By John Anderson

On January 25th, students from Auburn High School traveled to Harvard University in Cambridge to participate in the “We the people: the Citizen and the Constitution” State Finals. The Auburn students won first place in the competition and will compete nationally in Washington D.C. on April 25th through 28th. Social Studies teachers Vincent Benacchio and Spencer Kennard are the club advisers.

According to Mr. Benacchio, “The participating students represent an excellent cross section of the Auburn community.  The majority of them are planning on attending four-year colleges while others have applied to military academies.  These students are currently enrolled in Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics.  It is in this course that students learn how to properly participate in a democracy.  They learn about the rights and responsibilities of being an American citizen. They become experts in constitutional law and jurisprudence.”

The photograph below shows the 35 students at Harvard along with Mr. Kennard and Mr. Benacchio.

WeThePeople.Auburn

Photo by Armand White Photography

Benacchio added, “The competition is held annually at Harvard University, specifically the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.  We had been preparing for this event since September.  The students were tasked with creating a timed opening statement to be given to a panel of judges and then undergo a 6-minute interrogation by the panel on their statement and their knowledge of the topic.  Any opinion that the student may provide should typically be connected to the Constitution or be validated by a decision of the Supreme Court.”

According to the program for the event, “The program is designed to commemorate the framing and adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and to revitalize educational programs on the Constitution and civic education in our nation’s schools.” In explaining the contest, “During the simulated congressional hearing, students are judged on the following criteria: understanding, constitutional application, reasoning, supporting evidence, responsiveness, and participation.”

This is a true honor for the participating students and their faculty advisors. It also reflects positively on the Auburn District’s emphasis on a higher level of education. Advanced placement courses are a big part of this. Auburn Mass Daily will be providing additional coverage of this event and the path to the national competition.