“We The People” mock Congressional hearing held Tuesday at RHS

Students in Unit Three discussed the concept of judicial review, how Southern states justified their decision to secede prior to the Civil War and elements of the Equal Protection clause. From Right to Left: Vanessa Nells, Tahia Hancock, Wyatt Meyer, Joey Roseno, Sean Thornton, Meagan Hough, and instructors Jeremy Hill and Aaron Taylor. RHS Principal Joanne Flanagan looked on. (Ernie Over photo)

By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com

(Riverton, Wyo.) – With a dozen judges from the community and Fremont County School District #25 assembled Tuesday afternoon, Riverton High School’s “We The People” American Government class participated in a mock Congressional hearing. The hearing was a practice session leading up to a competition in Casper this coming Monday on the student’s knowledge of the history and principles of the United States Constitution.

The 31 students in Kristy Richmond’s class have been studying the “We The People” curriculum from the Center for Civic Education, for which they will receive both high school and college credit for successful completion of the course. A rostered class required for high school graduation, the class also provides a Political Science 1000 undergraduate credit.

“The students really respond well to the judges and realize how much they’ve grown with the subject,” Richmond said. “Each student must produce three essays each semester, and then they are placed on units of from four to six students to begin practicing for the state competition.”

Richmond said students prepare a four minute oral statement in response to questions written by the Center for Civic Education. Each of the students in a unit was responsible for a portion of the statement, which was presented to the judges who then questioned the students in a style reminiscent of a Congressional hearing. The judges then gave feedback to the students which they can use prior to the state competition.

The six units from the class prepared their oral presentation, each taking one of the following six questions:

• What are the philosophical and historical foundation of the American political system?

• How did the Framers create the Constitution?

• How has the Constitution been changed to further the ideals contained in the Declaration of Independence?

• How have the values and principles embodied in the Constitution shaped American institutions and practices?

• What rights does the Bill of Rights protect?

• What challenges might face American Constitutional Democracy in the 21st Century?

The top six schools from Monday’s competition will move on to the Wyoming Finals in Cheyenne.