at the state level, with this year being the school’s first trip to the national finals, according to the release.

While in Washington D.C., students will have the chance to tour the U.S. Capitol building, the Supreme Court building, the National Mall, the National Archives, the Holocaust Museum, the Smithsonian complex and Mount Vernon.

Financing for the trip was raised in eight weeks by the students, families and members of the community, according to the press release.

“We are very grateful for the support we received from individual donors, businesses, service clubs and local foundations,” Cole said. “We would not be able to go to this competition without the wonderful support from the community.”

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is