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Boonsboro High School students advance in U.S. Constitution competition

December 21, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • From left, judges Sen. Christopher Shank, Ida DeGraw and Frank Carden pose followup questions to Boonsboro High School's Unit 1 team, from right, Justin Doak, Julia Previti, Elie Nogle and Tyler Politte during the 6th Congressional District's We The People: The Citizen and The Constitution held Wednesday at Hagerstown Community College.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

A group of students from Boonsboro High School will travel to Annapolis in February to fight for the state title in a competition that tests students on their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

On Wednesday, Boonsboro topped three other student teams from the 6th Congressional District during a competition at Hagerstown Community College called We The People: The Citizen and The Constitution.

In addition to Boonsboro, teams were fielded by South Hagerstown and St. Maria Goretti high schools, and Gerstell Academy in Carroll County.

Gene Ebersole, district coordinator for We the People, said the students started studying for the event at the beginning of the school year.

"The basic purpose is to get our students to understand and respect the principles of the Constitution," Ebersole said.

He said the students answered six questions that were asked by a panel of judges about the Constitution. The judges then scored the students based on their answers.

Luke Giancola, a sophomore at South Hagerstown High, said after the competition that he was asked by the judges to give an example of how people distrust the federal government, which was a concern among early Americans as it is today.

He said he used President Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign to mold his answer.

Obama "promised hope and change and never fulfilled it," Giancola said. "That's why no one trusts him."

Boonsboro High School seniors Zora Chalkley and Shannon McClellan said the experience opened their eyes to the voting process. The two will vote for the first time next year during the presidential primary and general elections, they said.

Chalkley said the class taught her to absorb information about the candidates from a wide variety of media sources so she can make a well-informed decision.

 "I understand now how you go about deciding how you should vote for something, and all the intricacies and things we don't know about as average citizens," Chalkley said.

McClellan said she learned from the program that every American has a civic responsibility to learn as much as possible about the candidates before casting a vote.

"It is the citizens' duty to be involved in their government," she said. "I think a lot of citizens are voting on name recognition .... It's really important to be knowledgeable and to really care about what's going on in our lives."

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