Incline High We the People class heading to national finals in D.C. | SierraSun.com

Incline High We the People class heading to national finals in D.C.

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

Incline High School's We the People class (pictured in center) beat 11 other teams from Nevada to win state.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The hours upon hours 11 Incline High School students spent preparing and practicing for questions pertaining to the U.S. Constitution have paid off.

On Saturday, Incline High's "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" class beat 11 other Nevada school teams to take first place in the state competition, allowing the Highlanders to advance to the national finals this spring.

"I am in awe of this group of students," said Milt Hyams, teacher of We the People/AP Government at Incline High, following the Saturday's competition in Las Vegas. "They knew they needed to have an incredible day and they did. The schools they were competing against were so good."

Incline led with score of 1980 points, edging Reno High (1,949) and Reed High in Sparks (1,925).

The 11-member IHS team — with each student assigned to at least one of six topic units, with many doing double duty — also won three unit awards and tied for a fourth with Reno and Reed.

"As the unit awards were announced, they realized that they were in the running," Hyams recalled. "When second place was announced, they knew they had done it, overcoming some significant obstacles."

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The class is already preparing for the national finals, he said, which takes place April 22-25 at the University of Maryland.

There, Incline will represent the state of Nevada and compete against more than 50 other teams representing states, territories and the District of Columbia.

"This class has shown a lot of character, and they have recently begun functioning as a team," Hyams said. "They are realizing how powerful they are if they support each other and work together. … If they remember the power of unity they felt at state and continue building on it, they will be competitive at the next level — even up against some very powerful We the People programs."

At finals, students will participate in simulated congressional hearings, where they will testify as constitutional experts before panels of judges acting as congressional committees.

Questions will center on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, with students drawing upon constitutional principles, historical facts and contemporary events to support their answers.

After two days of hearings, the top 10 scoring teams will continue the competition in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

This marks the ninth time that Incline's We the People class has qualified for nationals in the past 16 years.

It's estimated the class's trip to Maryland will cost $30,000, and fundraisers will be held over the next two months, Hyams said. Donations will be accepted; checks should be made out to "Incline High School We the People" and mailed to 499 Village Blvd., Incline Village, NV 89451.

Incline High School’s We the People 2015-16 team

Mitchell Cornell, Conor Devine, Julia Golombik, Ryan Eppolito, Brandon Fankhauser, Allison Tong, Bryan Banuelos, Sami Lampe, Anne Schrage, Hannah Laurie and Amanda Pretti.

More online: Visit civiced.org/programs/wtp to learn About We the People.