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Washington Co. students compete in 'We the People' contest

December 19, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Fifty-four students from three Washington County high schools competed Tuesday, testing their knowledge, understanding and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

The students answered questions on everything from habeas corpus to judiciary power.

"Basically, if it's part of the government, we have to know it," Boonsboro senior Brennen Baylor said.

Boonsboro's team won the competition at Hagerstown Community College. Students from the school's advanced placement government course also took first place in the state "We the People" competition last year and went on to compete nationally.

Clear Spring High School, which came in third, and Saint Maria Goretti High School, which placed second, also competed Tuesday.

Gene Ebersole, social studies curriculum and instruction specialist for Washington County Public Schools and district coordinator for "We the People," said that he expects five schools to participate next year.

Boonsboro High junior Brianna Miller says her team spent months preparing for the contest. Students are asked to read a four-minute prepared answer to a question, but then must be ready to answer follow-up questions from a panel of judges.

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"We're prepared to answer most questions," said Chelsea Smith, a sophomore at Clear Spring High.

Chelsea says she was hoping to not to be asked questions about Guantanimo Bay. She says other members of her team were strong in that subject, though.

"It's a chance for them to supply some of the knowledge they learned in government courses," Ebersole said.

He said students, who are interested in their government courses, often become active in government later in life.

Catherine Barton, a junior at Saint Maria Goretti, says her interest in the law and politics might have something to do with her father, who is a lawyer.

"I like the interaction," she said. "I'm a big debate person."

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