The issues were real, and so were the nerves some students felt as they “testified” before a panel of “judges” during mock congressional hearings held May 20 at West Middle School.
The program, called “We the People, The Mock Congressional Hearing,” is a national non-competitive program that allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of the history and contents of the United States Constitution.
“I was really nervous beforehand,” said eighth-grader Julia Stanisz, about her group’s presentation on constitutional government, including its purpose and protections.
“The hardest part was the follow-up questions,” said student Winston Howard.
“We had to apply things from the outside world,” added Preston Windfeldt.
But afterward, the group was satisfied with its performance. “It was easier than I thought it would be,” said Demetria Armatas. “We knew the material.”
Their judges agreed. “I thought the students were really prepared and confident,” said parent volunteer Jerry LaBonde.
“Their presentation showed a lot of in-depth research and a thorough understanding of the issues,” said fellow judge Eileen Marsh, also a parent volunteer.
LaBonde and Marsh were two of the 65 community volunteers who spent a full morning evaluating student presentations.
“I’m so pleased kids are actively engaged in learning about our founding documents,” said State Senator Nancy Spence, one of several elected officials who volunteered their time and expertise.
Also participating were State Representative Daniel Kagan, Bennie Miller from U.S. Senator Michael Bennet’s office, and Jennifer Creager from U.S. Representative Michael Coffman’s office.
The mock congressional hearings are a 15-year tradition at West. They are part of the eighth grade social studies curriculum and help students improve their research, critical thinking and teamwork skills and deepen their knowledge of civics and government.