Pat, Personally

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Our civic future

On Feb. 3, at the University of Nevada, Reno, I had the privilege of judging the Nevada state competition of “We the People.” During this competition, teams of seniors prepare for simulated congressional hearing on questions related to the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and all Amendments to the Constitution. The overall purpose is to engage students in both the history of our country as well as its future.

Teams from Canyon Springs High School, Clark High School, West Career and Technical Academy, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, and College of Southern Nevada – East competed against Reno High School, Incline Village High School and Bishop Manogue High School from Northern Nevada. Reno High School won the state competition and will advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C. The Canyon Springs High school team, under the coaching of Dr. Lou Grillo, came in third place.

Each year, almost 100 judges, lawyers, legislators and community individuals volunteer to judge on a Saturday in December for the district level competition, and again in February for the state level competition. While the competition is tough and students are focused on winning, the biggest winner is our state. Each year, this program reaches hundreds of students from Nevada who not only study the Constitution and Amendments, but also thousands of court cases and rulings. These students learn, firsthand, the ideals our country was founded on and how our democratic system works and thrives.

I have watched students take a six-month journey through our country’s history and be able to not only formulate a convincing argument, but also defend their viewpoints during a rigorous cross examination period. I have seen students apply court rulings and interpretations of ideals based on the We the People program. I have seen students who have changed career paths based on participation. I have seen students bring alive documents that contain the foundation and basis of our entire way of life, and that most adults have never read or choose to ignore. I have seen students grow from a state of apathy to a state of activism. I have seen students become actively engaged adults through this program.

While politics in the state of Nevada and our country may seem in turmoil at times, I can assure you that I have seen the future. The future of our democratic system is in good hands if we trust our We the People students to be the next leaders!