When it comes to U.S. government knowledge, Washington County middle schoolers might know more than you.
Hagerstown Community College hosted the Washington County Public Schools academic championships Wednesday morning. The state middle school program called “We the People: The Citizen and Constitution” challenges students to not only learn about our United States government but also inspires them to make a difference in their generation.
“When you look at our general population, a lot of people don’t understand the purpose of government or what we as citizens can do to impact that,” said WCPS Middle School Social Study Content Specialist Kate Long. “By starting our students early and empowering our students with that information, they become more capable of impacting their community or the government at large. I believe that’s a great benefit.”
And, the results are clear.
“Usually Hannah just likes to duck her head down and keep doing her work so this is delightful that she’s willing to speak in front of other people and be seen and heard,” said Supportive Grandmother Margie Moats. “She’s a really bright girl and it’s just really fun to see her becoming a woman instead of just a kid.”
Boonsboro, E. Russell Hicks, Northern, Springfield and Western Heights Middle Schools competed in six different units, or different areas of government knowledge.
“It’s important to increase the civic participation in our society because I feel like it’s very low,” said Boonsboro Middle School Student Yifan Zhang. “I feel like by doing this, we can kind of spread the awareness and try to get more people involved in our government.”
The competition took just about three hours to complete, but students said it was totally worth it.
“I think it’s really good that we get the experience and that we get to research the government,” said Boonsboro Middle School Student Summer Righter. “We have knowledge about it so when we finally are at the age to vote and have a stronger impact on government.”
“I really wanted to get into ‘We the People’ because I think it’s really important to understand the foundations of the government so it will help future citizens vote,” said Western Heights Middle School Student Isabel Su. “They will know what’s going on in government, they will know the history behind America’s government and how it came to be.”
Two-year competition judge Betsy Crookes has seen some of the kids improve their knowledge, confidence and skills, even over a short time span.
“This is an amazing experience,” said Crookes. “It gives them confidence, gives them civic education which we know kids are lacking and it gives them a chance to work and collaborate as a team and to be successful.”
The overall winner of the championship was Boonsboro Middle School by 4 points over E. Russell Hicks. Tailing after, Springfield finished third, North came in fourth and Western Heights closed the competition in fifth place.