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Event tests students' Constitution

December 17, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Still only a high school senior, Dominic Baxley says he already knows what he wants to do.

After graduating, he'll enroll in college and major in political science, then after completing law school, the South Hagerstown High School student will work as a lawyer.

"That's my dream," Dominic said.

Dominic was one of about 90 students from three Washington County schools who competed in Wednesday's "We the People" contest at Hagerstown Community College won by St. Maria Goretti High School. The competition tested their knowledge, understanding and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

South High, Clear Spring High and St. Maria Goretti High competed.

Last year's winner, Boonsboro High School, did not participate due to a limited number of interested students, said Gene Ebersole, social studies curriculum and instruction specialist for Washington County Public Schools. The school's AP Government course was removed, but Ebersole said he expected it to return next school year.

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He said the "We the People" program began in 1987 and Washington County has been participating for most of that time. The competition is open to students in public and private schools - most who are enrolled in government courses at the time.

Kristen DiMercurio, a junior at Goretti, said students were given a question ahead of time, and then asked to present a position backed up by facts. Follow-up questions were asked by a judge and students were scored on their responses.

"They can get pretty intense," Goretti junior Tanner Beal said of the questions.

Kristen said her question centered around immigration and the 14th amendment.

Clear Spring High School students Kyle Jacobs, Tyler Brown and Mollie Kemp - all sophomores - said they spent months in and out of class preparing for Wednesday's competition. They said it was a good experience and that they relied a lot on teamwork during the competition.

South Hagerstown High senior Margot Rittenhouse said she learned a lot from preparing for Wednesday's event. She said she wants to pursue an education in constitutional law after high school.

"I did gain a lot ... that I'll use for the rest of my life," Long Luu, a South High senior, said of what he learned Wednesday and in his government course taught by Adam Parry.

Members of the St. Maria Goretti High School team that won the 'We the People' contest Wednesday:Students - Alexandra Bartha, Tanner Beal, Zoe D'heedere, Kristen DiMercurio, John Donoghue, Margaret Garvey, Patrick Heizer, Jacob Horejs, Mary McGinley, Nicholas Munson, Daniel Rost, Cassandra Rzomp, Emily Steiner, Eliza Wallace, Aaron Wilkinson and Justin Winslow. Teacher - Kristin Bachtell.

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