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Students Learn U.S. Constitution Through Mock Congressional Hearings

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Students from St. John's College High School in D.C. participate in We The People competition, which simulates congressional hearings.
Kavitha Cardoza
Students from St. John's College High School in D.C. participate in We The People competition, which simulates congressional hearings.

By Kavitha Cardoza

As adults are focusing on the Congressional health care and financial reform debates, students in D.C. schools are holding their own hearings to learn more about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

In the "We the People" competition, topics range from presidential powers to the challenges facing democracy. Joy Dingle, a teacher from Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, says her students find it difficult to relate to the Constitution.

"They see a lot of it as theories, or a framework that was written by 55 men over 200 years ago," she says.

But Dingle says once they apply their knowledge to current events, something changes.

"Then it does become more concrete with them and they say 'oh that's what the Bill of Rights is all about," she says.

Logan Bush from St. John's College High School says he's learning something profoundly simple.

"Just how to be a good American, like what it means to be an American citizen," says Bush.

Students say they're more confident about exercising their rights now. And there is one other all important use, says Sam Lapore.

"I was watching the Colbert Report, they were making fun of a Supreme Court decision on unlimited spending, which wouldn't have meant anything to me before and I actually understood what they were talking about," says Lapore.

This year's winning team will represent D.C. at the national finals in April.


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