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These people really know the Constitution

April 24, 2007|by JANET HEIM

BOONSBORO - It might be the first year that Boonsboro High School has competed in the "We the People" competition, but it wasn't beginner's luck that earned the 11 students the spot as Maryland's top team and a right to compete in the national competition.

"They worked very hard," said team adviser Karri Ernst, an AP Government and Honors Government teacher at Boonsboro High.

Students answer questions on different aspects of the Constitution, such as political philosophy or amendments.

Ernst served as a judge for the district competition for two years and said she was always amazed watching the St. Maria Goretti High team, which she described as "fabulous."

As Ernst prepared to add a yearlong Advanced Placement (AP) Government class to Boonsboro's curriculum last fall, the expectation was that those students would be part of a "We the People" team at the high school.

Students from last year's and this year's semester-long AP Government class formed the team. Team members include Amanda Bundick, Jake Demers, Katie Farr, Turner Hirsch, April Hoffman, Maura James, Kyle Kane, Courtney Monninger, Ira Redman, Adam Stephens and Jon Wood.

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All but one of the students are seniors.

The district competition was Dec. 18. Eleven teams competed, with teams from Boonsboro High, Clear Spring High, North Hagerstown High and St. Maria Goretti representing Washington County.

Boonsboro's team received the highest total points, followed by Goretti.

The state competition was Feb. 12 in Annapolis and again Boonsboro's team earned the highest total points. Now, the members' goal is to finish in the top 10 at the national competition.

Ernst has also arranged for other county social studies and government teachers to come in and work with the students, preparing them for even the most obscure questions. Not only have the students learned a lot about U.S. history and the Constitution, they have also grown in their research, writing and public speaking skills.

The national competition is in Washington, D.C., from April 27 to May 1. There will be one team from each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam participating, Ernst said. Many of them will be from private schools, charter public schools and government advocacy schools, she said.

The top 10 teams will compete on Capitol Hill, possibly in front of members of Congress, Ernst said.

Ernst shares her students' pride and anticipation of the national competition, but she worries about how the group will pay for its trip to Washington. She said the trip will cost about $10,000.

Ernst said donations may be sent to Boonsboro High School, 10 Campus Ave., Boonsboro, MD 21713, with a notation for the "We the People" competition.

For more information, call Ernst at the school at 301-766-8022.

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