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Students Will Demonstrate Constitutional Knowledge at State Showcase

COLUMBUS (May 11, 2016) - As the end of the school year approaches, most students are thinking about their summer plans.  But approximately 150 students from the following schools, Dominion Middle School (Franklin County), Harvest Preparatory School (Franklin County) and Sycamore Junior High School (Hamilton County) remain focused on academics, having spent the last few months studying and preparing for the Ohio Middle School We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution State Showcase, which will take place May 13 on the campus of Columbus State Community College.

Students from Ravenna High School (Portage County) will also participate.  Ravenna teacher, Matthew Wunderle, is a part of the 2015-16 James Madison Legacy Project, a federally-funded grant program which trains teachers in the content and implementation of the We the People curriculum.

Among the questions students will tackle: In what ways might social media and the World Wide Web expand the possibilities for participatory citizenship? Why have First Amendment rights been viewed as essential to the functioning of a free society?

“These students really become young constitutional scholars.  They gain an in-depth understanding of the history and application of the U.S Constitution.  It’s remarkable to listen to them engage in discussions and debate the Constitution at such a high level,” said program coordinator, Tim Kalgreen.

Phil Hammer, who has taught We the People at Sycamore Jr. High in Cincinnati for more than 10 years, says “We the People is one of the greatest programs to open up students' eyes and be eternally vigilant about the principles and ideals that founded this country.  The Constitution is our Freedom's guidebook. The passion that surrounded its drafting, the blood that was spilled leading up to its ratification, the impact [it] has on our daily life cannot be viewed as theoretical...or worse, passive.”

We the People, a program of the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education, gives students a unique opportunity to participate in simulated congressional hearings.  Students showcase their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles by evaluating, presenting and defending positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.  After providing a prepared answer to the competition questions, students answer follow-up questions from judges including college professors, judges, attorneys, and other community leaders.

We the People is administered in Ohio by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) and nationally by the Center for Civic Education.  OCLRE is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose goal is to improve society by developing citizens empowered with an understanding of our democratic system. OCLRE is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ohio State Bar Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation.  In Ohio, We the People is funded in part by a grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.  For more information on OCLRE, please visit www.oclre.org.

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