Incline students earn way into national ‘We the People’ competition
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Thirteen students will represent Incline High School at the national We the People competition in Washington, D.C.
The school won one of the wildcard spots during the Nevada State Competition on Feb. 1, and will be representing Nevada, along with Reno High School, at nationals.
The three-day competition will be held on April 24-27 and will host 1,200 high students and 56 teachers from all over the nation.
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution Program is a civics and constitutional program that allows students to compete in mock congressional hearings.
“It trains students the knowledge, skills and disposition they need to be a citizen in American society,” said Milton Hyams, Incline’s We the People advisor.
Students are split into groups of three and are given three questions for which they must prepare statements and rebuttals on the topics. During the competition, one of those questions are chosen, and the students won’t know which one it will be.
Hyams said the skills they learn in the program “transcend the curriculum,” including ability to work in a team, problem solve, be a critical reader, perform under pressure and work under time constraints.
“It teaches students to develop an interest in participating, desire to educate themselves in the issues and the ability to listen to and engage with someone who doesn’t agree with you,” Hyams said. He thinks the latter skill is something lacking in today’s society.
Hyams is incredibly proud of his students. “They have chosen to do something academically really rigorous,” Hyams said noting that most of the students in the program are also involved in other extracurriculars such as JOTC and athletics. He also notes that the senior class is very small and they are competing against much larger schools. Finally, he said, “They are politically, ethnically and interest diverse and they work really well together.” Hyams gives credit for a lot of the program’s success to his colleagues and the community.
“My colleagues are willing to help and willing to support these students in being successful,” Hyams said.
About 20 members from the community come in periodically to help coach the students.
They include ski patrols, retired judges, attorneys and people from a variety of careers. “We the People is part of the Incline culture,” Hyams said.
He also gives the Nevada Center for Civic Engagement, a new non-profit that supports We the People programs across the state, a lot of credit. They helped fund the Incline students’ trip and stay in Las Vegas for the state competition.
Hyams and the students are now fundraising to go to nationals. Hyams estimates with flights and hotels, it will cost about $45,000.
Donations are being accepted. For more information, call Incline High School at 775-832-4260.